Women on board

Aug 27, 2013, 07:31 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

>> Ever since there has been a consensus among corporate leaders that the number of women on corporate boards be raised from its current dismal 5.2 per cent, a few progressive business leaders like our friend Anjali Bansal of Spencer Stuart along with Arun Duggal of Sriram Finance have initiated a comprehensive Women on Corporate Boards mentorship program for potential women to be mentored by business leaders so that they can be adequately trained for the role.

KV Kamath

Key corporate statesman like Deepak Parekh, GM Rao, Saroj Poddar and TCS’ Damodaran have already been approached. And whereas we hear there is frantic lobbying among certain sections of corporate wives who see this as one more way to score brownie points over their rivals, we offer some serious names to be considered as candidates: these include Amita Haribhakti, the erstwhile and dynamic president of the IMC Women’s Wing, and wife of one of India’s most respected charted accountant’s Shailesh, Falguni Nayar who after a successful career of over two decades in financial services quit to launch Nykaa.com, a women-centric beauty and wellness e-commerce portal, (she has already been appointed as an independent member on the board of Tata Motors) and the mother-daughter team of Gita and Aparna Piramal Raje.

Deepak Parekh

Come to think of it educationist Smita Parekh, wife of Deepak who has led the Mahindra education initiative for many years herself is a prime candidate. And now that we’re on the subject shouldn’t the man who really started taking women seriously in the corporate domain and who bequeathed to the financial world some very fine women leaders like Chanda Kochhar and Kalpana Morparia -- ICICI’s Chairman KV Kamath be the top mentor in this worthy enterprise?

Sufi Gospel in town
>> We heard Sonam Kalra of the Sufi Gospel Project last year in the most appropriate of surroundings: under a starlit sky, up north in chilly Kasauli. It was on the occasion of the Khushwant Singh literary festival organised by his son Rahul and his partner Niloufer Billimoria.

Sonam Kalra

And besides the setting, the company was equally inspiring: director of Massey Sahib) and botanist Pradip Kishen whose newest book Jungle Trees of Central India is already a collector’s pride and Salima Hashmi, the acclaimed Pakistani artist and daughter of legendary poet Faiz Ahhmed Faiz.

Kalra whose repertoire spans both Indian and Western and who has trained with Shubha Mudgal and Chatterjee along with various genres of Western music, including Gospel, Jazz and Opera will be performing this Friday at the NCPA’s Tata theatre.

“The Sufi Gospel Project is living proof that many different Hallelujahs can exist in harmony. This is the message we want to share through our music.” We like!

Ultimate power dining
>> Talk about power dining: guess who were at the same restaurant at the same time on Sunday night in Mumbai? Mukesh Ambani with his entire family on one table, Ratan Tata on another and Harish Salve with a claque of half a dozen lawyers!

Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Harish Salve

All this at chef Ananda’s celebrated Thai Pavillon at the President Hotel!

Salaam Mumbai
Introducing Malavika Sangghvi’s take on Mumbai
>> So much has been said about the role of women in rape cases, what they wear, where they travel and how they behave and whether any of this contributes to the problem. So much is also said about the so-called repressed sexuality of our nation and how it leads to sexual crimes against women. I believe that rape has in fact, very little to do with sex and the desirability of women: babies get raped, old women and invalids get raped, and nuns have been raped. And as for women dressing provocatively being the cause, a recent study holds that the majority of rape victims have been dressed in sober, traditional attire. For a while I also believed that it was a class war that was the trigger point of most rapes.

A protest rally on Monday against the gang rape. Pic/Jay Mungekar

Men who have been frustrated and angered at forever being left out of life’s circle of advantages, would vent this anger and frustration by forcing themselves
on unattainable women when the opportunity arose.

The message behind the act was: so you think you’re special? But then even this belief did not explain all rapes: After all in the same mill complex not so very long ago, a mill owner’s son had been accused of raping a woman (he has since then been acquitted) twice his age and from a considerably lower social strata. It is not only men from low social backgrounds who rape. So devoid of the sexual angle and the class war/revenge theory what am I left with?

Just this thought: perhaps rape is just another expression of the deep rage and indescribable sickness that has engulfed us all. A rage that drives us to attack the most vulnerable amongst us. Politicians rape the country. Industrialists rape the earth and its natural resources. And men rape women and children.

There are people far more learned than I who have other opinions other theories and solutions and all of them are as valid and contain kernels of the truth too. Mine is this: in whatever way we can, in small ways and big, in known ways and unknown, if we can reduce the levels of anger discontentment frustration and hurt in ourselves and the world around us — we will be contributing to a solution.

What they say/what they mean
Bringing back an old MS favourite to remove the waffle, cut to the core and decode recent public pronouncements.

What they say:
"In our assessment, the project appraisal and the decision making in public sector banks has been more impressionistic rather than being information based. How else does one defend the eagerness of some banks to fund power distribution companies with negative net worth?"
— Excerpt from a recent speech on PSU bank lending to some staggeringly leveraged infrastructure companies by deputy governor KC Chakrabarty

What they mean:
"Good impressions are easily formed by the acquisition of yachts, private jets, luxury homes and generous Diwali remembrances to potential lenders." 

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