Women need no success mantra: Smriti Irani
Kolkata lit up just a little brighter as the 17th edition of the Devi Awards was held in the City of Joy on the night of August 31. The awards recognise and honour the accomplishments of women who have, against the odds, made a distinct mark in their respective fields and contributed to the vision of a thriving and globally competent nation.
Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister of Textiles and Women & Child Development, who was the chief guest at the event, not only handed the recipients their awards, but also spoke about how we can make way for more women leaders in the country. In an interaction with the audience, the minister said, "Women need no success mantra. Don't ever doubt yourself, women know how to succeed ." Fielding other questions with panache Smriti she called for doing away with gender stereotypes across the board.
This year’s recipients were acclaimed exponent of Indian classical dance Alokananda Roy, social entrepreneur and environmentalist Ekta Jaju, filmmaker Pritha Chakraborty, sustainable fashion influencer Sujata Chatterjee, designer trio Laldinsangi, Lalsangzeli and Lalrinpuii, entrepreneur and fashion visionary Madhu Neotia, environmental activist Temsutula Imsong, educator and social entrepreneur Parmita Sarma, and lifestyle entrepreneur Ritu Agarwal.
The evening started with a panel discussion, which included names like Kaveree Bamzai of The New Indian Express group, Malavika Banerjee, who’s a handloom revivalist and the mind behind Kolkata-based label Byloom, and the awardee Ekta Jaju, to name a few. One of the most noteworthy comments came from Jaju, who revealed that it is a great time for women to pursue entrepreneurship. “If there was ever a time for female entrepreneurs to thrive, it’s now!” she said.
Interestingly, the discussion did not just talk about the issues of women, but featured a healthy debate about men too. “I think we’re raising well-behaved young boys, and it is time to change the narratives of women for the better,” Ms Bamzai remarked, as the panel agreed. Needless to say, the award ceremony was a smorgasbord of powerhouse talents; Kolkata, at least hasn’t seen so many accomplished women unite under one roof in a while, that too on a platform celebrating them. As the recipients received their awards from the honourable minister, they opened up about their success stories. While Parmita Sarma talked about her green school initiative which caused global waves, Alokananda Roy talked about her experience with the inmates whom she reformed through dance. But the night didn’t end before Mrs Irani was persuaded to say something in Bengali for her fans in Kolkata. “Abar dekha hobe, Dugga Dugga,” the honourable minister said in flawless Bengali.
Earlier, introducing the Chief Guest Smriti Irani to the audience, Editorial Director of The New Indian Express group, Mr Prabhu Chawla, told the audience, “I’ve seen her in various roles, but I’ve never known in which role to define her, and catch her; she’s been a saas, a bahu, and a politician. She’s a multi-faceted persona, multi-tasking constantly. She knows so many languages, Punjabi, Hindi, English, Bangla, Marathi and also Gujarati! She was the youngest cabinet minister in Narendra Modi's government, and she also held the most important portfolio. In fact, whichever portfolio was given to her, she delivered.
"I went to Amethi where she won, and I thought they would know her from her show ' Kyunki Saas Bi Kabhi Bahu Thi'. I asked them why they voted for her, and the people came up with a banner which read Smriti Irani, Jhaansi Ki Raani. Because what she'd done for the town is absolutely exemplary," added Mr Chawla.
Some of the noteworthy attendees at Devi Awards were Sanjiv Goenka, Harshvardhan Neotia, JIS group head Taranjit Singh, Namit Bajoria, Joyika Sen, wife of Senco Gold and Diamonds director Suvankar Sen.
This is the first time that the Devi Awards are being held on Kolkata, and under the umbrella of Indulge - The Morning Standard.
The presenting partner for the Devi Awards was Assocham India, platinum partner for the awards was RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, associate partners were Kutchina and Senco Gold and Diamonds, airline partner was Air India, celebration partner was Diageo, trophy partner was Le Trove, and writing partner was Linc Pentonic.