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Naaree Interviews Nidhi Seth Of Empower

Nidhi Seth founded “Empower” to help Empowerment of Women through various awareness projects. She is one of the Managing Directors of the Luxury Solutions & Board Advisor to ASSOCHAM on the National Luxury Council.

She was recently honored with the “Super Women Achiever Award” at “The World Women Leadership Congress & Awards” where women from 66 Countries were awarded.

Nidhi Seth Empower

She is also State Chairperson of Luxury for All India Ladies League. An MBA in Finance & Marketing, she has worked in various Corporate organisations for 17 years including a few MNC banks.

Naaree caught up with Nidhi Seth to learn more about her Empower Initiative that aims to help victims of Domestic Violence.

Tell us more about the Empower Initiative and what you hope to achieve with it.

Empower is a movement to sensitize women not to silently bear atrocities from their Spouse. More than help them, the need is to mentally attune them to realise that they don’t have to continue to go through the situation they are going through by tolerating abuse.

They have a CHOICE to get out of the situation by not taking abuse in any form. Abuse constitutes verbal, physical, emotional, where a husband would hit his wife causing her physical pain, emotionally blackmailing her and verbally say abusive words to her.

Men who are abusive to women emotionally weaken the woman such that she feels that she is at fault. Such men even cry and apologize that they will not repeat abusing the women, but in actual sense, continue it again again. It puts an emotional drain on the recipient and healing can take ages to occur even when the situation is over.

Empower, Let’s Be The Change” will try to sensitize women who might be suffering in a similar situation to not suffer silently. Nobody has the right to hit you. DO NOT suffer in silence. Please speak up.

We will try to break this vicious circle by reaching out to women to garner the mental strength to Stand up for their Sake. We will sensitise Women to Be “A Victor” Than “A Victim.”

Though Empower we will reach out to women who will in turn reach out to more women. This chain will surely bring about an evolution. To not let any woman suffer, and to help this world become a better place to live for each human being.

What made you want to help victims of domestic violence and how do you plan to go about it?

There are many other Causes being spoken about like Cancer awareness, etc, but Domestic Violence which is such a sensitive topic is never discussed.

You would be surprised to know that Domestic Violence is prevalent in educated strata as well. And many women bear this silently. Your next door neighbor would be going through Domestic Violence and you would not even know about it.

I felt the need to do so when I realized there are women going through silently for years together. I went through Domestic Violence 10 years back when I was married to an abusive man. I almost saw a near-death experience when he tried to strangulate me.

Although I was an educated girl who had worked in the corporate world for many years, I was in that violent marriage for many months and did not have the mental strength to move away from the relationship, until my family helped me and stood by me.

Men like my ex-husband take advantage of the fact that we women don’t speak up and suffer silently, taking abuse physically, verbally, emotionally, mentally, etc.

I bounced back in life after moving away from the sour marriage and started living life again. People like him not only damage the dignity of one person, but always remain like this. He married another girl and continued with the same incidence of Domestic Violence with her.

When I won the “Super Women Achiever Award” last year at The World Women Leadership & Awards, I realized I need to do something more for society at large and need to speak up, for the sake of women at Large.

To show that we are not Victims but Victors in Life. I will not let another abusive man ruin the life of another girl.

You will be surprised, there are women going through Domestic Violence for years together silently, just because they don’t realize they can live a life of tranquility out of the relationship by speaking up. My aim is to sensitize society so that there is a dramatic shift mentally to support women which are going through Domestic Violence so that they can come out of their situation.

If we now let ourselves be defeated by cowardice, we lose the fundamental essence of humanity, turning us into objects submissive to the authoritarian power that is generating violence and fear in society. We will reach out to women stand up to take action and open the way forward for humanity.

What initiatives do you plan to take?

Causing harm to another human is inhuman, and the perpetrators besides inculcating mental, physical and verbal abuse , demean women to such an extent that they start feeling they themselves are the reason for the Cruelty and they deserve to be in the situation.

Women in such situations get emotionally weak and remain in the situation as the perpetrators manipulate the situation. If you can help one individual, you will help ten. Because in the circle of that one person, there will be ten others whose way will open.

We will reach out to women through Social Media and other events. This will help to create awareness amongst women to stand up against any abuse and to speak up.

We are tying up with Lawyers and other associations to provide emotional support and guidance to women who are looking for any help externally.

One action to consider is that society should boycott and ridicule men who inculcate Domestic Violence. Such perpetrators are freely roaming in society amongst us after hurting, not one but many, women. We, through Empower will encourage society to not support such men but speak up against these perpetrators.

Nidhi SethWhat message would you like women to understand with respect to domestic violence?

Women who go through Domestic Violence, never talk about it as society has conditioned us to remain silent.

And they become emotionally so weak that they start feeling after sometime that they this is their fate throughout life – that they have to undergo Domestic Violence and pretend to have a blissful married life to society.

They get conditioned to it and do not have the mental strength to think that they need to get out of the traumatic situation. It starts with a decision – to make up their mind to move out of the current situation. And the next step is to seek for help to move out of situation.

There are two ways to handle this situation:

One is to mentally and emotionally strengthen women by creating a society that allows women to come out and share what they are going through. The decisive moment when they realise that they will not stand any abuse.

The second is to tackle the situation legally or in other ways.

The biggest problem I think is the mental and emotional low that women who are going through. They do not realize that they should not stand through any abuse even for once, as people who inculcate Domestic Violence promise to change, but never change.

• To sensitize women to never tolerate any kind of abuse at any level-physical, verbal, emotional. Do NOT tolerate any of these.

• To never put up with abuse, no matter how contrite your partner is later. An abusive person rarely reforms. If you condone the first offence, chances are you’ll end up in a vicious circle of abuse – adoration – more abuse – apology. An abusive can really be manipulative. To sensitize women to come out of this vicious circle.

• Forgiving an errant partner is fine only if your partner has his basic values right. If your partner however makes his errors his habit, he will not change. He is just faking an apology.

• Don’t fool yourself that the situation would change automatically, and that your partner will improve. If he is abusive or an alcoholic, he does not care for basic human values.

• Children exposed to a foul marriage get permanently damaged. Scars rarely heal.

It is not easy to end a bad marriage. It is difficult, traumatic and hurtful. There is nothing more destructive than a damaged relationship. If the air you breathe in your house is foul, how healthy can be your life as a couple?

An enriching marriage is one which is based on love and respect. It should help both partners grow.

Do not tolerate abuse in the name of adjustment. A person who inculcates physical abuse on his wife is committing an act of inhumanity.

So stand up & don’t take abuse at all!

Any other insights you would like to share with us?

Some studies show that nearly 7 out of 10 women in India have suffered some kind of Domestic Violence. Most of the cases are unaccounted for.

Domestic Violence is prevalent both in educated & uneducated strata. It is surprising to see that it is more silent in the educated upper strata, where women bear atrocities silently and the men pretend to be the perfect husbands.

In many cases of abuse, women are hit badly and asked to cover up their bruises and lie to society that she fell down, etc. If she does not agree to the perpetrator’s demands, she is hit even more and sometimes maligned with false allegations. Such men fake an apology and continue to make their violence a habit

• An abusive person will try to put you down in front of people at every opportunity.

• An abusive husband will either have a drinking problem, a false ego problem or a feeling that he is superior in everything.

Each of us can help. Turn around and see if there is anyone in your neighborhood or friend circle who is going through Domestic Violence. Maybe you can make a difference.

Many women bear this through silently. Let’s stand up to take action and open the way forward for humanity. You can empower women to stand up as self reliant beings able to break thru crisis and redirect their lives to a better future.

Plant the seeds of empowerment now will make this a reality. The morning never fails to arrive. It represents hope. Let us open the doors to a brilliant future. Let us open the doors to life.


Naaree Interviews Antarctic Explorer, Felicity Aston

Whether you are a woman or a man, any great adventure must begin in the mind. Without immense mental power it is difficult to conquer the physical challenges that a truly great adventure entails.

A great adventure should make you conquer your own physical and mental limits and help you go beyond them. It is essentially an exploration of the self, and also of going beyond the self. In this process you become an even more potent, an even more evolved person than before.

Felicity Ashton 1

On one such great adventure concluded on the 23rd of January, 2012, a 34-year-old British adventurer and explorer from Kent, named Felicity Aston became the first woman in the world to ski solo across Antarctica.

Earlier a team comprising of female and male explorers did ski across Antarctica without kites or machines, but Aston has become the first person to do this solo.

She not only reached the superhuman limits of mental power and physical prowess to do what no human has done ever before, but also became the first person to ski across this icy continent without the help of kites or machines.

In doing so, she not only conquered Antarctica, but also her own limits and fears. We feature here, an account of her amazing journey and an interview with Ms Aston herself by reporter, Swarnendu Biswas.

Creating Her Story In Antarctica

It sounds unbelievable that she skied through 1084 miles of extreme cold and loneliness pulling two sledges carrying her supplies weighing 85 kg alone across Antarctica.

She hauled the two sledges around yawning crevasses, over tall mountains and into seemingly never ending headwinds to complete her expedition in 59 days without any human, machine or animal support.

On such lonely trips, there is no expectation of help coming from any quarter if something goes seriously wrong. You have to rely only on your talents and endurance to see you through.

Fortunately, Felicity has both of these in unimaginably high quantities, which helped her to achieve this seemingly impossible feat, with the support of only her uncommon mental and muscle power.

Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content and threat management solutions, sponsored Felicity’s journey. The expedition was named Kaspersky ONE Transantarctic Expedition.

Felicity Ashton 3

“My title sponsors were Kaspersky Lab with whom I have had a continuing relationship since they supported the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition that I led in 2009. I was also supported by CGR Group and Fantasea Adventure Cruises, as well as several equipment suppliers such as Montane and Mountain Equipment,” elaborated Felicity.

On the completion of her journey, Felicity said: “I cannot express how happy I am to have finally made it! The Kaspersky ONE Transantarctic Expedition represents a culmination of everything I experienced and learned before on other challenging journeys.”

“I prepared for it physically and mentally for a very long time. And finally here I am having reached my final destination, having got through some rather severe conditions, but most important of all having overcome my own fear. I will never forget this moment, and I am sure the memory will lead me on to other ventures in the future.”

Her 59-day-long expedition began at the Ross Ice Shelf and culminated at the Hercules Inlet.

“I flew from Punta Arenas in Chile to a base camp in Antarctica called Union Glacier. I was then flown by a small aircraft to the Ross Ice Shelf at the foot of the Leverett Glacier (S 85 25).”

“I passed through the trans-Antarctic mountains via the Leverett Glacier and onto the plateau. Following that I arrived at the South Pole and then continued towards the far coast on the Ronne Ice Shelf to a place called Hercules Inlet (S 79 58).”

Felicity Ashton 4“I was lifted from this point by a small aircraft and returned to the base camp at Union Glacier, before flying back to Chile,” elaborated Felicity while summing up her momentous journey quite dispassionately.

In order to give a more accurate assessment of her Herculean achievement, you need to know that Antarctica is the world’s southernmost continent, which also encapsulates the South Pole.

The continent does not have any permanent human habitation, except for the 1000 to 5000 people who reside at the research stations scattered across the continent.

Though she undertook the Kaspersky ONE Transantarctic Expedition from the 25th November to 23rd January, when it was summer in Antarctica (when it is bright daylight at night for 24 hours a day), the temperature on her journey fluctuated from Minus 28 to Minus 40 Degrees Centigrade.

That is twice as cold as the inside of a refrigerator! Moreover, the continent is almost permanently covered throughout the year with a thick sheet of ice. Only cold-adapted organisms like algae, penguin, mites, seals, survive there on a permanent basis.

Enduring the Cold and the Bad Weather

“The cold was challenging because it was relentless. In fact, you cannot escape the cold in an Antarctic expedition unless you are keeping yourself comparatively warm by moving about or in a tent,” she affirmed the lady. But the cold was only one of her many challenges in the expedition.

“The wind brings the temperatures down even further and it was windy pretty much all the time! I also gained a lot of altitude during the expedition as the South Pole sits at over 3000 meters, so the effect of high altitude and the cold, dry air made things difficult physically,” she added as her blue-grey eyes twinkled with excitement while she reminisced about her journey through the remotest place on Earth.

4The much-more-than-freezing iciness was of course supplemented by tricky terrain, crevices, transatlantic mountains, and frequent bad weather. Yes, her Antarctic expedition was frequented by bad weather, and sometimes there was bad weather for three to four days at a stretch.

“But then when the sun eventually used to come out, it used to feel nothing short of a miracle, which used to make me euphoric and moved me to tears,” observed Felicity, expressing her delight on seeing sun dogs and sun halos, which are fascinating tricks of light seen around the South Pole.

Felicity was moved by the little things that occurred. “It was usually the small things that made my day during my expedition; the dramatic cloudscapes, the texture of the snow, a rainbow around the sun will all be permanently etched in my memories” she said as her voice became heavy with emotion.

It is an amazing reflection of her resilience that she only stopped “once for the day due to weather.” Bad weather did delay the start of her expedition by two weeks.

“Luckily I was able to cover much more ground than expected once I left the South Pole and headed for the coast due to the fact that this part of the journey is mostly downhill and the wind is behind you,” says Felicity.

Wasn’t there a risk in travelling despite persistent bad weather? Or does nature sometimes bow down before the unwavering human spirit, we asked.

Felicity didn’t answer this question. Instead she says, “There was always a time pressure throughout my trip and this was foremost in my mind, so although I experienced a lot of bad weather, I felt I had no choice but to ski despite that.”

The Sheer Challenge of Loneliness

Besides the sheer and relentless cold, winds and drifting snow, there was the incomprehensible cold of loneliness with no one to speak to or ask for support, which made her journey still more daunting.

Felicity had to counter the challenge of deep crevasses, trans-Antarctic mountains, and headwinds across the vast central plateau to the South Pole.

Felicity Ashton 8

But according to this intrepid explorer with a continual thirst for adventure and several challenging and successful expeditions to her credit, “The greatest challenge was not the physical difficulties pertaining to the cold, the altitude, etc. but the mental challenge of being alone in such a remote and hostile environment.”

She admitted that though the journey was extremely arduous and demanding in physical terms, but the mental challenges were tougher to handle. She hadn’t seen a single person in the last three weeks of her journey!

Felicity admitted that she found the mornings most challenging to handle, where the incredible loneliness of being, almost unnerved her. At times she thought she couldn’t continue with the expedition any further but she countered such negative thoughts eventually.

She said that sometimes she countered such thoughts with positive thinking and other times with a good cry, and some other times simply with music.

She was also extremely candid to admit that she was indeed scared time and again during her journey. However, her resolve to conquer Antarctica was much stronger than all her fears combined.

In fact, she was more enthusiastic to talk about the euphoric highs and the scary moments of her exploration than her stupendous success.

One such scary moment occurred when she had to cross two crevices on 22nd January; in the last leg of her journey. Another fearful moment occurred earlier in the trip, when her lighter stopped working.

She had to clutch on to her remaining 46 matches and had to count them time and again while spending them extremely frugally as her journey progressed. Thankfully, the lighter started working again at a lower altitude.

Her honesty not only heightens her greatness, but also proves to us again that true courage is not the absence of fear, but the sheer grit to conquer it. And true strength is not the absence of vulnerability but the ability to persevere despite it.

In extreme adventures like this, the thin line between fear and euphoria, challenges and opportunities gets blurred. “It is strange that often the most difficult experiences during the expedition were also, in retrospect, some of my most treasured memories because it is when times are hard that you really find out about yourself,” states Felicity.

Humour and Food

Having a great sense of humour too helped. The fact she is able to see the funny side of an extremely grim situation helped her to relentlessly carry on her journey against all odds.

Felicity Ashton 6Despite the loneliness and the desperation she sometimes felt, she also felt that there were lots of funny moments too, during those 59 days and ‘day-like nights.’ “It was important to keep laughing at myself and recognising the absurdity of my situation.

Crawling around on my knees to put up my tent in the evening because I was so tired, or attempting to wash my underwear and ending up with it being frozen solid, could all have been demoralising if I had not been able to see the funny side of those situations,” she admitted.

I was extremely curious to learn about the diet that facilitated her courage and strength to reach supreme heights during the expedition.

“For breakfast I would eat porridge or instant noodles followed by coffee, and in the evening I would eat a freeze-dried meal high in carbohydrates and protein, along with lots of chocolate and a protein drink. During the day I couldn’t stop to eat and so would snack on chocolates, nuts and sweets as I skied.”

“I also used carbohydrate powders in my water and took a number of vitamins and minerals each day including magnesium, zinc and antioxidants. My daily rations contained around 5000 Kilocalories,” she says.

Her calorie intake during the trip was just double the calorie intake of an otherwise healthy man. Considering her enormous physical challenge, it was surprisingly low.

A Date With Antarctica

“I wanted to explore alone across Antarctica to explore my own mental and physical limits and also to satiate my curiosity to see more of this wonderful continent,” said Felicity when I asked her what induced her to undertake this momentous challenge against such huge odds of nature.

“I was also keen to see whether I was capable of completing this challenge that I first set up in my mind, and that kept me going,” she elaborated. Despite such insurmountable odds, she describes her latest journey across Antarctica as “an amazing privilege.”

Felicity is no stranger to Antarctica. A seasoned meteorologist by training, this veteran explorer who has taken part and has also led many successful expeditions across challenging geographies, began her date with Antarctica when she was barely 23.

Felicity Ashton 9

“My first job after leaving the university was with the British Antarctic Survey. At 23, I was sent to Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula to be a meteorologist. I arrived at the base in December 2000 and didn’t leave again until April 2003.”

“So I spent three summers and two winters continuously in Antarctica, at the early part of my career. After that, I was hooked to adventure,” she said as her engaging laughter resonated through my mind.

In fact, this record-creating trip was her fourth visit to Antarctica. “The first time I stayed in this wonderful, lonely and icy continent for three long years, the second time I led the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition, comprising the largest and the most international team of women to ski to the South Pole, and the third was an expedition to drive to the South Pole in modified 4×4 trucks,” she explains.

A Born Explorer

Besides her adventures in Antarctica, Felicity has to her credit the success of leading expeditions to Greenland and Siberia. She has also taken part in adventures in the Canadian Arctic.

That is not all. She has searched for meteorite craters in Quebec, traversed the winter ice of Lake Baikal, and completed the infamous Marathon Des Sables across the Moroccan Sahara.

“I have been extremely fortunate to travel to some incredible places in the world but my heart lies in the colder regions,” states Felicity.

She is a pilot too with a private pilot license to her credit, though she doesn’t fly much these days. She is also a prolific author and an inspiring public speaker.

Her globally acclaimed book, “Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole” is about selecting, training and leading the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition team in 2009. It was an eight-member all women team.

“The book describes how the project came about, my travels to each country to select the women and how we trained together before travelling to Antarctica. It then describes the ups and downs of our journey together across Antarctica; to the South Pole,” describes Felicity. The book is available online through both international book sites and India-specific sites.

I asked her about the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition team in 2009 and learned that her eight-member women team comprised members from the Commonwealth countries of Cyprus, India, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, New Zealand, Jamaica and the UK – many of whom had little or no previous expedition experience.

In fact, before joining the expedition many of the team members had never been in sub-zero temperatures, put on a pair of skis or spent the night in a tent – a fact which made the challenge they undertook even more remarkable and challenging!

Felicity led the international women’s team who skied through 900 km across Antarctica, and on 29th December 2009, she and her team reached the Geographic South Pole.

Felicity Ashton 10

“The aim of the expedition was to demonstrate the potential of greater inter-cultural understanding, raise awareness of the work and value of the modern Commonwealth and to highlight the achievements of women around the world. The 900 km journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole took 38 days, with us arriving at the Pole in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary year of the Commonwealth,” explains Felicity.

Reena Kauchal Dharmshaktu was the member of the team from India. By taking part in the expedition she became the first Indian woman to ski to the South Pole from the coast of Antarctica.

Despite achieving legendary status, Ms Ashton denies having any superhuman quality that propelled her to successfully undertake this near impossible solo exploration.

“I don’t think that I have any superhuman quality. I am no more special than anyone else; I believe we all have great potential to persevere and to achieve,” she states enthusiastically, adding, “The only difference is that I have chosen to test myself in this way whereas others might choose business, academic achievement, the arts or another field of their interest and passion.”

Felicity has great advice for mankind too. “As human beings, I don’t believe we give ourselves enough credit for what we are capable of. We can all do great things and each of us needs to explore her/his own talents and get the most out of herself or himself,” explains the great lady.

Her inspiring words made even a person like me aspire to something great, even if in a dream. Despite her superwoman strengths and achievements, Felicity came across as an extremely down-to-earth person.

As the interview was winding up, I realised an iota of her inspiring power transmitting within me too. I asked her to come to India in the near future.

“I would dearly love to come to India and have some memorable adventures; you have a thriving adventure community here already. I would love to make some journeys with my ex-team mate Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu in the Himalayas that she knows so well,” she expressed.

Her Adventurous Self

The adventure bug bit Felicity quite early in the day. At the end of her first year at the University College London (UCL), where she studied Physics and Astronomy, Felicity joined a British Schools Exploring Society expedition to South-West Greenland.

There, she and her team members spent three weeks mapping the archaeological remains of Viking’s settlements, which was supposed to be followed by spending a week exploring Greenland’s inland ice.

They made it to the fringe of the ice-cap before having to turn back. Felicity remembers looking over her shoulder at the ice as they left and promising herself that one day she would make it over that white horizon. She did fulfill that promise in her Arctic Foxes Greenland Quest, in 2006.

Two years later, on her first expedition to Greenland, Felicity travelled to a remote part of northern Quebec in Canada with a small group of students to search for evidence of meteorite impact craters.

Though the findings of the expeditions were inconclusive, the experiences, which included the team’s hired boat being decimated by lightning, taught her a great deal about being prepared for the unexpected.

After completion of her degree, Felicity did her Masters in Applied Meteorology from the University of Reading. Then she got her first job as a meteorologist with the British Antarctic Survey. The rest is history, sorry HERstory…

During her maiden stint in Antarctica, Felicity spent two-and-a-half years at a stretch in the ‘bottom of the world,’ living and working at Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, between 2000 and 2003. Besides monitoring ozone depletion and climate, her job involved looking after a small outpost and aviation re-fuelling depot during the austral summer.

It is simply amazing that at times, Felicity and a colleague were the only two people on an island whose size was approximately that of Wales!

Since 2004, Felicity has established herself as a freelance travel writer and professional speaker besides continuing to organise and lead her own expeditions.

Felicity’s projects have been awarded the Captain Scott Society ‘Spirit of Adventure Award’, the Wilderness Award, and Timberland ‘Make it Better’ Scholarship, as well as earning support from the National Geographic Expeditions Council in the US and the Transglobe Expedition Trust.

In the UK, she has been made a Churchill Fellow by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and an honorary member of both The Commonwealth Club and Rotary International.



Turn Your Passion Into A Business

10 Business Ideas For Women Startups: Turn Your Passion Into A Business

Being a women entrepreneur is not a cake walk. You have to deal with lethargic employees, incompetent vendors, bothersome customers and more. Women are blessed with multi-tasking skills and are capable of doing many things at a time.

One may ask, how can they do so many things at one go? Does the constant urge to prove themselves and be highly driven by ambition makes them great entrepreneurs?

The emergence of mom entrepreneurs is the aptest example of women who are ambitious and armed with a go-getter attitude, despite a lot of challenges.

Women follow their heart, so their passion keeps them ticking and helps them to come up with out of the box ideas to start and promote a business. Also, we see a lot of women who successfully convert their passion to business.

It’s not a new trend that we see women pursuing their entrepreneur dream around their passion. We have seen ladies starting tailoring, mehendi classes or tutions in our colony during our childhood.

Today, the tailoring job is replaced with a home boutique, a mehendi class with an Art Academy, and a home tuition class with a Coaching Institute. We have seen these superwomen evolving from stay-at-home-moms or home-makers into full-fledged entrepreneurs.

Here are a few top business ideas that any woman can explore by following her passion to create a business with minimal resources.

1. For the woman who loves to ‘dress-up’

This is good news for the lovely ladies who love to dress up and follow the latest fashion trends in women’s clothing. Once you know that people admire your styling and your personality, you can cash on those factors.

Get a certification in courses like image consultant, fashion designer, make-up and grooming courses. You can launch with a small workshop or get your friends to join up as clients to get your business rolling. This will ensure a great beginning for your start-up as you know word of mouth spreads faster amongst women than any PR tools.

2. For the woman who loves creativity

Women who love creativity, and can express themselves in the form of creating artwork or crafts, can gradually turn their passion to business. Pursuing their creativity and exploring options to showcase and sell their work can create a pretty decent income.

Later you can also consider taking up business opportunities in interior designing or holding art workshops. With the boom in online shopping, you can also open ecommerce shops with minimal investment.

3. For a woman who loves to travel

Women who love adventure, exploring new places and learning more about different cultures and people can hit a jackpot in the travel industry. You can become a ‘for women only’ travel guide, a travel blogger, or start your own travel agency online.

4. For the women who love to ‘frame life’

A woman who loves to explore life through frames and lenses can start a photography business. There is a huge demand for professional photographers, even for small birthday parties.

Working with themes and props you can start your own studio and start making money. Working closely with wedding events, and party and renowned hotel chains in the city can give you a good clientele.

You can find places to showcase your photos and sell them online, such as stock photo sites.

5. For the woman with a flair for writing

The woman who loves to voice her opinion on everything, and who can also put her thoughts into words beautifully, can start a lucrative business in the field of freelance writing.

You can explore freelance content writing options, become a blogger or can even publish a book. The options for becoming an author in India have grown and you can consider self-publishing or publishing through one of the many publication houses.

6. For the woman who loves to network

Are you the kind of woman who loves to build relationships over a small conversation in a lift? Or a woman who is a practical yellow page guide for everything on earth, whether it is a wedding planner or florist or a small home-baker?

If you’re the one, then you can make the best of your contacts and networking skills. You can start your own PR and Marketing agency, or an event marketing agency and create a great business from your contacts.

7. For the woman who loves hosting parties

Women who love hosting house parties or get-to-together can try exploring business opportunities as a ‘Party Planner’ or a Wedding Planner.

Your eye for detail and creative ideas are sure to make you a hit, whether it’s for a kids’ birthday party, organizing wedding anniversaries, or even planning a big Indian wedding.

8. For the woman loves to sing or dance

For the woman who loves to sing or dance, starting a teaching academy for singing or dancing is the perfect option. You can get a certification in singing or dancing by doing a crash course with a famous singer or dancer.

You can run summer camps and winter funks in schools, your colony and kids play areas. This will help you enjoy your work and bring joy to lots of people desirous of learning singing and dancing.

Who knows, one of your students could even go on to become a famous Bollywood star. 🙂

9. For the woman who loves to bake

There is a huge demand in metro cities and small towns for home-bakers. Women who love baking can always explore business opportunities in the pastry industry. You can either sell items like cookies, muffins, vegan cakes and so on or start baking classes in your city.

You can start with small orders and small batches of students and grow as a baking academy. You can even start a baking blog or a YouTube channel showcasing your baking recipes and techniques.

10. For the woman who loves to cook

If you are a woman who thinks cooking is the best healing therapy for you, then exploring business opportunities as a chef can be the best thing for you. With the success of MasterChef, we also see a lot of teenagers, kids and even young professionals who want to try their hand at cooking different cuisines.

If cooking is your passion and the kitchen your dream destination, then you can start a home-catering business or cooking classes from your home. If your food is well-received, you can even go on to start your own restaurant or catering service.

Today, home-cooked meals are in high demand in metro cities, especially with people employed in the corporate sector. Starting a tiffin or dabba service is also a very lucrative option for women who love to cook.

You can also join a course to learn how to start and grow your food blog. You’ll get access to a library of over 300 easy-to-understand videos made for beginner to intermediate food bloggers and an active community forum where you can get your questions answered.

I hope these tips and suggestions on how to start your own business help the women who aspire to have it all.

I would like to know your opinion on the business ideas suggested by me. Also, let me know if at all I’ve missed out on any important and interesting business ideas for women to explore. Looking forward to hearing from you ladies.

Want to learn how to start your own business? Or bring new ideas and energy to your current organisation? Develop key entrepreneurial skills with short online entrepreneurship courses from top universities and business schools.

 About the Author:

Nidhi Pathak writes about fashion and beauty at Fasheo. She loves exploring with colours and creating her own style statement. Nidhi Pathak is a working Indian mother who loves to write about women, motherhood and parenting. She also enjoys scrapbooking with her daughter and reading about young women entrepreneurs.

10 Business Ideas For Women Entrepreneurs - Turn Your Passion Into A Business10 Business Ideas For Women Startups - Turn Your Passion Into A Business

Vandana Shiva

Naaree Interviews Vandana Shiva: Eco-Feminist And Radical Environmentalist

By Swarnendu Biswas / Photos © 2010 Kartikey Shiva

She is a true radical. She has been one of the strongest voices in favour of organic agriculture and organic food on this ravaged planet, where natural resources are fast becoming depleted thanks to the unbridled greed of many large corporates.

Vandana Shiva

What is even more remarkable, is that she raised her voice at the height of the propaganda of the Green Revolution, exposing the myriad economic failures and human tragedies of chemical agriculture, when such opinions were not at all fashionable to voice, both in India and outside.

The Green Revolution, in her own fiery words, “have left a legacy of diseased soils, pest-infested crops, water-logged deserts, and indebted and discontented farmers in Punjab, within two decades of its spread.”

It takes tremendous resolve to swim against the popular current of public opinion with the objective to explore the truth behind the advertisements, and with a genuine concern to uplift a large part of humanity from the perpetual misery perpetrated by a cartel of powerful blocks, but she has managed to change the mindsets and lives of many along her way, spearheading an organic movement in the process.

Her humanism spruced with vast scholarship and revolutionary thought makes Dr. Vandana Shiva, a name, that today has the power to make many harmful pesticide and fertiliser manufacturers uncomfortable.

Vandana rightly believes that the continuous war of unbridled greed against the planet earth is bigger than the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. “The war against the earth has its roots in an economy which fails to respect ecological and ethical limits – limits to inequality, to injustice, to greed and to economic concentration,” she notes in her celebrated work titled ‘Making Peace With the Earth’.

And she is one of the few courageous proponents of enduring peace as an alternative to this ongoing war to deplete Planet Earth’s resources and decimate its fragile eco-system.

Over the last three decades, Vandana has fought a tireless battle to bring about potent changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food, and made her enduring scholarly and activism imprints on the domains of intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics, and genetic engineering.

Apart from being one of the most important leaders of the organic movement in India, she has contributed to the grassroots organisations of the green movement in other countries of Asia, and also in Africa, Latin America, Austria, Switzerland, and Ireland, with campaigns against genetic engineering.

Beginnings of a Journey

Armed with a Phd. in ‘Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory,’ from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, Vandana was trained to become a physicist. But her urge to free our natural resources, and our toiling farmers, from the greed of multinationals, induced her to leave a promising career in academics, after successive tenures with the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and IIM, Bangalore respectively.

Her fruitful experience with the Chipko movement, the famous non-violent forest conservation movement, in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttaranchal (a state that was once part of Uttar Pradesh) in the early 1970s, where activists hugged trees in order to prevent them from being felled by the contractors, gave a kick-start to her dormant conscience towards the environment and food security.

“My journey towards ecological sustainability began with the Chipko movement in the 1970s, when women and men in the region of the Himalayas protected forests by hugging trees,” she notes.

Later, her study on the environmental pitfalls of limestone mining around Mussorie, in the Doon valley, which was threatening to spoil the pristine beauty and environment of the area, induced a public interest litigation.

The public interest litigation was followed by a landmark Supreme Court judgement that eventually stopped limestone mining around Mussorie, in 1983. Seeing her scholarly study translating into tangible human welfare, Vandana was further encouraged to infuse her environmental conscience with scholarship and activism.

The environmental disaster originating from the Union Carbide India Limited’s pesticide plant – which sparked a colossal human tragedy in Bhopal – and the long-drawn violence of separatism in Punjab (which her research revealed to be influenced by huge ecological and political demands of the green revolution), eventually induced her to leave a glorious and secure academic career and charter a life amidst the turbulent waters of independent scholarship and environmental activism.

She began a new chapter in her life by founding the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in 1982, a participatory, public interest research organisation and that set the ball rolling. Over the years, studies by RFSTE have substantiated the ecological value of traditional farming, and played a crucial role in fighting anti-people development projects in India.

In 1991, she gave birth to Navdanya, a pioneering national movement with the objective of protecting the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, and the promotion of organic farming and fair trade.

Navdanya can also be construed as a sustained program of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, which, over the years, has acted to protect biodiversity, defend farmers’ rights and promote organic farming.

shiva 5Into Organic Farming

Organic farming is a form of agriculture that does not use or highly limits the use of manufactured fertilisers and pesticides, plant growth regulators such as hormones, food additives and genetically modified organisms. Here, pesticides, include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

One can say that organic agriculture is a method of farming which primarily practices the cultivation of the land, and raises crops, by the use of organic wastes like crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes, and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes.

These materials release nutrients to crops, leading to sustainable agricultural production in an eco-friendly environment, without polluting influences. Organic farming relies on natural methods of pest control and helps to maintain the soil in good health for a long time.

According to Vandana, and many other proponents of the organic food movement, organic food is much healthier than artificial pesticide and fertiliser-influenced agricultural produce.

Simply put, organic farming involves crop rotation, use of green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain the productivity of the soil, and depends on a natural ecological cycle to keep the pests at bay.

According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, “Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved…”

Organic farming is not a novelty or a fashion in India, but has been a part of its agricultural legacy since millennia. However, since the advent of the Green Revolution, the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides has become rampant in Indian agriculture.

This has been largely to the detriment of the health of the soil, the health and financial health of the farmers, and also the health of the consumers of pesticide-laden agricultural products. The gainers have been the huge corporations, with the farmers and consumers being the losers.

An Earth Shifting Movement

Navdanya is one of the few powerful movements in the world in favour of organic farming, biodiversity and seed conservation. Navdanya is also a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 17 Indian states. It has also established 111 seed banks, which are spread across 17 states of the country.

For more than two decades, Navdanya has been tirelessly promoting biodiversity conservation, organic farming, the rights of farmers, and the process of seed saving.

“When I found global corporations wanted to patent seeds, crops or life forms, I started Navdanya to protect biodiversity, defend farmers’ rights and promote organic farming,” explains the visionary lady, adding, “Navdanya/RFSTE’s journey over the past two decades has taken us into creating markets for farmers and promoting tasty, healthy, high quality food for consumers.”

Navdanya has a primary membership of more than 70,000 farmer families spread across 17 states of India which include Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka among others.

In 2004, Navdanya also set up a learning center named Bija Vidyapeeth (School of the Seed), which is an international college for sustainable living, in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K. This unique college was set up on Navdanya’s biodiversity conservation and organic farm, located in Doon Valley, Uttranchal.

Navdanya has its own seed bank and organic farm spread across 20 acres. Over the years, it has successfully conserved more than 5000 crop varieties which include 3000 varieties of rice, 95 varieties of wheat, 150 of kidney beans (rajma), 15 of millets and several varieties of pulses, vegetables, medicinal plants, etc.

Besides championing the ongoing organic food revolution, Navdanya is actively involved in infusing vitality into indigenous knowledge and culture. It has generated awareness and disseminated relevant information and knowledge on the hazards of genetic engineering, and has safeguarded people’s knowledge from biopiracy, and also defended food rights, which are continually being thwarted by globalisation and climate change.

The Human and Financial Cost

For pioneering scientist and environmentalist, Vandana Shiva, the right cure for our ailing planet is a shift from violent agriculture that is hugely dependent on pesticides and fertilisers and high-yielding seeds, to the sustainable, organic agriculture where nature is unhindered in providing food for its people.

She is one of the few fearless thought leaders of our times, who has the courage and the conviction to advocate putting the rights of Mother Earth and our future generations above ceaseless profit, and fight a constant battle against corporate control of the planet’s limited resources, despite shrill advertisements and manufactured news and research pointing to the contrary.

“About 75 percent of degradation of soils is due to influence of chemicals like fertilisers,” asserts Vandana, pointing out that agriculture with fertilisers or chemical agriculture requires 10 times more water than sustainable agriculture to produce the same amount of food, causing quicker depletion of our water resources. She wisely terms chemical or industrial agriculture as “thirsty agriculture.”

Vandana explains that, as a result of practicing the Green Revolution model of violent agriculture, which is water-intensive chemical farming, India has over-exploited her reservoir of groundwater, paving a situation of water famine in the process.

Moreover, the huge costs of pesticides involved in chemical agriculture have also burdened countless farmers with mammoth piles of debt, from which the only escape for some of them has been suicide. Ironically, many of the suicides are through consumption of pesticides. She notes in ‘Making Peace With the Earth’ that “Pesticides which had created debt also become the source of ending indebted lives.”

Those who escape suicide, may not necessarily escape cancer, as some pesticides can cause cancer too. “The legacy of the Green Revolution has made Punjab the toxic capital of India,” adds Vandana. She affirms that from Punjab to Bhopal pesticides have been responsible for ending thousands of lives.

One of the potentially lethal pesticides is endosulfan, which, according to Vandana, is a broad-spectrum organochlorine insecticide, which is acutely toxic and an endocrine disruptor.

The aerial spraying of this potentially lethal pesticide across 11 Panchyats of Kasaragod district in Kerala, on the cashew estates of the state-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala for over two decades has led to the bone-chilling Kasaragod Tragedy, leaving 500 people dead, and 10,000 deformed.

Many newborn children of these areas were also born with diseases and/or deformities. Of course, the surrounding environment was also damaged to a great extent. Only recently has endosulfan has been banned nationally. Vandana laments that its global production is still about 9000 metric tonnes.

That is not all. Besides incurring huge cost in terms of natural resources and health, chemical agriculture contributes to the erosion of our biodiversity. “In fact, 75 percent of the destruction of our biodiversity is accounted for by chemical agriculture involving fertilisers and pesticides,” claims the scientist-environmentalist.

shiva 2Saving the Eco-system and Environment

“Industrial agriculture is shoving many species to extinction through its sustained application of toxic chemicals which are contributing towards the elimination of bees and butterflies, and also towards the elimination of our earthworms and other soil organisms that create soil fertility,” observes Vandana.

The role of bees, butterflies and earthworms in our eco-system cannot be overemphasised.

Bees and butterflies with their pollinating potential are responsible for the survival of the flowering plants, and, without them, agriculture, the food & beverage industry and in fact, the entire eco-system may collapse, and earthworms enhance soil fertility, without incurring any great cost.

We are indeed paying a huge price for our excessive dependence on farming with pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. Vandana opines that agriculture, which is excessively dependent on manufactured pesticides, “decimates the beneficial living organisms in the soil, which include beneficial bacteria and earthworms.”

The fact that chemical agriculture promotes a monoculture of crops and prevents diversity of crop production is another grouse against its practice. “Many plant and animal varieties are dwindling as monocultures are fast replacing biodiversity,” Vandana elaborates.

She enlightens my limited knowledge when she informs me that, besides using huge quantities of non-renewable energy for producing food and its transport, industrial agriculture contributes to 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn destabilises agriculture by creating chaotic climatic conditions.

This eventually jeopardises our food security. And there is no denying the fact that one of the common causes behind droughts, floods and cyclones is climate change.

“Industrial agriculture facilitates climate change through the direct use of fossil fuels and the emission of carbon dioxide and also through the application of fossil fuel-based nitrogen fertilisers, which emit nitrogen oxide,” explains Vandana.

As I was letting all this information and the extent of environmental damage sink into my mind, she also casually imparts the shocking fact that nitrogen oxide happens to be 300 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide!

Benefits of the Organic Movement

On the other hand, she says, organic farming contributes to mitigation of climate change, through eliminating agri-chemicals like synthetic fertilisers, and sequestering carbon in soil. “In organic agriculture, water retention and the drainage capacity of the ecosystem are being increased and the threat of floods and droughts are lower,” states Vandana.

In fact, this pioneering scientist claims that bio-diversity-based organic farming systems can provide solutions to the three huge problems of climate crisis, food crisis and water crisis. You don’t need rocket science or an Einstein to realise that these three mammoth problems, if perpetuated with the same degree, can take the planet to extinction.

She explains to me how organic agriculture can contribute towards alleviating the water crisis of the planet. “Organic agriculture entails agricultural production based on water-prudent crops, it uses one-tenth of the water that the chemical agriculture requires for producing the same quantity of food, and thirdly, the increase in organic matter transforms the soil into a water reservoir, which lowers the demand for irrigation, and facilitates towards conservation of water in agriculture,” elaborates Vandana.

The Menace of GM Crops

Vandana is also very critical of the direction genetic engineering is taking in the field of agriculture. “Genetic engineering was supposed to provide an alternative to toxic chemicals, instead it has led to an increase in the use of pesticides and herbicides,” she cites in her book, noting that genetic engineering in agriculture is responsible for the creation of super pests and super weeds.

She believes that genetic engineering in agriculture decimates the resilience and metabolism of the plant, and infuses genes for generation or toleration of higher dosages of toxins.

“Time and again, people have been told that genetically modified crops will increase yields and thereby produce more food, control pests and weeds, and provide the farmers with drought-tolerant seeds, which will be resilient to climate change. But all these claims have proved to be false,” states the champion of the organic food movement.

She informs me that genetic engineering has not been successful in raising the yield of a single crop till date. “Navdanya’s research has unearthed that contrary to Monsanto’s claim of the Bt cotton’s yield of 1500 kg per acre, the reality is much more dismal. Its yield is an average of just 400-500 kg per acre,” states Vandana

Vandana notes that, though genetically engineered crops cannot feed the world, it can easily harm health. She cites biochemist Arpad Pusztai’s research that according to her, shows “the rats fed with GE potatoes developed enlarged pancreas, suffered shrunken brains and had damaged immunity.”

The recent French study that showed that mice who ate genetically modified corn sprayed with weed killer were more likely to develop tumors, organ damage and die early, has also raised concerns globally, with a number of nations now banning the use of GM corn.

According to Vandana, during the 20 long years of commercialisation of genetically engineered crops, only two facets have emerged on a significant scale. The GM crops are showing huge herbicide tolerance and insect resistance.

“In India, Bt cotton, which is sold under the trade name Bollgard, was supposed to check the bollworm. But on the contrary, the bollworm has become resistant to Bt cotton. Therefore now Monsanto is selling Bollgard II, which is laden with two additional toxic genes,” affirms Vandana sarcastically.

According to a report by 20 Indian, South-east Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups representing millions of people, genetic engineering has failed to increase the yield of any food crop, but has greatly increased the use of chemicals and the mushrooming of ‘superweeds.’

As expected, it was Vandana who co-ordinated this path-breaking report. Control of GM or genetically modified crops, in the hands of few corporate, has also lead to negative economic repercussions on farmers. In India, monopoly over cotton has caused mass suicides among farmers.

“The 1965-66 drought was used to push the Green Revolution, which has increased vulnerability to drought; the 2009 drought was similarly being used to push the second Green Revolution with GMO seeds and patents on seeds,” maintains Vandana in her book.

The fact remains that Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta, the three largest GM seed companies on this planet, together accounts for approximately 70 percent of global seed sales. This enables them to own and sell GM seeds through channels of patents and intellectual property rights and thereby to charge farmers more. The study unequivocally accuses Monsanto of having control over 95 percent of the Indian cotton seed market and of hugely escalating the cotton prices.

“Monopoly over the cotton seed market and the introduction of genetically engineered Bt cotton has led to an epidemic of farmers’ suicides in the country,” Vandana explains. She believes that the genetic engineering model of agriculture undermines farmers who are trying ecologically sustainable agriculture, and states that, “There is no room for co-existence between GM and conventional crops.”

shiva 7Towards Seed Sovereignty

She expresses deep concern over the fact that the control of seed and food is being transferred from the hands of farmers and communities into the clutches of a handful of corporate giants, and continually translates her concern into proactive and tangible actions, addressed to the welfare of the farmers.

Guided by Vandana’s empowering, intellectual and uncompromising vision, Navdanya has not only facilitated in setting up community seed banks across the country, but has also trained over 500,000 farmers across the country in seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture, and helped set up the largest direct marketing, fair trade organic food network in the country.

She likes the fact that despite the cartel of pesticide producers, who work in connivance with the government, India still has myriad drought-resistant crops, some of which, according to her book, “are conserved in, and distributed from, Navdanya’s community seed banks which farmers used in the drought year of 2009.”

Since 1991, Navdanya has mobilised farmers through the Bija Satyagraha Movement, to keep the seed in the farmer’s hands, and to not cooperate with IPR laws that endeavour to make seed a corporate monopoly, and seed saving and seed sharing a crime. Bija Satyagraha is a grass-roots campaign on patent issues; an assertion to people’s rights to biodiversity. It thrives on a determination of not to co-operate with faulty IPR systems.

The Champion Campaigner

Vandana’s mission with Navdanya and RFTSE is not limited to its intellectual and economic dimensions. Her sagacious scholarship is amply complemented by her flaming activism, that is highlighted by several campaigns. Navdanya has led the national and international movement for biosafety and against the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture.

During the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial in 2005, Navdanya joined hands with 740 other organisations in presenting their opposition to the WTO’s attempt to undermine the right of individual countries, and also to take appropriate steps to protect their farmland, environment and consumers from the risks posed by GM foods and crops.

“Through Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), we have also filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court in 1999, against the US seed giant Monsanto and Indian authorities for the illegal and unauthorised introduction of GMOs in India through field trials of these crops, while bypassing and violating environmental laws, and without involving and informing the local authorities and the local public,” states Vandana.

Vandana’s campaign against biopiracy is world renowned. RFSTE/ Navdanya began its potent campaign against biopiracy with the famous neem campaign in 1994. The organisation managed to mobilise 1,00,000 signatures against neem patents and filed a legal opposition against the USDA and WR Grace patent on the fungicidal properties of neem (no. 436257 B1) in the European Patent Office (EPO), in Munich, Germany.

Along with RFSTE, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) of Germany and Magda Alvoet, former Green Member of the European Parliament were party to the challenge. The patent on neem was revoked in May 2000 and it was reconfirmed on 8th March 2005, when the EPO revoked, in entirety, the controversial patent.

In 1998, Navdanya started a campaign against Basmati biopiracy of a US company named RiceTec. On 14th Aug 2001, just a day before our 55th independence day, Vandana-led Navdanya notched another triumph over biopiracy and patent on life, when the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) revoked a large section of the patent on Indian Basmati rice by the US corporation RiceTec Inc.

Vandana led Navdanya to the next decisive victory against biopiracy in October 2004, when the European Patent Office in Munich revoked Monsanto’s patent on the Indian variety of wheat ‘Nap Hal.’ This was the third consecutive victory on the IPR front for Vandana, Navdanya and RFTSE, which helped Vandana emerge as the symbol of hope and courage for the marginalised and downtrodden, in the agricultural sector across the globe.

“Through the citizens’ actions, we have won three biopiracy battles and have thus contributed to the defense of farmers’ rights, indigenous knowledge and biodiversity,” claims Vandana modestly. It is a modest claim indeed, for it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Navdanya has been one of the major forces that has been instrumental in sparking a global movement for the defense of the intellectual property rights of communities.

Due to the efforts of empowered minds like Vandana, organic farming and organic food are again gaining popularity in the Indian socio-cultural milieu. Though the popularity of organic food is still limited to the upper spectrum of Indian society, the day does not seem to be far when her genius and activism will make organic food a part of ordinary lifestyles too.

However, government subsidies towards organic agriculture are the need of the hour, which can make organic food reach common people with more affordable prices. Eventually, increased intake of organic food can not only lead to better health and well-being of the society, but can in the long-run uplift the financial condition of many marginal organic farmers (who become organic farmers by default, and not choice, as they cannot purchase artificial pesticides and fertilsers) in the country.

Her Other Voices

However, the indomitable humanism of Vandana is not only confined to the organic food movement. She is equally critical of the lopsided economic growth of India, and of the mindless and insensitive globalisation that is often supported by the government and the mainstream media in the country.

She debunks the popular myth that growth translates into prosperity for the majority. “While the Indian economy has grown, the majority of Indians have grown poorer, because, as a result of globalisation, they have lost their land and livelihoods,” affirms the thought leader in her book titled ‘Why Is Every 4th Indian Hungry?’ which has Kunwar Jalees as the co-author.

According to her, “Economic growth in India has gone hand in hand with growth in hunger. India is perceived as a potential economic power, but its impressive growth is based on large-scale take over of the land of tribals and peasants and massive destruction of livelihoods of millions engaged in agriculture, textiles and small scale industries. Poverty has increased, as the basic securities for the poor have been crushed by the forces of globalisation.”

For her ecology and feminism are inseparable. Diverse Women for Diversity is the gender programme of Navdanya which works at various levels, that is, at the local, national and global level. It was founded as a global campaign of women on biodiversity, cultural diversity and food security by Dr. Jean Grossholtz and Beth Burrows from the US, Dr. Christine von Weizsacker, Germany, and Dr. Vandana Shiva, India.

Diverse Women for Diversity brings women’s voices from the local and grassroots level to global fora and international negotiations. Its focus is biodiversity, food and water. It seeks to strengthen women’s grassroots movements and provide women with a common international platform.

Author of many acclaimed books, Vandana has won scores of prestigious awards and recognitions during her mission towards a better, healthier world. In 1993, Vandana won the Right Livelihood Award also known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. In 2010, she was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for her commitment to social justice.

However, like all genuine champions, she doesn’t believe in resting on her laurels. Neither does she let herself get bogged down by her international fame. As I was moving on, after a two-hour long invigorating session with one of the greatest minds of our times, I couldn’t help but be impressed by her unassuming persona.

Despite achieving a cult status she never did once let me feel my utter ordinariness, and patiently explained the concepts to my largely unreflective mind. I am sure the passion for a better world in her voice, and the twinkling of uncompromising intellect in her eyes would help us to guide towards a better, healthier and a more nurturing world in the years to come.


“Shiva … has devoted her life to fighting for the rights of the ordinary people of India … her fierce intellect and her disarmingly friendly, accessible manner have made her a valuable advocate for people all over the developing world.”—Ms. Magazine.

“One of the world’s most prominent radical scientists.” —The Guardian.

“All of us who care about Planet Earth must be grateful to Vandana Shiva. Her voice is powerful, and she is not afraid to tackle those corporate giants that are polluting, degrading and ultimately destroying the natural world.” — Jane Goodall, the UN Messenger of Peace.

“Shiva is a burst of creative energy, an intellectual power.” — The Progressive.


Yoga For Curing Hypertension

Most women believe that they are likely to suffer from breast cancer, but did you know that heart disease claims the lives of 6 times as many women world over as breast cancer?!

Hypertension or high blood pressure affects almost 35% of all Indian adults and almost 60% of those over the age of 60.

The prevalence of this disease can be attributed the modern lifestyle of excess: smoking, excess alcohol, too much cholesterol and fats in our foods, too much salt, too much stress and of course excess body weight.

If you add the fact that most Indians don’t exercise, you can see why most Indians are actually living on the edge of a steep fall.

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood Pressure refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries which changes every time your heart pumps blood. Hypertension happens when the pressure in your body becomes so high that it starts interfering with the healthy functioning of your body because it takes more force to pump blood through your body.

When the blood pressure rises above normal, the blood’s normal pulsating movement is replaced by a pounding. Remember that even a slight increase in blood pressure can be significant when you take into account the fact that the heart beats well over one hundred thousand times a day.

This continuous battering is very hard on the walls of the blood vessels and weakens them over a period of time. High pressure can also cause damage to various internal organs creating problems like kidney failure and brain stroke over a period of time. Heart failure can also happen when the heart muscle eventually loses its ability to pump effectively.

Taking medication does not address the root causes of high BP. Doctors and cardio specialists always advise lifestyle changes first and foremost especially for people whose blood pressure is only slightly above normal.

The Yoga Advantage

A number of studies by researchers and scientists have established the benefits of Yoga for treating and curing high BP. An old classic study in the late 1960’s (K. K. Datey et al. “Shavasan: A Yogic Exercise in the Management of Hypertension.” Angiology 20, no. 6 (1969): 325-333.) had proved that the practice of just one pose – Shavasana (Corpse Pose) reduced blood pressure by a large margin with regular practice of just 1 week.

In another study, (R. Murugesan, N. Govindarajulu, and T. K. Bera. “Effect of Selected Yogic Practices on the Management of Hypertension.” Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 44, no. 2 (2000): 207-210.) several heart patients were given Yoga Therapy and after 6 months, all showed a significant decrease in blood pressure and most of them were able to start decreasing their dosage of hypertension pills.


In another study done in the year 2000, half the participants of a research group practised yoga and the other half received drug treatments. After 11 weeks of monitoring, the researchers concluded that the practice of Yoga was equally as effective as the medication in terms of controlling hypertension.

Several other studies done around the world have proved that stress reduction and better heart health can be achieved through behavioural procedures such as Yoga, Biofeedback, Meditation and Psychotherapy chief among them being Yoga.

What about Cardio or Running?

Adding a routine of Yoga to your daily or weekly schedule can have tremendous positive effects on your heart’s health. Light to moderate aerobic activity and workouts at the gym are also recommended for those suffering from high blood pressure.

But it is important to note the differences in how Yoga and aerobic activity affects your heart. Workouts that consist of jogging, running and gym training bring more blood flow to the heart and at the same time raising your heart rate, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen consumption.

Of course, exercises such as these can be very beneficial for the heart, lungs, muscles and blood vessels. If you exercise vigorously, the oxygen that your body demands can often be greater than your body’s ability to supply oxygen to your muscles leading to a buildup of lactic acid in your muscles.

Contrast that to the practice of Yogasanas and Pranayama that are gentle aerobic exercises that do not exceed your body’s demand for oxygen. At the end of a Yoga session, whether you are practising in group or practising yoga privately under a personal yoga trainer, one feels refreshed apart from a calm and relaxed mind which is usually not the case after an hour of workout in a Crossfit or a spinning session.


Yoga Tips To Treat Hypertension

• Add Physical Activity to your Daily Life

• Decrease salt in your diet.

• Eat a high fibre diet. Include oat bran and whole grains such as brown rice, millet and buckwheat.

• Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

• Keep your fat intake in moderation if you have high cholesterol levels.

• Avoid fatty red meat.

• Use fat-free dairy products.

• Drink alcohol and coffee in moderation.

• Avoid Pollution and second-hand cigarette smoke.

• Get plenty of sleep.

• Start managing your stress.

• Get involved with people by joining clubs, a health club or visit religious gatherings aligned with your faith.

• Volunteer to work for charitable trusts and organisations.

Practice Yoga!

About the author:

Tania Verma is the co-founder of Wellintra Fitness and an avid Yoga and Martial Arts Fitness Trainer and Practitioner.

Yoga For Curing Hypertension

What To Expect At Your First Gynecologist Exam

What To Expect At Your First Gynaecologist Exam

Going to a gynaecologist for the first time may make you feel nervous, or anxious. However, your first appointment can be a very important step for transitioning into adulthood, and knowing what to expect beforehand makes the process very easy and stress-free.

Here are some basic things you should know before seeing a gynaecologist.

Doctors Specifically for Women’s Health

Gynaecologists are specifically there to care for the female reproductive system, as well as women’s health in general. They are also trained in obstetrics- pregnancy, and childbirth – but their overall focus is on your health and reproductive system.

You may have your first appointment with an OB/GYN when you are around 13-15 but can also wait until you are sexually active, or have a specific problem you need to be treated.

At Your First Check-Up

At your first check-up, most of the appointment will be spent answering questions that your doctor has about your sexual health, family history, and etc. It’s important to be completely honest in your answers so that the doctor can see to all of your health needs.

Before your appointment, make sure to choose a doctor that you think you’ll be comfortable with. Some women prefer a female doctor, but some are satisfied with either gender.

You can also look up the names of doctors to check their credentials and references.  And if you don’t feel as comfortable at the end of your first appointment as you’d like to, it is perfectly acceptable to switch doctors for the next time.

Plan Your Visit Accordingly

When scheduling the appointment, make sure you pick a day that you won’t be on your period. Also, have lots of questions ready for the doctor.

Get as much information as you can out of your first visit, and don’t leave any of your questions unasked – the doctor is there to help you. Before you arrive at the appointment, it’s also important to know exactly what kind of examination you’re going to have.

The Main Four

There are around four main types of gynaecologist exams –

  • A general physical check-up
  • A breast examination
  • A Pap smear
  • A pelvic examination.

You may have one, or all of these exams on your first visit, and you may want to know beforehand which ones will occur.

In a breast exam, the doctor will check your breasts for lumps or abnormalities, usually with their fingers. In a Pap smear, cells from your cervix are scraped off by a special brush and are then sent to the lab to check for any issues.

Finally, in a pelvic examination, you will be asked to lie on the table and place your feet in stirrups, while the doctor examines your vagina, cervix, womb, and ovaries. You will likely only have this exam if you are sexually active, or are experiencing symptoms of any related medical problems.

Routine or Annual Check-ups

After your first appointment, it’s important to have routine check-ups to ensure you are in your best sexual and reproductive health. Most gynaecologists recommend annual check-ups, and these usually involve typical exams, as well as counselling and advice.

A gynaecologist doctor is there to help you be as happy and healthy as you can be, so don’t be nervous about your first appointment. This is a crucially important step in the direction of sexual and reproductive health.

Leslie Perez enjoys writing about beauty and health. She is dedicated to living a life that is full of happiness that comes from living healthfully. Aside from writing about makeup routines and healthful eating- she enjoys writing about exercise, especially for pregnant woman.

What To Expect At Your First Gynecologist Exam

Hillary Clinton: Inspirational Leader And Astute Politician

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton or simply Hillary Clinton, is one of the most well-known women of our 21st century. She rose to prominence in 1993, when she became First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS), driving her husband, Bill Clinton through two terms as President.

Hillary is the firstborn child of Hugh Rodham, affluent and successful fabric store owner, and Dorothy Emma Howell. Hugh was a staunch Republican from Pennsylvania while Dorothy, a closet Democrat, had left her own dysfunctional home at the young age of 14, and worked as a nanny in her early years.

Hillary was born on October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois, her other two siblings being Hugh E. Rodham, Jr. (born 1950) and Anthony Rodham (born 1954). Hilary says that her parents inculcated in her the importance of hard work, self-reliance, service to others, and a love of God and country.

As a young woman, Hillary often worked as a babysitter, both after school and during her vacation. She often took care of children of migrant Mexicans who came to Chicago for itinerant work. Hillary had also applied to NASA and was shocked when she learnt that girls weren’t accepted for the astronaut program.

Hillary then went on to attend Wellesley College, where she actively took part in student politics. She was elected as senior class president before she graduated in 1969. Hilary then went on to attend Yale Law School.

While in law school, Hillary met and fell in love with her future husband, Bill Clinton. In the spring of 1971, Hillary introduced herself to Bill Clinton, whom she had seen around the Yale campus. They shared a common interest in social justice and politics, and began, what would become, a lifelong relationship.

Hillary graduated from Yale in 1973, after which she enrolled at the Yale Child Study Center and completed one year of post-graduate study. Here she was involved in new research on early childhood brain development.

She was also actively engaged at the New Haven Hospital, where she took on cases of child abuse and the city Legal Services, providing free legal services to the poor. Once she graduated from law school, Hilary served as staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1974, when Bill returned to Arkansas to pursue his political career, Hillary decided to move to Washington to work as a member of the impeachment inquiry staff advising the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate investigation.

However, unfortunately, with President Richard Nixon’s resignation later that year, Hillary’s job too, came to an end. At this juncture, Hillary made a life-defining decision to move to Fayetteville, Arkansas to be with Bill. It was here that they both taught at the University of Arkansas.

Bill and Hillary got married in 1975, in a small ceremony at their home. Just before Bill proposed to her, he had secretly purchased a small house in Fayetteville that Hillary had once remarked that she liked. Once Hillary accepted his proposal, Bill revealed to her that they owned the house. They lived here briefly, before relocating to the state capital of Little Rock, Arkansas, from which he conducted his first campaign, for U.S. Congress.

In 1979, Bill became governor of Arkansas, and in February of 1980, Hillary gave birth to their daughter Chelsea. In 1983 she was recognized as Arkansas Woman of the Year, and Arkansas Young Mother of the Year in 1984; in 1988 and ’91 she earned a spot on the National Law Journal’s list of the 100 most influential lawyers in America.

In 1993, the couple moved back to Washington when Bill was elected America’s 42nd president. Hillary was the first FLOTUS to have a postgraduate degree, her own professional career, and her own office in the West Wing of the White House. And she was the first since Eleanor Roosevelt to take on a prominent role in policy-making.

One year into marriage, Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. A few years later, President Jimmy Carter invited her to join the board of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978. She holds the honor of being listed on the “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” not once but twice.


As First Lady, Hillary successfully initiated the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997. This was a federal effort that provided state support for those children whose parents were not able to afford health coverage. She was also instrumental in increasing the research funding for illnesses such as prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institute of Health.

As First Lady, she also gave voice to the illnesses that were affecting veterans of the Gulf War, with the possibility of their suffering the toxic side effects of the chemical “Agent Orange” used in warfare.

But Hillary’s life as FLOTUS was far from simple. The Clintons’ private life was marred by rumors and accusations around Bill’s extramarital affairs, culminating in the scandal that saw Bill Clinton impeached and which threatened to bring down his presidency. Bill had lied to his wife of 23 years, lied under oath to a grand jury, lied on national TV, and lied to his 18-year-old daughter.

Needless to say, the affair completely broke down Hilary. Pastry chef Roland Mesnier recalls doing whatever he could to help Hillary, saying that he often made Hillary’s favorite dessert, mocha cakes, during the height of the scandal.

He says, “Hillary would reportedly call the pastry shop in the late afternoons and say, in a “small, unassuming” voice, ‘Roland, can I have a mocha cake tonight?’”

The months following the affair were nightmarish for everyone. Bill Clinton would become the first sitting President to testify before a grand jury investigating his conduct and admit he’d had inappropriate relations with “that woman.”

The president paid for his indiscretions not just publicly, but at home as well. It is said that for three or four months, Hilary made Bill sleep on a sofa in a private study attached to their bedroom, on the second floor, rather than share the same bed.

But later, Hillary decided to stand by her husband, becoming one of his strongest supporters. In 1992, she defended him and their marriage in a notable and historic 60 Minutes interview, reaffirming her commitment to her marriage.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a swearing in ceremony to recreate her swearing in as Secretary of State at the State Department, Monday, February 2, 2009. Former President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton's mother, Dorothy Rodham were present for the ceremony. Original Filename: clinton202_007.JPG

Hillary decided to continue to stay with Bill and committed herself to her own political career, as well as Bill’s. Although she was criticized for not leaving her straying husband, Hillary was determined to making it work.

These famous Hillary Clinton quotes illustrate her mindset:

Forgiveness is a way of opening up the doors again and moving forward, whether it’s a personal life or a national life. ~ Hillary Clinton

In the Bible it says they asked Jesus how many times you should forgive, and he said 70 times 7. Well, I want you all to know that I’m keeping a chart. ~ Hillary Clinton

You don’t walk away if you love someone. You help the person. ~ Hillary Clinton

As per a survey in 1996 by non-partisan fact tank Pew Research Centre, the First Lady was often described as “strong, dishonest, intelligent’ to “strong, intelligent, brave, loyal and good” two years later after Bill’s confession, according to Hillary’s Choice.

By the time Bill was acquitted in 1999, Hillary was already making plans for her next phase, for the first time focusing on her own political career. After her husband’s service, Hilary followed her own political path and went on become the U.S. Senator of New York where she served two terms from 2001 to 2009.

In 2007, she announced her intentions of running for president for the 2008 presidential election. After losing the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, she was appointed Secretary of State where she served the position from 2009 to the beginning of 2013.

In her recent memoir, Hard Choices, she offers an inside account of the crises, choices, and challenges she faced during her four years as America’s 67th Secretary of State, and how those experiences drive her view of the future.

Hillary Clinton is currently in the running for the 2016 Presidential election. In this endeavor, we wish her all the very best.

You can follow Hillary Clinton on Twitter at @HillaryClinton

Image source: Wikipedia and HillaryUnleashed