Tales of creative women

Loknath Das

From left: Artist Rakhi Poddar, musician Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, chief life insurance advisor LIC of India Lata Jain, designer Charu Parashar, lawyer and artist Bahaar Rohatgi, activist Ria Sharma, and acid attack survivor Soni Devi at the Mail Today Femail Summit 2019.

Passion and a conviction in doggedly pursuing their goals was the common thread that panelists shared at the third session of Mail Today’s Femail Summit on Wednesday.

All the panelists in this session had all gone flat out to chase their passions in their respective fields, and have subsequently flourished in them. Lawyer and artist Bahaar Rohatgi proved her enthusiasm for her career in art when she frankly stated, “I made the switch from a stable, secure career to a field where one doesn’t get recognition until one is dead, or you are 50 years old.” She added, “You don’t need to be qualified to be an artist, and you don’t need to worry about society’s validation and acceptance.” Rakhi Poddar, an accomplished artist herself, agreed saying, Anyone can be an artist, adding all one needed was the determination to succeed. Designer Charu Parashar countered with the statement, “Not everyone can be an artist, as what one really needs is passion.”

Activist and founder of the non-profit, Make Love Not Scars, Ria Sharma, also spoke on the importance of passion and belief, admitting that she had lacked them when she had studied fashion in the United Kingdom. Today, after becoming the first Indian to receive the United Nations Bill and Melinda Gates Goalkeepers Global Goals Award in 2017 for her work with acid-attack survivors, and her efforts to ban the over-thecounter- sale, Sharma says, “The real courage is shown by acid attack survivors. When you work with them, you cannot be the weak one.”

Lata Jain, chief life insurance advisor of LIC, also underlined the importance of rising against the odds, when she shared a remarkable story of starting to work in the insurance sector in 1993. “People didn’t understand the logic or importance of insurance back then. It was especially hard for me since I began working after my husband’s death to support my young children. There was no comfort for women working in insurance companies then.” She added how bewildering she found living and working in Delhi, after moving from Uttar Pradesh. Jain went on to emphasise that empowerment and financial independence helps women to not only cope, but conquer the odds. “My goal was to carve an identity for myself in a male-dominated field.”

On the other hand, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, a noted young musician who has performed across the world in a variety of genres, says she actually found her gender to be an advantage in her chosen field. “Art is sexualised all over the world, and music has become more visual.” She says being fairskinned advanced her opportunities and she took advantage of it. “I’ve never liked it, and I hope things change. This is why I really respect lyric writers, who really have something to say, and make people see things differently.” With the insight and faith these career-women have displayed, it’s no wonder that they are an inspiration to others.