The Alfa Woman: Her Idea of India

What started as an experiment five years ago soon became a keenly-awaited event. Yes, we are talking about the Chitralekha Gujarati Annual special the first issue of which was published on completion of six decades of the publication that was founded by Vajubhai and Madhubahen Kotak after years of struggle and hardships. While the first Annual was published to commemorate the sixty years of their labour of love, the subsequent Annuals were brought out because of readers’ warm response.

Today, as Chitralekha enters its 64th year, the publication has come out with yet another Annual, retaining all its magnificence, splendor and quality editorial fare, not to mention its stunning visual impact. In fact, this year, it is a 3-in-1 issue, with a Power list of 64 well-known Gujarati achievers whose contributions to society have made us all proud. And of course, a delicious, tastefully prepared Recipe book of yummy cuisines that accompanies the set has all the necessary ingredients to be a Collector’s item.

First thing first. Though divided in three sections, the chief subject of the first section of Annual-64 is the Alfa Woman-a contemporary, compassionate yet confident woman who has broken free from the shackles of the strangulating four walls of kitchen, and hit the glass ceilings. In other words, the Annual celebrates woman empowerment that has enabled today’s woman to take the least traveled path, be it in matters of their marriage or career.

Not only these Alfa women have made to the top in whichever field they forayed, they also have the ability and articulation to piece together their views and thoughts for our Annual. Isn’t it great? Working yourself up the ladders of success is one thing, writing about her idea of India is quite another.

This power packed list of accomplished women is topped by who else, but Anandibahen Patel, the first woman chief minister of Gujarat who entered the public life during the mid eighties when woman empowerment was not much heard of. Essentially a teacher, Anandibahen has proved beyond doubts her competence, no-nonsense approach and innate wisdom. She presents in this article her take on the past and future forms of woman empowerment, citing a few role models who have impacted her life.

Besides the CM of Gujarat, there are many women achievers who have chosen to share their thoughts with the readers of Chitralekha, namely Raksha Bharadia, Acharyashri Chandanaji, Isha Kundanika alias Kundanika Kapadia, Kalpana Morparia, Dr. Firuza Parikh, Mrunalinidevi Puar, Mittal patel, Nawaz Singhani, Dr. Sharifa Vijaliwala, Rupal Desai, Gagandeep Gambhir, Anupama Chopra, Rujuta Diwekar and Kaajal Ojha Vaidya.

A much-acclaimed non-fiction author, Raksha Bharadia has edited as many as 14 titles of famous Chicken Soup Series. An orator par excellence, she is an accomplished Kathak dancer and runs workshops on Parenting at various schools. Bestowed with a gifted ability to touch the chords of young readers with her ‘human’ stories, Rekha shares her very inspiring life story.

Acharya Chandanaji’s discourse too is no less inspiring and motivating. Having made Virayatan in Bihar her base for propagation of Jainism, she has very smoothly transited from her objective of welfare of soul to welfare of people. The 77-year old sadhwiji is known for her revolutionary ideas and as a result her Virayatan Ashram and hospital have attracted the world attention for her path-breaking model of social service. Here she shares her vision of her idea of India.

While Kundanika Kapadia alias Isha Kundanika, a highly-respected Gujarati author agrees to reveal her dreams about herself and her vision of Bharat, the CEO of J P Morgan India Kalpana Morparia conveys her robust optimism about India. Even as the fitness Guru Nawaz Singhania, wife of industrialist Gautam Singhania, is quite upbeat about the future of fitness industry, another celebrity fitness expert and a renowned author Rujuta Diwekar echoes her sentiments and gives her own take on what fitness is.

Anupama Chopra, a leading film critic and Kaajal Oza Vaidya, a popular Gujarati author and columnist have unique things to share about themselves and their idea of India, in their own inimitable style.

The entire section on the Alfa Woman is quite inspiring and different and this is what makes it a must-read.

The second section of the Annual issue revolves around the hitherto little written about relationship between a father-in-law and his daughter-in-law. There were times when a time-worn barrier existed between the strict male fear-inspiring patriarch of the family and his docile daughter-in-law who maintained a distance out of sheer respect for family values, not to speak of social dogmas. No longer so. Now the times have changed and so have the people. Gone are the days when the daughters-in-law had no say in the family affairs. In order to get an insight into this unique relationship, Chitralekha delves deep into its nuances and interviews three families.

The first such family is that of Chimanlal Mehta whose daughter-in-law Mrs Dinabahen Mehta, a former president of Mumbai Stock Exchange is known for her contribution to the growth of capital market. Both Chartered Accountants father-in-law and daughter-in-law share the bonding that has been a basis of mutual respect for each other. Dinabahen goes a step further when she says my father-in-law is also my Guru.

The well-known sexologist Dr. Prakash Kothari and his daughter-in-law Shweta share a unique relation based on understanding, and talk about each other in their individual and endearing style.

The third such family is that of Purshottam Rupala, the BJP National Vice President and his daughter-in-law Sheetal Rupala. Both regard each other as a father and a daughter.

The last section of the Annual features such women who have not remained imprisoned in the narrow confines of being mother, daughter and wife but have stepped beyond and achieved something that compels you to commend them.

Meenal Pawar and Sharda who feature in this section have earned our admiration and respect.

A Power List of Great Gujaratis

Like every year, this year too, a Power list of leading Gujaratis accompanies the Annual-64. As is well known, the list comprises the profiles of those Gujaratis, in India or Abroad, who have displayed rare grit and gumption to make a difference in society they live in. They are stars in their own way and their works have made qualitative and substantive contribution to the lives of people around them.

The list includes heavy-weights like our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ahmed patel, Amit Shah, Amrut Gangar, Dr. Chinu Modi, Dr. Cyrus Poonawala, Darshan jariwala, Dipak Asher, Govindbhai Dholakia, Jaidev Patel, Joravarsinh Jadav, Jitendra Mehta, kantibhai Sonchhatra, Kundanika Kapadia, Labhshanker Thakker and so on and so forth.

A painstaking research has gone into the selection of names for this Power list. These are the people who have set an example worth emulating.

The last section of the Annual is mouth-watering, quite literally. It is a Recipe book carrying 64 recipes of yummy delicacies. No doubt, it is going to be a Collector’s book.

Suffice it to say, the Annual-64 offers a roller coaster ride the after-effect of which will linger on for quite some time.