As the old saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. For Pushpanjali Reddy, a successful architect, builder and industrialist, the need to know, fueled her desire to discover; discovery led her to explore; exploration revealed secrets of success. These inspiring stories made their way into de Facto, a ready reckoner for women.
Pushpanjali Reddy is the founder of Tropical Habitat India Pvt Ltd, a long-standing construction firm. She set up Ope Systems Pvt Ltd, to manufacture unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) windows used in her constructions. She is also the co-founder of Awel Energy, a go-green firm that deals with biomass and renewable energy. Being a self-made entrepreneur, she aspires to establish a platform that highlights achievements of women entrepreneurs in Bangalore.
The inaugural issue of de Facto will be released on the 8th of March 2010 on the occasion of the 99th International Woman’s Day. “The book is about women who have made significant changes to society and life”, says Pushpanjali. The first edition of this directory showcases achievements of women who have battled against the odds to carve a niche for themselves in different walks of life. It features path-breakers who have excelled in domains that have long been a man's stronghold. The book is scheduled to have an annual release and contains a comprehensive listing of women professionals and entrepreneurs based out of Bangalore.
Most of Pushpanjali’s business and social ventures have been preceded by challenges and accidents. When advised to undergo a surgery, she insisted on being operated upon by a lady. After bearing the pain for over a year, a laborious search led her to find a lady surgeon to perform the operation. This incident and the inconvenience it caused propelled her to create a medium of easy access to information about women professionals. Seeds of thought blossomed into an idea and de Facto was conceived.
Educational institutions, business holdings and professionals like consultants, architects, surgeons, advocates, fashion designers, veterinary doctors are listed in the book. It also features quotes by women, interesting trivia and must-knows. “It has been a difficult but fulfilling journey”, says Pushpanjali as she recounts her struggle to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Pushpa Dravid, her teacher during her course in architecture was the first to be profiled. Coffee taster Sunalini Menon, “Mango Rani” Sharmila Pattawardhan, India’s first lady veterinary doctor Sakkubai Ramachandran, graphics designer Sujata Keshavan, vocalist and danseuse Manasi Prasad, swimmer Nisha Millet, martial arts exponent Vandana Rao and social activist Rohini Reddy are some achievers featured in this issue of de Facto. “I feel that I have grown sixty years older in a year”, she says talking about the humbling experience of following these chronicles of success.
“The concept of featuring the achievements of multi-faceted women is great as there is no directory of this kind which highlights the achievements of women”, says Pushpa Dravid as she lauds the novel idea of creating a directory about women. Pushpa was conferred the state award for arts in 1997-1998. A professor of architecture at UVCE, she is the first candidate to be awarded a doctorate in arts from Bangalore University “Girls are hardworking and its tough to find time to pursue their interests as they have to go out to work and look after the family and home”, says Pushpa Dravid as she talks about the challenges she faced as a working woman while pursuing her interest in art.
Internationally renowned coffee cupper Sunalini Menon joined the Coffee Board of India as an Assistant Taster and went on to become the Director of Quality Control. With decades of experience in evaluating, roasting, tasting and qualifying coffee behind her, Sunalini started Coffelab in 1997. The laboratory manned by women, provides quality related services to assist the various stakeholders of the coffee industry in India.
Bangalore’s very own girl with the golden voice, Manasi Prasad leaves a trail of accomplishments as she scales new heights of success. An IIMB graduate, Manasi has excelled both in academics and in the field of art. Being recognized as one among the top ten students of all IIMs she was a recipient of the coveted Aditya Birla scholarship. Manasi has performed in over 500 concerts in India and abroad. In 2008, she was conferred the prestigious Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar awarded to exceptionally talented artists below the age of 35.
“de Facto is a solid idea and a good resource for women”, says Vandana Rao, a third degree black belt in the ancient Korean martial art Tang Soo Do. She trained under Master David Bell while in Fremont, California. After relocating to Bangalore, Vandana established The Healing Arts Center, a school of art. At this school she imparts training in Tang Soo Do, Chi Kung, a Chinese meditative practice and yoga. “Learning martial arts has strengthened my identity and made me focus on who I am. I have become a stronger mother, stronger daughter and stronger wife”, says Vandana.
The queen of the water, Nisha Millet who swam her way in the record books is also profiled in the book. In a career that spanned over 15 years Nisha has won about 600 gold medals in various events and still holds the record for the maximum gold medals in the National Games. She has won several prestigious awards including the Arjuna Award, Ekalavya Award and Rajyotsava Award. At present, Nisha is a much sought after coach who trains swimmers of various age groups.
Sujata Keshavan Guha is the co-founder of Ray and Keshavan, a firm that is a pioneer in the field of brand consulting and graphic design in India. The firm has been consistently ranked as India’s top design firm and Sujata was named as one of India’s top 30 powerful women. She is the only Indian graphics designer to have received the Advertising and Marketing (A & M) Graphics Designer of Year award twice.
The book also features Kapila Saigal, small town girl who has mastered the mantra of success. She landed her first job as a marketing executive and then went on to establish a printing business. Her desire to explore and excel prompted her to set up Chandni Chowk, a flamboyant restaurant in an up market location of Bangalore. Exquisite restaurants Heera Panna, Jalsa and Ruh followed the success of Chadni Chowk. Hats off to this lady who came Bangalore with just eight hundred rupees in her pocket!
At 79, Dr. Sakkubai Ramachandran who has the distinction of being the first lady veterinarian in India is the oldest achiever to be featured in de Facto. In 1948, Madras Veterinary College opened admission of girls and Sakkubai was one of two girls who joined the course that year. After graduating in 1952, she worked as a virologist and scientist at Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) till her retirement in 1991.
These women are living examples of the adage, “Triumph always begins with you” and are just a few of many who have launched themselves to the pinnacle of glory. The women of today are standing tall in what was once a man’s world. They dare to chase wild dreams and take the road less traveled. Defying the odds, can make the impossible, possible and are redefining the phrase that the “sky is the limit”.
This article was published in Bangalore Mirror on the 08th of March 2010. Below is the link to the online version of the article.