From Sudha, then not Murthy,shooting off an acidic missive to JRD Tata, telling him to desist from advertising jobs with 'not for ladies' tag, to Priyanka Chopra saving '45 minutes' of her day for family, a book chronicles myriad aspects of India's women achievers.
Author Gunjan Jain, in her book 'She walks, She Leads', celebrates the lives of some of India's most inspirational women be it in sports, art, fashion, media, entertainment, corporate, banking or law.
The women, in the book, have fought hard against prejudices, pre-conceived notions and subtle discrimination in a society where patriarchy is just as explicit as it is deeply entrenched.
"I did not write the book because I wanted to be an author. I became an author because I was compelled to write this book," Jain, a trained investment banker, said.
Whittling down from an initial selection of 200 names, Jain finally zeroed on to 24 women, but it is an eclectic mix. Narrating the enduring tales of Olympic medalist Mary Kom, Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan, MD Biocon Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Media Baron Shobana Bhartia and others, the book invites the reader to become a part of the ongoing conversation about women in India.
'She Walks, She Leads' is liberally peppered with interesting anecdotes about people who played small and big roles in the lives of these iconic women. Though talking about "women inhabiting a largely patriarchal workplace" and prevailing "gender discrimination" in the very introduction of the book, the author makes it clear that not once in her book does she compare men and women, or tries to establish who plays a significant role.
"I think what my book proves through the lives of these women is: the point of co-existence and interdependence. The lives of the women featured in the book prove that it is okay to ask for help and depend on the people around you, men and/or women.
"And, that their near and dear ones have played a significant role in their success," said Jain. Jain said she was careful about not crossing the thin line between telling the story to preaching the reader.
"This is no self-help book because it is not advising or seeking to teach. The book relates the experiences of these women and how they dealt with various struggles they came by. But, yes I do believe that there are lessons in there to be unearthed," said the author.
The author points it out in her book that it is a world that never expects man to prove his allegiance to his family in pursuit of his career but a woman has to demonstrate, at every step.
"They have organised their lives and routines in a manner that allows them to pursue their goals and yet manage to strike the necessary work-life balance. They do not indulge in self-pity and instead think positive and look for solutions," said Jain.
When queried why the book - that includes profile of women like Nita Ambani, Parmeshwar Godrej, Ritu Kumar- does not have the conventional rags to riches story, Jain said, "I don't think any one struggle is more arduous than the other; it is about how one faces up to them that is more relevant."
The piece de resistance in the book is a description of Shabana Azmi of her poet husband Javed Akhtar as someone "who doesn't have a single romantic bone his body" -- this after he has penned reams of poetry on romance.
Jain said through this book's journey she has picked up valuable life lessons which she plan to carry with her in life ahead.
When asked about her expectation from the book, the author said, "My biggest hope for this book is that every reader is compelled to buy three books - one for their bedside table, one for their work desk and one to give away."