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November 30, -0001

Indian Women have taken on different roles and excelled in many fields. The achievements of such women are made all the more precious by the fact that in most cases, success has been achieved with the strength of courage, initiative and determination. The success stories of Indian powerhouse women like Naina Lal Kidwai, Ela Bhatt, Aishwarya Rai and Indra K. Nooyi gives an insight into the unparalleled capabilities of these extraordinary women.

Naina Lal Kidwai, a renowned Banking Guru, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of HSBC Securities & Capital Markets is unarguably the highest-paid women executive in India and one of the country's foremost businesswomen. The Fortune magazine in its list of the world's top 50 corporate women has picked her in 2003 for her outstanding achievement in the corporate arena.

Ranked 47th in the list, Kidwai has been involved in several mega-deals and is well known for her role in some of the big ticket financial transactions including Tata group's acquisition of VSNL and the IPO of automobile giant Maruti Udyog. Today, she is recognized as one of the most powerful investment bankers in the country. Her success as a banker has given her a strong foothold in a male-dominated sector of Investment Banking.

Naina Lal Kidwai is arguably a creator of trends. When she shows interest in a company, people sit up and take notice. Her ability to learn from her experience and use that knowledge has seen her scale the corporate ladder rapidly. Her success has been credited to her skills at networking with the bureaucracy and the corporate world. Her instinct for spotting a deal combined with her ability to predict market trends have contributed to her meteoric success in the corporate world. In 1994, when she joined Morgan Stanley, IT was not the rage. It was only an emerging investment area. Naina Lal Kidwai spotted the opportunity and cashed in for her clients.

In 1982, she graduated from Harvard Business School and was the first Indian woman on their rolls. Her qualifications and experience have underlined her success, and she readily admits, that gender has rarely been a barrier to her success. In 1999, when Morgan Stanley was in trouble with its mutual funds, Kidwai took it by the scruff of its neck and implemented a strategic business plan that was focused on IT investments. Since then, she has been involved with helping Indian IT giants raise capital.

Ela Bhatt, recipient of the prestigious "The Right Livelihood Award," is a gentle revolutionary and social activist. A former lawyer and social worker from a well-to-do family, she launched the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) in 1972. As chief of the women's section of the Textile Labour Association in Ahmedabad, she had witnessed the crappy conditions confronting women in the garment industry and resolved to organize self-employed women to help them develop a bit of collective clout. It was to address this situation that in 1972, Bhatt set up SEWA. Within three years SEWA had 7,000 members and was registered as a trade union with the government. By December 1995, its members numbered 218,700, making it the largest single union in India.

Along with negotiating power, SEWA (which means "service" in Indian) offers programs for health and maternity benefits. One of the group's biggest coups was the 1974 creation of its own bank, where women can start a savings account with just a few rupees, or take out a small loan to grow their enterprise. Through their organization and solidarity, SEWA members have acquired a new negotiating power with their employers. They have established health, death and maternity benefit schemes to give them security. They have set up 71 cooperatives of various trade groups to share skills and expertise, to develop new tools, designs and techniques and to engage in bulk each. buying and joint marketing. The cooperatives have an average of over 1,000 members.

Bhatt has also taken the struggle for justice and recognition for self-employed women into the national and international areas. SEWA is affiliated to the International Union of Food and Tobacco Workers and to the International Federation of Plantation, Agricultural and Allied Workers. The Association is also campaigning for a convention on Home-based Workers' Recognition and Protection for the International Labour Office (ILO).

Bhatt herself was nominated by the President of India to be a member of the Indian parliament (Rajya sabha) from 1986 to 1989. She was a member of the Planning Commission of India (1989-91) and has been chairperson and a founder member of Women's World Banking since 1980.

Aishwarya Rai, undoubtedly one of the world's most beautiful women is the pride of the Hindi film industry better known as Bollywood whose presence has given a new lease of life to the the world's largest motion picture industry. Her immense talent got her public recognition for the first time in the year 1994 when she was adjudged Miss India and Miss World simultaneously and catapulted her to the success ladder. She is a multi-faceted persona blessed with a bundle of talent. She has been showered with various awards for her acting prowess, versatility and powerhouse performance. In one of her quote,"I like to break myths and people's pre-conceived ideas. My characters have always stood for something, have always had an opinion, although they've never really rebelled," she expressed her desire to remove the notions of people about Indian actress.

She is the first Indian film personality to get the honour of becoming a member of the jury in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in the year 2003. She was on the cover of the Time magazine. Besides an actress, she is also a social worker in the true sense. She has made immense contribution to the eye donation and polio vaccine campaign. Her attractive persona has helped in the upliftment of the image of Indian actress in the international arena to a great extent.

Indra K. Nooyi, the president and chief financial officer of PepsiCo is unarguably the most powerful woman of Indian-origin in business and has been ranked fourth in the latest survey carried by the American business magazine.

She made her way into the Power 50 of Fortune magazine and stood at number 10 in the sweepstakes in the year 2003, barely months after she was named as the new CFO at the American soft drinks major. And during this short period, Chennai-born Nooyi has already shown her mettle at PepsiCo, something well recognized by Fortune in its profile of Nooyi.

This strong-willed, electric-guitar-playing financial strategist wields huge clout with CEO Steve Reinemund as her business acumen has helped engineer $30 billion worth of deals in the past few years. She is today the second highest paid PepsiCo executive after chairman and CEO Reinemund, who took a pay cheque of $5.5 million in the 2003 fiscal year.

The 47 years old Yale University Masters Degree holder in Public Management and Masters Degree holder in Finance and Marketing from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, Indra K. Nooyi was elected to the Board of Directors of PepsiCo and became President and Chief Financial Officer in May 2001, after serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since 2000. Nooyi served as Senior Vice President Strategic Planning and Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Development from 1994 until 2000. Prior to joining PepsiCo, she was Senior Vice President of Strategy, Planning and Strategic Markets for Asea Brown Boveri. She was also Vice President and Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning at Motorola.

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