Monday, March 8, 2010

The power of change

When French journalist and author Dominique Hoeltgen felt the urge to write a book about India, she knew she had to write it through the eyes of its women. Published by Éditions Philippe Picquier with the Alliance Française, Inde, la révolution par les femmes, roughly translated to Indian Women — The Power of Change, was launched last week in the city.

Having travelled the globe and written extensively about Algeria, Africa and Asia for 25 years, Dominique Hoeltgen has made Mumbai her home for the past four years. The writer’s chance meeting with Shabana Azmi opened her eyes to an artist turned activist’s passionate fight for the rights of slum dwellers to own their own homes. She says, “The more I thought about it, the more I spoke about it, I realised a lot of women in India are doing radical things to change the lives of others outside their private realms. Thus began my journey meeting women from different walks of life, in cities and countrysides, and what I discovered was beautiful.”

From pavement dwellers, bidi rollers and grassroots activists to advocates, bankers and industry leaders, Hoeltgen discovered one undeniable link. “There is this dynamism I saw in India that I’ve not seen anywhere else. People here have incredible energy — they react very quickly to gross injustices.”

The book contains interviews with names like Indira Jaisingh, Mallika Sarabhai, Ela Bhatt and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. Hoeltgen marvels at how women in India wield incredible power in diverse fields. “Women are top leaders here — this is something we don’t see even in cities like Paris, New York or London.”

Full report here DNA

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