THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Her strength with numbers and analysis helped late SS Nadkarni (then IDBI Chairman) personally select her as the only woman in a team of five people who established National Stock Exchange (NSE) in 1992. After 23 years of undivided attention and hard work, she took over at the corner room of the exchange she nurtured initially, becoming the first woman to head the top bourse in India.
In the beginning, people were really skeptical about the team, as they thought the core team is chasing a dream that would never become a reality. On the other hand, Ramkrishna and four other technocrats took this as an opportunity to experiment without having the burden of expectations on their head. This free-minded yet focused team gave India its leading stock exchange.
The serious struggle came in the year 1992 itself when stock markets witnessed a bruising scandal by Harshad Mehta, leaving behind dicey and frightened traders.
However, the team moved on resolutely. Chitra Ramkrishna played a key role in shaping NSE to have emerged as world’s largest bourse in equity segment with the maximum number of trade in September, 2014. The success of the exchange can be gauged from the fact that the daily average turnover for equities has increased from 17 crore from 135 companies in 1995 to 12,179 crore from 1,672 companies in 2015; NSE is an inspiring case study for many.
Chitra strongly believes that more ordinary people should be able to prosper and draw benefit out of the stock market boom. With a vision to build the best stock market possible, she has a long way to go!
Fan Bingbing’s amiable beauty and classy persona have maintained her reputation as a leading Chinese actress for more than a decade. Currently working as a producer, Fan Bingbing has built her career with the likes of the mega-hit TV series, My Fair Princess.
Her smash hit movie Cell Phone, which was the highest-grossing Chinese film in 2003, has made her a familiar face across the region. She has featured in more than 30 films, and carefully picks assorted roles in a variety of genres, focusing on unconventional and challenging roles. In no time, she became a regular at the world’s leading film festivals representing all that is good about the modern Chinese movie world.
In 2005, she released her first studio album Just Begun, which received a huge response. Her entrepreneurial endeavors saw her take the role of the founder of Fan Bingbing Studio in 2007. She went on producing her TV show, The Empress of China, which is supposed to be the most expensive Chinese series in history. The observers just cannot ignore her alluring appeal and natural beauty on screen.
WOMAN ON A MISSION
Mira Nair made headlines in the film industry with the release of her movie Monsoon Wedding. It was a low-budget movie shot in India, inspired by Indian middle-class weddings. This movie not only fetched her $30 million, but also made Mira Nair a household name.
Monsoon Wedding won the Golden Lion award in 2001 at the Venice Film Festival, and thrust the Indian-origin director to limelight. A pioneer in her field, she is one of the few well-researched directors left in the industry. She starts working on ideas only when she is able to connect with them.
Mira Nair is a passion-driven director who not only excels in her profession, but also makes sure that she is doing her part towards the society. Her first feature film Salaam Bombay was based on kids struggling to survive on the streets of Mumbai; she picked up non-actors from the slums of Mumbai and polished them to suit the screen. After the movie, she founded the “Salaam Baalak Trust” to provide a sensitive and caring environment to working street children in Delhi.
This big-eyed woman is rising high in her starry career.
JEWEL OF ARABIA
She was born in a country where women’s rights are still in an appalling state, and women are not permitted to drive or leave the country without their husband’s consent. But Lubna Olayan has braved all odds to become one of the most influential business women of the Middle East.
She heads one of the Saudi Arabia’s biggest firms, the Olayan Financing Company. The group operates more than 40 companies across the region and is one of the biggest investors in local stock markets that cater to the Saudi Arabia’s economy in sectors like oilfield services, steel and fast food.
A bachelor from Cornell University, Olayan dons many hats. She is the first woman to be elected as a board member in the Saudi Hollandi Bank, and made history by being the first Saudi woman to speak at a major Saudi conference. She is also a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum and is on the board of trustees of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
Although Olayan has gained much popularity for her business acumen, social causes remain close to her heart. She believes that grassroots organisations have the energy to bring about change in the society and they can address key social issues and taboos in a manner that no other group can. Olayan also supports the advancement of Saudi women in business, for which she has set up the Olayan National Women’s Action for Recruitment and Development.
She is one of the few personalities in Saudi Arabia, who have encouraged the women to come out of the oblivion. Her contribution to her society makes her the real gem of the Arab world.
THE POSTER GIRL OF TENNIS
Young confident, beautiful and famous – Sania Mirza is a star in every sense! She is one of those few tennis idols who can give the top Bollywood actresses a run for their money. The lady is a perfect embodiment of brain and beauty. She is the first Indian to become No. 1 in women’s doubles category in the sports of tennis, has won several tournaments before her retirement from singles in 2013, and is one of the highest-paid sportspersons in India.
At a tender age of six, Mirza already exhibited an excellent grip on the tennis racket, and when she was a month shy of 16, went on to create history by bagging her first international accolade, a mixed doubles bronze, along with Leander Paes at the Asian Games in Busan, 2000. She is the first Indian woman to win WTA doubles and singles titles (the AP Tourism Hyderabad Open in 2004 and 2005 respectively), several Grand Slams, climb to the top 50 in singles, and earn more than $1 million.
Long a trailblazer, Mirza’s achievements look all the more exemplary in the Indian context where cricket is the most worshipped sport.
In just over a decade, Mirza has become a sensation in the history of tennis. She is indeed one of the best things that happened to India!
THE TELECOM QUEEN
As the Chairperson of the telecom giant Huawei since 1999, Sun Yafang has got her name registered in the list of the most powerful women executives. But she relatively had a humble beginning when she joined Xin Fei TV Manufactory as a technician in 1982. She meticulously went on scripting success stories one after another. Later, she moved on to Huawei in 1989 and became the Chairwoman of the Corporation in 1999.
Huawei is one of the fast-growing tech companies, has made people take notice by outfitting phone and data networks worldwide, and in a very less time has established itself as a reckoned name in the mobile industry.
The firm has made the most of a cheap labour force, state-sponsored finance packages, and steadfast commitment to R&D.
Reclusive in the past and media shy, she has kept a very low profile, these days Yafang is coming forward to speak to people and reveal much about her plans and strategies.
MOUTHPIECE OF WOMEN’S ISSUES
The First Lady of Afghanistan and a women’s rights activist, Rula Ghani continues to be the mouthpiece of women’s rights across Afghanistan. Being the wife of Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, she utilizes the opportunity and works for women’s causes, and has become the country’s first presidential spouse in decades to be seen and heard in public.
Her views on violence against women, rule of law and power of religion have many a time landed her into serious trouble. Often attacked by her husband’s political enemies of being a non-Muslim, she continues her work to facilitate and celebrate womanhood in Afghanistan.
Rula Ghani strongly believes that Afghanistan is going through a profound change. She believes that she has answered the need of a public counselor close to the heart of the government by being accessible – unlike the previous First Ladies of Afghanistan – to common women and men. She feels her purpose accomplished when she witnesses hundreds of women stepping in the wood-paneled meeting room seeking advice on diverse issues, and then leaving composed.
This highly educated, eloquent and evidently passionate lady is equally careful to state her opinion in public. Rula Ghani really appreciates the socially knitted structure in Afghanistan despite 25 years of civil war, thus making her believe in traditional values even more.
As the first woman President of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Naina Lal Kidwai has one of the key roles to play in the Private Banking Segment. She is the first woman president of FICCI. Naina has built a reputation as one of the finest investment bankers of the country. Since she took the position as a General Manager at HSBC India, the bank has shown a high growth prospect.
Despite being born in a family of high achievers, Naina Lal Kidwai had to struggle with the gender bias at several stages. Nevertheless, the woman boss is both humble and discreet in her approach. She was the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School, though she finds it a sad social comment as Indian men have been going there for at least 25 years and the dissimilarity between the genders upsets her.
She began her career in the year 1982, when she joined the ANZ Grindlays Bank, which is now known as the Standard Chartered Bank. She took a couple of banking assignments before moving to Morgan Stanley’s India operation. As the group General Manager and country head of HSBC India, Kidwai has been instrumental in charting the growth path of HSBC in India for the past 10 years.
Her notable achievements include receiving Padma Shri award in 2007 for her contributions in the areas of trade and industry. She believes that one must concentrate on achieving and resetting targets for oneself; awards are picked along the way.
Under pressure from International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greece and other European Union countries trying to resolve Greece’s debt crisis agreed in Brussels on July 13 on new austerity measures to solve the staring problem. The Greek debt crisis started in late 2009 when Greek announced that its budget deficit would be 12.9 per cent of GDP, more than four times the EU’s three per cent limit. The crisis had started much earlier in 2001 as Greece adopted the Euro as its currency. Similar to other Eurozone countries, Greece benefited as interest rates became lower, and investment capital and loans started flowing in. However, the Greek government misreported the government debt levels and deficits, and when finally it admitted the lie, other Eurozone countries and International Monetary Fund tried in vain to bail it out. On June 30, Greece failed to repay its loan to IMF (the first developed country to fail). Things may turn for better after Greece Parliament’s passing a second batch of crucial bailout reforms on July 22.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sealed several deals during his last visit to Bangladesh. In a two-day visit, India & Bangladesh signed 22 pacts to deepen cooperation besides endorsing the historic Land Boundary Agreement or LBA. The Indian Parliament ratified the agreement after 41 years. This was Modi’s one of the biggest achievement, as the agreement was signed in 1974 and Bangladesh had endorsed it the same year, but India ratified in 2015. However, once it happened, the visit to Bangladesh was immediately planned by Modi. Some of the most important pacts included an agreement on coastal shipping, a MoU on setting up of Indian Economic Zones and allowing Life Insurance Corporation to operate in the country. With a view to boosting connectivity and enhance people-to-people contact, two bus services Kolkata- Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati were flagged jointly by PM Modi and Bangladesh PM Hasina. The tour ended with an important event where Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to be given the Award of Bangladesh Liberation War Honour, which was received by Narendra Modi, on his behalf.