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August 21, 2016

Author Gunjan Jain on The Women Who Inspire India

Text by Huzan Tata

The author talks about her debut book, ‘She Walks, She Leads’

She Walks, She Leads  — Women Who Inspire India
Viking/Penguin Random House India

The author’s debut offering traces the lives of India’s most famous women in sports, entertainment and politics. The tome is filled with in-depth interviews and several anecdotes that aim to motivate.

Tell us how this book came to be.
“When I returned home after living abroad for a few years, I realised that the silhouette of the modern Indian woman had changed. They had high-profile jobs, ran successful industries and institutions, and reigned in creative vocations. These were the faces of a new India. I believed it was important to bring to light the journeys of these successful women to motivate a million others. That became the starting point of She Walks, She Leads.”

Which are your favourite anecdotes from the women featured in the book?  
“One incident is from Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murty’s courtship. Sudha told me that in his early days, Narayana never had any money on him and would request her to pay, with a promise to pay her back later. I was in splits, imagining the Infosys chief asking his girlfriend for a loan. But it also shows us the kind of couple they are. Another instance is Kareena’s (Kapoor Khan) admission that she would visit her sister on the sets, in the hope of meeting her favourite actors. She would also tell everyone that she would be a movie star when she grew up. And she did!”

Who has impacted you greatly?
“One is Mary Kom, probably because her life is so different from my own. Nothing has come easy to her, and she had to toil relentlessly for everything she wanted. Her grit and determination are what legends are made of. In the course of writing, whenever I felt defeated, the thought of her battling it out both in the ring and outside it trivialised my woes and made them appear manageable. She is a fantastic example of the never-say-die attitude.”

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
“The one thing I want people to imbibe is leadership values. What is clear to me is that these women do not merely boast skills or accomplishments, but live in a way that is conducive to success. I hope it will inspire them to push the boundaries and find a way to traverse borders and go beyond.”

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