Media

ICC LSG National Debate

Shatrughan Sinha in conversation with Malvika Banerjee

Ladies Study Group hosted Shatrughan Sinha on a sultry, sunny afternoon at the beautiful setting of Hyatt Regency. Moderator Malavika Banerjee, described him as "a man wearing many hats... iconic film star, political leader, social crusader, Rajya Sabha member etc", and President Abhilasha Sethia remarked, "you can love him or hate him but you cannot ignore him...!"
Shatrughan Sinha said that in every profession you go through four phases, Upahas (people will make fun of you), Upeksha (people will ignore you), Tiraskar (people will abuse you), and Daman (people will try to stop you by force or power), and when you cross these four stages, you get Samman!
Asked how Shatrughan Sinha became a name in the era of Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand, his tongue in cheek response was that there are two types of actors, the Perspiring, like Raj Kapoor and Dharmendra – who made you “perspire” at the very thought of seeing yourself on the silver screen and the Aspiring type, who made you think if they could be have made it there so could you.
He faced two problems after FTII graduation: one was with his name - he tried with SP Sinha etc, and finally settled with Shatrughan. He even shared hilarious jokes on how people mispronounced his name. His second challenge was how to make his mark? He chose to become different from the rest -- as better than the best was not an option! He finally attained 'stardom', “the majority (vote) being given to him by the public”!
Malavika pointed out how rural settings had become so rare in Hindi movies, and he said references to rural stories are still there but they are “sugar-coated”. He felt well made, balanced films with rural themes could also be commercially successful. One such good movie is Bajirao Mastani!
It was wonderful to listen to him narrate in great details the story of how he met his wife.
Bihar election and consequences on his political life brought serious retrospections from Mr Sinha, and he explained why he joined politics at the peak of his film career. He ended saying “some” people in his party BJP do not want him to succeed or work. He mentioned we are going through a “Leadership Crisis”, and that we need to find good leaders soon. He was clear that he does not want the State CM post but wanted to work at the Centre to be able to do good work all over the country! 
He answered questions from the floor on his fitness funda, whether his daughter Sonakshi would ever shoot ‘item numbers’, his biography, anti-tobacco campaign, being a cabinet minister, all with great humour and honesty. On asked about his greatest regret in life, he mentioned that he terribly regretted standing against Rajesh Khanna in the Mumbai by-elections. Rajesh Khanna stopped all communications with him after that and Mr Sinha never got the chance to apologise and mend relations.
He ended by saying "good, bad and ugly; I am the 'Khamosh'- and this originality is important!"
The afternoon rolled into evening with lots of discussion, photography, book signing and generally a great feeling of a successfully conducted programme.

Juhi Chawla 23 May

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Dev R Nil with vivek rathore

Fashion Deconstructed
“Old is a new beginning. Old is a new life. A caterpillar yesterday – a butterfly tomorrow.’ This is what Vivek Rathore felt when he first came across the old warehouse. According to him, a warehouse’s adaptive reuse is one of the greenest steps that can be taken environmentally, economically and otherwise. The space that it provides is also unparalleled. He highlighted that the store was 1/3rd the cost of a normal RCC construction and yet much more effective than any other store in a swanky mall. Structures like these exist in various pockets all around Kolkata and must be creatively used, he opined. Dev R Nil, four years and many properties later, finally zeroed on the 3,500 sq. ft warehouse for their store which they themselves have very innovatively designed. They wanted to bring a new flavour to the city’s retail ethos. Kolkata’s varied and diverse art and architecture inspired them. This wonderful space in turn motivates them in their designing. They pointed out that people of Kolkata accept modernity in fashion but still keep their traditional values alive which is why each one of the garments here has retained its own individual identity. Fashion for them is a form of liberation – what you would be comfortable with – your thought process – your style – your confidence. As we saw 6 of our members dressed so beautifully in Dev R Nil’s stylish yet elegant clothes, we all took home some innovative and inspiring tips on fashion and also got a new insight into the inter-relation of architecture and fashion. Many of our members came creatively dressed as was requested by our president, Mukul Agarwal . We hope that they in turn have left some tips for the designer duo Dev and Nil.

Dr Advani & shobha Kameneni

Awareness & Wellness
Dr. Advani threw light on the alarming rate at which cancer is growing in our country. He emphasized on the fact that breast cancer is a life style disease and a change in factors like increased physical activity, reduced fat diet, early child bearing- within the age of 25 and mammography after the age of 40 can help in preventing it and in early detection. He also pointed out that 40% of oral, throat and lung cancer is mainly because of tobacco. Dr. Advani enlightened the audience about new treatments like multimodality and biological therapy. He stressed on the importance of palliative medicine and care, relieving pain and on keeping the patients hope alive. Shobana Kamineni spoke on the growing medical awareness of the people and she considers Apollo not as a place for treatment but for wellness. She also added that Apollo is instrumental in reversing brain drain to a great extent. On being asked about the elements of humane and emotions, Ms. Kamineni highlighted on the need of giving time and having conversations with the patients to give them and their family hope and courage. To throw light on the advancement of technology, she said that in future, an ECG would tell us of an approaching possible heart attack 1 to 2 years hence. Both the speakers effectively answered many queries of the audience on cervical cancer vaccination, mammography, predictive gene test, health foods that prevent cancer and effect of stress on cancer. At the end of one and a half hours, the members of the ladies study group felt medically much more enlightened than ever before.

Sreemoye Kundu

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Dr Jamuna Pai &  Dr. Sachin verma

The Ladies Study Group was honoured to host the celebrated Dr.Jamuna Pai from Mumbai accompanied by Kolkata based Dr.Sachin Varma on Monday, 22 June at the grand ITC hotel banquet hall. An elegantly styled auditorium set the mood for an informative and fact filled afternoon where a packed audience was enraptured by the talks of the two experts on the panel ably chaired by our very own committee member Dr.Rupali Basu.
Dr. Sachin Varma gave an overview on skin care an...d the advances made in the field . He explained the importance of each individual understanding their own skin type and how to take care of it visavis food,exercise,hydration and meditation. Interestingly he suggested we also pay heed to "grandma " advice of various home made remedies with kitchen ingredients like curd, basin ,lime etc. He propagated a holistic approach to skincare and detailed some of the modern methods to sort out skin problems.
The beautiful Dr Jamuna Pai focused on smart anti aging and skin care tips. She suggested simple lifestyle changes to create a healthy younger and fresher look . Her theory ..the E theory .. Was fascinating and covered the 5 Es ... Everyday , Exfololiate ,Eat , Exercise, Erase....and each aspect was explained clearly to an audience who copiously took down notes .Her little 'nuska'of a spinach juice and lime shot every morning as the secret of a glowing skin was a tip everyone present will definitely be practicing .
A satiated audience left the banquet hall empowered with very useful knowledge on skin and its care .After all ... Glamour is about feeling good about your skin and being beautiful is being comfortable in your own skin .Practicing what was explained by our panel will help us achieve both

Launch of Book Club

The Ladies Study Group takes great pleasure in setting up their first collaborative effort with the members by launching the LSG Book Club. Due to the amazing response from our members , we have divided our interested members into 3 groups based on their geographical locations namely

1.BEYOND THE BOOK at Alipore
2.THE DANCING WORDS at Ballygunge
3.READ ON at Ballygunge

Our Book Club Meetings will be held on the 1st Thursday of every month and while the venues will differ,the books and the agendas will be common . The venue will be decided by the groups and at the convenience of all the members of each group. The primary objective of the Book Club is of course to share our love for books and use the meetings as an opportunity to initiate and promote interaction between members. However our larger goal is to help drive literacy programmes at orphanages and other schools for the underprivileged with the help of suggestions and initiatives from the members of the group. We also plan to create book banks to distribute books and magazines to orphanages, schools and old age homes. We will look for opportunities to work with ngos and other charity organisations to help take the Club's philanthropic objectives ahead.

Launch of Book Club

The Ladies Study Group takes great pleasure in setting up their first collaborative effort with the members by launching the LSG Book Club. Due to the amazing response from our members , we have divided our interested members into 3 groups based on their geographical locations namely

1.BEYOND THE BOOK at Alipore
2.THE DANCING WORDS at Ballygunge
3.READ ON at Ballygunge

Our Book Club Meetings will be held on the 1st Thursday of every month and while the venues will differ,the books and the agendas will be common . The venue will be decided by the groups and at the convenience of all the members of each group. The primary objective of the Book Club is of course to share our love for books and use the meetings as an opportunity to initiate and promote interaction between members. However our larger goal is to help drive literacy programmes at orphanages and other schools for the underprivileged with the help of suggestions and initiatives from the members of the group. We also plan to create book banks to distribute books and magazines to orphanages, schools and old age homes. We will look for opportunities to work with ngos and other charity organisations to help take the Club's philanthropic objectives ahead.

Synching with Sadhguru

Ladies Study Group is honored & privileged to have hosted Sadhguru, the Founder of Isha Foundation, on 27th May 2016.

Sadhguru, a yogi and profound mystic, spiritual leader and a visionary humanitarian, mesmerized the audience with his understanding of the intricacies & mechanisms of Life.

A Guru is one who dispels darkness. The work of any guru is not to predict your future. Life is to be experienced not by acquiring external wealth but by enriching our inner well being by properly handling our thoughts and emotions. He explains that if one is unhappy even when one is alone that shows one is in bad company i.e. the problem lies in you!

Syncing with Sadhguru incorporates ways of attaining well being through transformation of the self from within. In order to experience this life, one must learn to transform ourselves from within and learn ‘to live & face life as it is’.

Everything that we know through our sense organs is only by comparison, that is, distortion of reality and therefore useful only in a given situation. We have all the necessary resources in today’s world but the only element that's missing is Consciousness. The core of Sadhguru’s teaching is to promote individual growth through meditation. Action for rejuvenation is mainly in rejuvenating the human spirit. Unless you do what is right, right things will not happen to you in this life. Meditation is not an act, it is a consequence.

What you want for yourself must happen your way.

The meeting culminated with meditation and prayer.

An evening of Luxury and Style

Ladies Study Group proudly presented a spectacular evening at ITC sonar Bangla with the two dapper men Raj Mahtani and Manish Malhotra on Thursday 5th May 2016. Raj Mahtani of Satramdas jewellers is Kolkata's Pride while Manish Malhotra is amongst India's classiest fashion designers . The ITC Pala looked elegant and sophisticated and the audience of almost 300 guests were preview to a truly memorable evening . 

The stage had a backdrop of a heritage Indian palace with models sashayed down the ramp wearing beautiful drapes by Manish and mesmerising jewels from Raj leaving the audience craving for more . 

A host of issues were discussed with both the speakers being tongue in cheek through the evening and kept the guests enthralled with their banter amongst peals of laughter . 

Raj revealed that his mantra for life was to wear jewellery for breakfast ,lunch and dinner !!! He described how he took over the family business in 1990s and evolved over the years into a couture jeweller . Manish also shared his story of his journey from a struggling model to one of the country's most influential fashion designers today . He was full of praise for the actress Sridevi who was his first client and is still his favorite. He spoke about the significance of family and revealed that he still lived with his parents at the age of 49.

While the mood for the evening was light hearted it was clear that Manish is a serious and extremely committed individual hungry for growth and keen to give back to society . He discussed the social causes he was attached with which included Shabani Azmi's Mijwan Welfare Society and the projects with the handicraft workers in Kashmir and Varanasi. He spoke of his plans to launch his own production company 'Luminous' with its wide scope to of being a platform to talent in various fields included films,art and fashion . Manish candidly admitted that his lack of education was a big regret hence is exploring options to promote an institute to teach the subject of fashion designing in the country to help young aspirants . The evening ended with Manish promising to bring his couture line to Kolkata soon . 

The ITC had excelled themselves with a beautiful layout of high tea and hors d oeuvres which complimented the evening of true luxury and style at its best .

Holistic & conventional healing in the Digital Age

The Ladies Study Group, under the newly elect President, Ms. Abhilasha Sethia, hosted an event titled, "Holistic & Conventional Healing in the Digital Age." The forum invited speakers such as Ms Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group and Mr Luke Coutinho, Health Coach and Nutritionist.

Ms Reddy stated that women are traditionally seen as primary care givers, and therefore need to be updated with data and trends in the healthcare system. 

Hospitals and other healthcare systems are witnessing demanding and entitled patients, which in her opinion, is a changing trend. Doctors therefore have to empower themselves to adapt to the changing circumstances.

Technology in the medical field is advancing to be as minimally invasive as possible, with genomics expected to play a vital role in the future. Genetic make up is influencing the way the disease is presented today. If genetic predisposition is stratified, patients could be monitored from the beginning and be given preventive treatment. Reddy firmly believes in "integrative medicine" which she believes 

 needs more research and validation by the government. She stated that while allopathy does not have all the answers, the Apollo group firmly believes that Holistic Healthcare has a strong future. She concluded by saying, "Acceptance is important and destiny plays a vital role in deciding one's future."

Like Ms Reddy, Coutinho is also a firm believer in integrated medicine. "Sickness is multi factorial," said Coutinho, who spoke about four pillars of health: physical activity, balanced nutrition, quality of sleep, and lack of stress.

"Prolong life with quality healing and not by quick fixes," said the health coach. Coutinho specified that we should not compromise immunity by consuming pill after pill. He said that for effective weight loss, life style changes work better than fad diets. His view is that there is a geographical connection to the body and therefore, one should consume local and staple food. He endorsed mustard, coconut, groundnut and ghee as mediums of cooking and condemned olive oil as it is toxic to the body. Coutinho recommended coconut oil as the potent drug for curing thyroid. A balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates and good fat are essential for the body. Stress, inadequate sleep, toxins and shortage of vitamin D lead to fat deposits and should therefore be controlled.

Coutinho recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily. He added that one's mind effected 60-70 trillion cells in the body, which in turn builds immunity. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and intellectual characteristics are the five parameters we are born with and we are responsible for managing our own lifestyles.

49th Annual General Meeting

A Warm Note from our New President - Mrs. Abhilasha Sethia -

I would like to begin by acknowledging how honored and privileged I feel to take on the responsibility of leading one of the most prestigious and renowned women’s organisation of Eastern India – the Ladies Study Group in this historic 50th year. Like all Presidents before me, I step into the shoes of the LSG President with a lot of excitement and of course and some anxiousness too. Each President of the past has very efficiently and successfully taken the Organisation further ahead and the Group has slowly evolved with changing times yet retained its own uniqueness too, (standing out among many mushrooming forums of the day). To all LSG members, old and new, my warm greetings! I hope to be able to live up to your expectations by organizing events and inviting speakers who inspire you and also provoke you to think differently. I will also look upon you for your feedback and guidance. Let me begin by introducing my theme for the year: Leading Change: Shaping the Future. Now, more than ever before, it is time for a change. The world has moved on. Technology and the internet have combined to create a world in which potential disruptors can come from anywhere; the internet generations are bringing a new ethos to life and people are becoming ever-more savvy. In order to keep up and thrive we must adapt. If we really want to make a difference we have to change our outlook and that means not simply talking about change but stepping up to shape the future. I’m not alone in this belief. Writing in Forbes recently Greg Satell headlined his article “To Prepare For The Future You Need To Shape It — Or Someone Else Will.” Leaders of today will have  to take a broader view, to become future ready by changing towards what the future will bring.

Praful Patel @ Taj Bengal

31st October 2015, saw an august gathering of leading personalities and our members attend the Annual Awards function of Lsg 2015 with full enthusiasm.

This prestigious Award, was awarded to the most deserving NGO, working with the rehabilitation of sex workers in Kolkata .Hamari Muskaan - was the chosen one for their stellar work .

Committee member, Leena Kejriwal’s documentary on sex workers life was screened .Mrs Shefali Poddar, read the citation and our honoured guest speaker, Mr. Praful Patel gave away the award and cheque .

Guest speaker Mr.Praful Patel, then spoke on the topic of Winds of Change in our country .He spoke about his experiences as a MLA and minister of aviation and heavy industries in the last government. There is a need to plan with a look to the future & though there are so many issues to face, India has developed in aviation telecommunication & other areas, was his thought.

On a lighter note he spoke about his other special interest in Indian football and his personal aspirations in the years ahead .Mrs. Abhilasha Sethia read the vote of thanks and Mrs. Roma Bhagat presented the token of thanks to Mr. Patel .

It was a rewarding and enriching experience for all our members and guests .

Eating My way through the world - Ritu Dalmia

Ladies Study Group had the pleasure of the company of a Diva in the domain of gastronomy and a top restuaranter in India on 12 th of June at the Hyatt Regency: Ritu Dalmia in conversation with a top fashion designer Nil. It was a witty and an interesting journey of sensory appeal as the lights went out and the ladies were served the antipasti in near darkness!

A Marwari girl born in Calcutta Ritu had a streak of rebellion from the start. Eating non vegeterian, imbibing her business sense from her father, she started her first restaurant in her early 20s. Although it failed, she went on to see super success, opening many more fine dining restaurants and the most popular catering service in India. A school trip to Rome was her first connection to her love of Italian food and that is not all about cheese & pizza she stressed! 

When asked how hard it is to be a woman in an industrial kitchen, Ritu said that women nurture at home and similarly a chef's life involves long hours and heavy work . Even though she started her business with no women chefs now her restuarants have 22 women working . 

Delegation training and keeping a strict eye on expenditure are the secrets to a successful restaurant. She is also involved in the petition against Section 377 which deems the gay movement a criminal activity. On a lighter note, as Nil and Ritu made us laugh at their witty repartee, ladies asked questions on molecular cooking, Michelin stars and her new restuarant in Milan!

A demonstration of Gnocchi making followed with many helping hands and laughs.

Hyatt laid out a sumptuous lunch and it was a wonderful afternoon of culinary conversation with two very special personalities.

A lively discussion on Politics as clean or dirty as you make it

Perspective from old (Kapil Sibal - veteran politician) and young (aspiring TMC politician- Mohua Maitra), in conversation with Sarah Jacob of NDTV.

Mr.Kapil Sibal agreed that corruption in politics is a big issue and suggested that it can be reduced if instead of the present system of campaigning, debates are organized between rival contenders.

Mohua Maitra added that it was easy to get access to masses through  Facebook in urban areas but in rural areas it was not possible and debate may not solve the problem.

Both leaders agreed that embracing technology would lessen corruption, but first the system has to be cleansed. At the local level, 'the system wants corruption’, as demand exceeds supply!

Sarah Jacob commented that there is an institutionalized culture of violence in West Bengal.

Mahua mentioned that TMC is a mass based party. One cannot control which individual joins the party as a grass root worker.

Mr Kapil Sibal stated that transformation will come in the country if professionals enter politics. Twelve million youth graduate from universities but find no jobs. He felt education should be skill based.

The Changing Dynamics of The Indian Woman - The Authors Perspective

Speakers: Authors Aruna Chakravarti & Neelima Dalmia Adhar

Date: 6th December, 2016

The Ladies Study Group proudly presented an enchanted, insightful and invigorating session with India’s two prominent women authors, Ms Aruna Chakravarti and Ms.Neelima Dalmia Adhar, who respectively wrote “Jorasanko” and “The Secret Diary Of Kasturba,” which were both read voraciously by the LSG Book Club members.

 

The session commenced with Author, Ms Aruna Chakravarti, in conversation with Ms Sreela Mitra, Lsg member, teacher of Effective communication Skills and Public Speaking, set in an aesthetically beautiful garden of Lsg committee member, Ms Madhulika Kanoria, which created a perfect ambience. The Author described the book ‘Jorasanko’ as a fiction backed with historical facts, a sensitive portrayal of the hopes and fears, triumphs and defeats, experienced by the women in the illustrious Tagore household in Bengal. She unabashedly professed, ”I am gender conscious” which motivated me to write about Bengal’s great women. She reverberated how she collected the facts and put them in a chronological order, filling the gaps with fiction. Her findings depicted Rabindranath Tagore as an evolving character, dictated by his father, as an escapist and a meek personality.

 

Subsequently, the dais was shared by Author Ms Neelima  Dalmia Adhar, President Lsg, Ms Abhilasha Sethia and Vice President, Lsg, Ms Namrata Surekha. “The Secret Diary of Kasturba” is described by the author as a bio-fiction, gripping tale of kasturba, married to Mohandas Gandhi, who was sexually driven, self -righteous and overbearing husband. Gandhi was an intolerant father to his wayward son, driven to debauchery. In her opinion, Kasturba was equally responsible for a free India and set the path of ultimate liberation that every woman seeks. On being quizzed, the author candidly stated that she made Kasturba as her alter ego and is inspired to write about people who have lived their lives out of the ordinary.  She stated, contrary to perception she believes in “his story, your story and the truth.”

 

The session closed with an interaction with the audience, who threw a volley of questions at the authors, and they took them one by one with a sense of candidness and humour.  Neelimaji remarked, “Marriage is an obsolete institution” although she herself is in a very successful marriage. Arunaji cryptically stated, “Ideology is like a sickness” for iconic driven individuals for who family is the victim.

   

The magical soiree was wrapped up by a sumptuous layout of tea in the beautifully landscaped garden, relished by all, including the authors who intermingled with the members.

PINK, KAHAANI & HER Discovering the 'Her'o in Hindi Cinema

Speakers: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Sujoy Ghosh, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tailang

Date: 27th January, 2017

Ladies Study Group and Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet on 27.1.17 were privileged to host Sujoy Ghosh, director of movie 'Kahaani', along with the Team of movie 'Pink,' director Anirudha Roy Chowdhury, scriptwriter, Ritesh Shah and, actress Andrea Tailang. In conversation with them was Malavika Bannerjee, director, Kolkata Literary Meet. Abhilasha Sethia, President, LSG welcomed the guest speakers to the forum.

Malavika quizzed Sujoy the reason why his scripts are changing to "lead women characters from the front?"

Sujoy candidly answered that in his formative years, he had strong women in his household shaping his life. He said, initially, it was difficult selling 'strong woman character' scripts in Bollywood. He knocked on various doors for funding but none of the boxes were ticked for Kahaani. Vidya Balan, his "supermuse' as referred by Malavika, was undeterred by his past movie disasters and showcased her complete faith in the script. In lieu to his film, "Ahalya", he cryptically stated, "the more you talk about my film, more it lives." He was excited about making a "film for the mobile." Both his films, "Ahalya" and "Kahani "stem from '"Mahabharta" as Hindu Mythology has been extremely inspiring to him.

Malavika welcomed the Team "Pink" on the dais, talking about the 2016 she-film, starring Amitabh Bachchan, which became a talking point everywhere. "What I read in the newspapers every morning, watched in the news at night and saw all around me – the deep prejudices against women – is what shaped Pink," said the director. For Roy Chowdhury, the film was a success because it derived its seeds from reality.

Shillong girl Andrea said it was the script that "resonated with me because most women have experienced what we girls went through in the film." She felt proud to be part of the film and wanted to represent the North – East.

Shah said, "Pink is a propaganda film about consent...NO MEANS NO...That we could do a film on consent in a way that wasn't filmi and by taking references from our lives was a huge reason why the film resonated with all of us." He was transparent by stating that the trend of 'women centric films' is on the rise due to a beneficiary monetary factor – the women who are the big movie ticket buyers determine the trend.

Namrata Sureka, vice-president, LSG summed up beautifully, "The experience has created a new realization in us. We salute the 'She'roes spirit which truly exists in every woman."

The guest speakers were happy to freely intermingle with the audience over a sumptuous lay out of tea and refreshments in the garden of Daga Nikunj, graciously shared by Alka Jalan.

An afternoon with Anoothi Vishal - Author of Mrs LC's table

Speakers: Sudha Menon, Gunjan Goela & Manjri Agarwal

Date: 25th January, 2017

Ladies Study Group proudly hosted two eminent speakers Ms. Sudha Menon, an author, columnist, and writing coach and Ms. Gunjan Goela, a philosopher, a chef, and a modern-traditionalist,amidst the serene setting of the plush lawns of the ITC Sonar, Kolkata.

In conversation with the guest speakers was an LSG member, Ms. Manjri Agarwal, a connoisseur, or a "foodprenuer" as she calls herself, running successful restaurants in Kolkata , and owner of the brand 'Hitchki' in Mumbai.

The session commenced with Ms. Manjari reading out an excerpt from Ms Menon's latest published book, "Devi Diva or She-Devil." Manjari quizzed Ms Menon about her motivation to get into the world of writing and attain the right mix of dedication and enthusiasm in her work! Ms Menon was at her candid best at the volley of questions, answering with humorous anecdotes. She stated, 'women are at crossroads of society at this time of life.' Therefore, it is all right to accept ones self and the individual choices one makes. In significance to her choice of the title of the book, she unabashedly said, "one can be a Devi, Diva or bring to surface the She-Devil once in a while." Ms Menon expressed the book that initially started of as a journey of women, later canvassed to a survival guide and towards busting the 'myth of the superwoman'. Her interactions with powerful women led her to reveal their stories to inspire other women in society. She admitted to being a feminist and endorsed all women to have the right to 'life-choices'. She strongly voiced, "Ambition is a bad word for the person looking at you but not for the achieving individual.

Ms. Goela was then welcomed to share the dais with Ms. Manjri , who wanted her to succinctly describe her journey into her intended field of food. She reverberated her childhood memories of her parents experimenting with food and she was taught the finer nuances of food. Her parents encouraged her passion and talent. She was indeed fascinated by the diversity of Indian culture, distinct communal culinary tastes and family recipes, which were passed down from generation to generation. She strongly felt the importance of 'Indian food exposure' in various parts of India, which should be exposed to the younger generation to pass on the Indian legacy. She stated that Ayurveda has chronicled the significance of every spice and ingredient used in Indian cooking. She categorically criticized 'fad diets' and advised the forum to listen to their bodies and choose healthy lifestyles. Ms Menon further stated, "Tasty food is readily accepted by the body!

Ms Menon presented a demo on stage to the enthralled and eager to learn audience. The evening ended with the guest speakers and the members appreciating the sumptuous high tea and hors d oeuvres spread at ITC, while inter-mingling happily.

Deepa Malik in conversation with Boria Mazumdar

Speakers: Deepa Malik & Boria Mazumdar

Date: 30th January, 2017

Celebrating 50 years of Ladies Study Group, President Mrs Abhilasha Sethia organized a superb programme befitting its success in Kolkata & India. Members, well wishers and guests gathered to Celebrate the biggest milestone in Ladies Study Group's history – commemorating 50 Golden Years!

Founder President, Mrs Roma Bhagat & and Founder Vice President, Mrs Sumangala Birla started the programme by tracing LSGs antecedents. Members and Presidents over the years doggedly pursued information, success stories and personalities to share their knowledge on the LSG stage. This has kept the organization ahead and growing – not only in numbers but also in awareness.

Ladies Study Group owes its accomplishments and prestige to all those who led this organization from the front: ladies, who were knowledgeable, highly motivated and extremely enterprising.

 

A short film by well known filmmaker Mr Jayabrato Chatterjee, beautifully showcasing 50 years of LSG and the ladies who steered the Organisation to its success, was screened on the occasion.

Representing both theme for the year: Leading Change: Shaping the Future and the Golden Anniversary theme: Redefining Women LSG's emminent guest speaker for the Gala Celebration was one of the most inspirational women of our times – Arjuna Awardee Ms Deepa Malik, the first Indian female Para Olympic Medalist. All her life, Deepa has been constantly set precedents and raised the bar every time for all of us through her unbelievable achievements.

 

Sports journalist, academic, historian and author Boria Majumdar in conversation with Deepa Malik traced her success in the Para Olympian Games at Rio 2016. She has won medals in the 2014 Asian Games, Commonwealth Games & is the first Indian to win in China in too.

All this she achieved inspite of being wheelchair bound after repeated operations to remove tumors from her vertebrae resulted in her paralysis in the year 1999.

She rides a bike designed for her "dhoom" style. She wishes to break records to establish her own identity and does want to be known as a disabled patient. Her mantra is to keep calm be positive and happy and have good friends.

As the grand finale with confetti raining down, Usha Uthup sang a tribute to the ladies of Kolkata, as the audience waved torches.

A truly moving and inspirational programme to mark 50 years of LSG.

Ladies Study Group Charitable Trust Annual Award 2016 with Apurva Purohit

Date: 21st February, 2017

Abhilasha Sethia, the President of LSG began the event by felicitating the Ramkrishna Mission with the Shanti Devi Khaitan Award, a Rs. 50,000 prize dedicated to supporting the nursing diploma of a woman. The LSG Charitable Trust Annual Award was awarded to S.A.F.E., an organization that provides clean drinking water to underprivileged communities in Kolkata. The award included a cash prize of Rs. 2 lakhs and a citation, which was read by Diya Jaiswal. S.A.F.E. provides clean water to over 2500 slum households and impacts over 5000 lives. Women in particular are the beneficiaries of this program, as on an average they save 4 hours a day, which would have otherwise been spent collecting water. LSG is the first Indian organization to recognize S.A.F.E's efforts of providing clean drinking water.

President Lsg, Abhilasha, then introduced the guest speaker of the day, Apurva Purohit, President Jagran Group and author of the book Lady, You're Not a Man. Purohit took the stage for her talk titled "Can Women Have it all?" She spent the first 20 minutes questioning the assumption surrounding the title of her talk.

"Why is it that women cannot have it all?" Purohit asked the audience. Ms Purohit questioned why the "or" was a deciding word in women's lives that made them choose between career and familial responsibility. Ms Purohit dates this prejudice against women being able to "have it all" to Babylon in 1867 B.C. when a woman's life was worth one-fourth of that of a goat. She acknowledges that women's lives have changed for the better since, but have not improved to that extent. She asks if "[women] are leading the change we want to see around us".

Ms Purohit blames the Indian woman for her own suffering. Also known as the "suffering Sita syndrome", women turn to grief to make sense of their lives and to drown their guilt. Bollywood is largely to blame for this syndrome, as most Indian baby boomer women have grown up watching movie scenes of suffering women.  Apurva Purohit would like Indian women to change this mindset as a starting step to being happy in their personal lives.

Secondly,Ms Purohit would like Indian women to bring up their sons differently as she believes gender disparity starts at the household level. Most of today's educated younger generation of men do not believe that women should work after marriage, Purohit said, citing her experience at a top MBA school in India where only 10 percent of the male students said they wanted a working wife. At home, if we ensure that our girls and boys are given the same opportunities and treated equally, more young men will be likely to treat their wives as equals. More women would also have to enter the workforce so that our sons would be used to having working women at home, Purohit said.

Ms Purohit left the audience with three thoughts on what it takes to be happy. The first is that we need to sit and define what makes us happy. A defined list of things that make you happy will ensure you are on the path to happiness. The second is that we all need to have a purpose in life. Purohit quoted the Dalai Lama who said that it was good enough that he "had a [purpose] in life"; it did not matter if that purpose was achieved or not. Third, we need to make choices that define our own happiness for us. The choices we make carry 40 percent weightage in the "happiness formula"—the other two determining factors being birth order and circumstance—and so it is up to us to decide whether we are going to be the "victims, heroines, or bystanders in our own lives".

Ms Purohit's speech was followed by some comments from the audience and a vote of thanks from Namrata Sureka, Vice-President of LSG. The audience then proceeded for refreshments.

Suhel Seth in conversation with Rajdeep Sardesai – Is the India Media a boon or a curse today?

Date: 23rd March, 2017

Ladies Study Group proudly hosted Rajdeep Sardesai, a senior journalist, an Indian news anchor, and author. Sardesai is currently a consulting editor at the India Today group, and hosts Headlines Today. In conversation with Mr. Sardesai was Mr. Suhel Seth, a managing partner of consultancy firm Counselage India. Seth is also an author, columnist, actor, and TV pundit.

Sardesai spoke candidly in his opening statement, "Nationalists don't need to wear the Nationalist flag." Black or white journalism is not conceivable and his utmost duty as a journalist was to "show the mirror to society." Being quizzed by Seth if political polarizing was entering journalism, Sardesai candidly stated, "today journalists are to not merely report what they perceive; they need to have an opinion and there is no space for moderate opinion." Suhel pointed that the media should shift their focus from being negative to showing development in India. Sardesai cryptically responded, "We Journalists are ideological and lazy with a tendency to see the glass half-full."

Happy to settle down to a 'perfect banter', the conversation gets synchronised. The conversation transcended time settling onto something on another planar level. It was agreed by both that any democracy needs a good opposition especially in a vibrant and paradoxical country like India. Sardesai was outspoken and blunt by saying, "We are living in an intolerant world where the younger politicians do not want to face criticism."

 

Sardesai unabashedly claimed that the media was obsessed with Delhi and some parts of India were slipping off the map. He went on to say, "Digital Media is the future and today is the age for Infotainment." 

Seth stated, "The world has moved to Identity Politics," to which Sardesai responded, "The greatness of this country is in its diversity."

There was a reasonable amount of consensus between the guests while answering the questions from the audience about myriad subjects. The forum witnessed a brainteaser magical event, which had them in splits at their witty repartee! 

When selfie perambulation concluded, the guests enjoyed the sumptuous lay out of delicacies by the ITC.

 

Ms. Abhilasha Sethia, President LSG, wrapped up her tenure with this event by further raising the glass ceiling and setting a precedent for the future! 

The 50th Annual General Meeting

On 23rd March 2017 Ladies Study Group had its AGM with Mrs Mitalee Chatterjee conducting the proceedings.

Outgoing president Mrs Abhilasha Sethia in her speech spoke of joining the group 20 years back & being exposed to extraordinary women who have lead & set example. She said it was a beautiful journey & it was her privilege to be the president for the 50th year of Ladies Study Group. She personally thanked each member of the governing body & acknowledged the hard work of the committee. She thanked the support of Mr Rajeev Singh & ICC & her family.

She welcomed the incoming president Mrs Namrata Surekha & Vice President Madhulika Kanoria. After the formalities Namrata in her speech said that her motto for the year would be Dare to Care. To look beyond , to be a catalyst , to extend a helping hand.

She asked for everyone to go the extra mile & give voice in silence & hope in desperation.  The 50th AGM of Ladies Study Group was a memorable event.

The Magic & Mystery of Midlife - Rediscover this exciting chapter of Womanhood

Speakers: Aparna Sen, Shabana Azmi, Rakhi Sarkar, Lilette Dubey with Rahul Bose

Date: 7th April, 2017

LSG under the newly elect President, Ms. Namrata Sureka , hosted a scintillating event which gave the forum an enlightening perspective on the magic and mystery of midlife.

Rahul Bose, an Indian film actor, moderator of the event, stated he was in "female heaven," with a glint in his eye.

Ms. Aparna Sen, an Indian filmmaker, screenwriter and actress who is known for her work in Bengali cinema, said she made the movie "Sonata," with no commercial angle. It was a sheer idea of women past a certain stage bonding, chatting, and re-evaluating friendships. Sen felt that with age the inner beauty surfaces. Sen further stated, "Woman who is obsessed with her looks is an unhappy woman."

Ms. Rakhi Sarkar, owner of city-based CIMA art gallery stated, "midlife is not a crisis, it is a period of transition, self-critique, asking hard questions, and the period when reinvention can turn into rejuvenation." Sarkar said that midlife gives a tremendous boost. She further stated Picasso came out with his best work in his last decade.

Ms. Lilette Dubey, an Indian actress who has worked in theatre, television and Bollywood films, opined, "it is the same old you in an old body." She confessed her bucket list is increasing as her years are decreasing. At 40+ she feels wonderful and liberated. "When you transit, you have to reflect," she cryptically stated.

Ms. Shabana Azmi, an Indian filmmaker, screenwriter and actress who is known for her work in Bengali cinema, said she currently was in the phase of freedom. She stated, "for the sake of vanity, embrace your age. It is only then one can extend their age as an actor." Azmi candidly said, "I love women!" She felt the support system of women is very strong and there is no role-playing.

Kolkata sets the standard for creativity and creative excellence, so evident in the clipping of Ms. Aparna Sen's movie, 'Sonata' which was screened for the packed audience. As a Women's Organisation that looks for every opportunity to showcase women's empowerment, this event brought to the table a record of value creation.

Positive Conflict – On the Democratic Chess Board of India

Speakers: Mr. P. Chidambaram in conversation with Mr. Pavan K. Varma; moderated by Ms. Jyoti Malhotra

Venue: The Pala, ITC Sonar

Date: 5th May, 2017

Ladies Study Group proudly hosted eminent Indian political leader Mr. P. Chidambaram, MP Rajya Sabha, Former Union Minister of Finance. Sharing the dais was Mr. Pavan K. Varma, National General Secretary, and National Spokesperson of Janata Dal. Ms. Jyoti Malhotra, Senior Journalist, NDTV moderated the event.

Chidambaram being so candid, transparent and most importantly, engaging with the audience stated we should no longer tolerate an intolerance which undermines democracy and allows a culture of impunity and tormentors. “I am glad that Bengal is withstanding the onslaught of the saffron brigade. I applaud the leader of the Trinamul for standing up to the authoritarian, illiberal regime,” said Chidambaram. He further went on to say that he found it worrying that the spectre of “Hindu-Hindi hegemony” loomed large on the citizens of India. He was brutally honest in stating that the Congress Party did not portray as a strong opposition, emphasizing the need for a structured organisation starting from the grass root level.

Varma stated Indian politics is in the sea of fear: Both right wing and ‘secular’ parties have unleashed a vicious cycle of extremism. If India is to survive as a nation, the time has come for such insanity to stop. Indian politics badly needs a return to balance and statesmanship. Inclusion not exclusion, and hope not fear needs to guide our political class. If politicians do not understand this, the only hope is that, ultimately, the people of India will.

The speakers agreed ordinary Indians want good governance, jobs and economic development, an end to endemic social instability, and peace and security in their lives. If given a chance they will, beyond the machinations of clever politicians, vote in the long run for someone who promises these ends, and not for those who only use them as cannon fodder to win elections. Secularism will then not be the ‘slippery slope’ but a firm foundation for a mature and truly democratic republic.

Chidambaram said seven million persons of Kashmir valley felt alienated by the oppressive methods of the Indian government, which was a “terrible” mistake. The statement of Chief of Army Staff that anyone who interfered with defense operations would be treated as anti-national was the last straw.

Varma voiced a multi-pronged initiative, meticulously planned and uncompromisingly implemented, is the crying need of the hour for the issue of Kashmir.

India is culturally diverse & pluralistic society! There's unity in diversity.

#Superpower of Blogging

Tickle Your Funny Bones with Twinkle Khanna and The Colloquy chaired by Barkha Dutt

Venue: ITC Sonar

Date: 19th May, 2017

Ladies Study Group hosted Ms. Twinkle Khanna, Indian interior designer, newspaper columnist, film producer, author, and former film actress. Ms. Barkha Dutt, author and prominent Indian television journalist led Khanna's interview.

The author of Mrs. Funnybones unabashedly wooed the audience with her witty anecdotes, which she uses to put her point across. She believes in the "power of humor.” The actress turned writer talked about cinema, her childhood, her writing, her upcoming movie production, her marriage and how women have to fight to find their space in everything they do.

"Life is about chance in a game of choice,” she quips with candour. “My name is Twinkle, how much worse can it get,” says with a glint in her eye.

Dutt and Khanna developed a natural camaraderie right from the beginning and made the audience laugh at their wit.

Khanna talked candidly about her love for Math, her childhood dream to be a CA, her passion for reading, and most importantly maintaining her identity. She emphasized the “need to prepare the children for failure.” She expressed her gratitude to her family, who never took their success seriously, therefore making it easier to cut her losses in the field of acting and move on to her passion, writing. “As you age, you get comfortable in your skin,” quipped Khanna. Dutt summarized it by saying, “Books over Botox,” which had the audience in splits. “You're a Feminist, as long as you believe in women having equal opportunities as men,” said Mrs. Funny Bones.

The event was followed by interaction of guests over a sumptuous layout of tea by the ITC.

The Wellness Circle

Ms Vandana Luthra, Dr. Mickey Mehta, Ms. Nayanika Chatterjee and Ms Nilanjana Chakraborty

Venue: Taj Bengal

Date: 13th June, 2017

LSG initiated wellness Circle with 3 expert panellists Ms Vandana Luthra, founder of VLCC, a Padmasree awardee, Dr. Mickey Mehta, holistic health Guru and Ms. Nayanika Chatterjee, a Grooming consultant and former Super model, moderated by Ms Nilanjana Chakraborty, noted media personality.

Entrepreneur Vandana Luthra revolutionised the concept of beauty and wellness in India with VLCC. It was started as a wellness centre in in 1989 and now has evolved into an empire. She didn't have enough money but her zeal and faith in herself overshadowed everything else. She took a small loan and started operating from a salon and there was no looking back. She advocated scientific method for health and wellness treatment. She advises DNA test for weight management, consulting nutritionist for healthy diet, and skin test before applying any beauty products for best results. She says wellness is a larger domain and requires collaboration of beauty, health and fitness experts that is a cosmetologist, a nutritionist and a doctor.

Her VLCC family, her clients and the love of her family keeps her motivated, she says.

Dr. Mickey Mehta mesmerised the audience with his inspiring talk on wellness.. He says 95% of our genes are indeterministic, while only 5% are deterministic, so since 95% are indeterministic they can be changed with conscious intervention and intelligent ways of life. You can change the ways genes will be expressed. He highlights the importance of Deep breathing. His message is to get naturalised, get energised, get optimised, get maximised - get mickymized.

Noyonika spoke about the vowel mantra that she lives by and tries to impart to her students who are mostly aspiring models.She spoke about each vowel and what it meant to her--A for awareness and acceptance,E for energy and enthusiasm, I for selfdiscovery--learning to identify one's own strengths and weaknesses, O for learning to reach out and empathise with others and U for developing one's powers of understanding.She said she always advised those who came to her, against aping other supermodels, but to try to forge their own path, because each one of them is an individual and not a clone of any famous person.She also spoke of some of the misconceptions about drugs and alcohol being a part of a professional model's life. She felt there was more of this in other professions, especially among the younger generation. She said a model knew that her face and figure were the tools of her trade and she had to follow a healthy lifestyle, have disciplined hours, eat right to maintain and bring out the best as far as looks went. As it is,a model's career was a shortlived one,fraught with uncertainty and intense competition. She was asked if she had faced racism, given that she was 'dusky' unlike most 'fair and lovely'professional models. She admitted that she had,even as a child,but her parents were always very proud and supportive and that gave her the confidence to ignore unkind remarks from outsiders .Her father called her 'black gold'--a very rare and expensive form of gold. She also said that she learned,quite early to develop her talents,like painting,making others laugh and things like that so that outsiders,who met her,would focus on those,rather than her dark complexion.She said she said gardening helped her to destress.

ICC women achievers award on 12th July in Mumbai

Date: 12th July, 2017

A summer morning in Mumbai, opens its doors to the "Women Entrepreneurs" Summit & ICC Women Achievers Awards. Mrs. Namrata Sureka (President LSG) addresses the crowd by quoting Swami Vivekananda's words that compares a society flying with one wing unless the condition of the women is not improved. Ms. Naina Lal Kidwai ( Chairman of Max Financial) requotes these same words later on inspiring us all with her experiences & fortitude of being a woman entrepreneur in a man's world.

Accolades were handed out to women achievers like Ms. Kidwai, Ms. Uma Sistla (GM of SBI) Ms.Yami Gautam ( Actor) Ms. Revathy Roy (Founder Hey DeeDee) and many others. Our own ex president Mrs Mukul Agarwal moderated the session between the women speakers; all well established in their field of expertise. "Can women have it all? " still stands to be one of the most asked & permeable questions. The unanimous answer is that we all have these 3 precious crystal balls, that needs juggling all the time. Family, Career and Myself. These women entrepreneurs urge us to concsiously pick up other women from their working dynamics, give them a chance and even mentor them. There is no shortcuts to success, hard work has to be punched in. One essential that we as women forget is to network. Men network all the time, whereas after work we give priority to family to pacify our guilt. The biggest take away for us all was that "Ambition" is not a bad word. Vice President MrsMadhulika Kanoria gave the vote of thanks leaving the podium open for the next session for the women entrepreneurs & investors & new age technologies.

Legacy in Rhythm

Speakers: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan; Amaan Ali Bangash; Ayaan Ali Bangash; moderated by Ms. Sagarika Ghose

Venue: Taj Bengal

Date: 25th July, 2017

Ladies Study Group proudly hosted a culturally rich event, "Legacy in Rhythm" with Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash in a classic jugalbandi with Ms. Sagarika Ghose to an enthralling audience.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, the living legend belongs to a lineage, unbroken ...musical tradition of seven generations. His forefathers had modified the Sarod, which in his opinion, is closest to the human voice. On being called a genius by Ms. Sagarika Ghose, he humbly quipped, "Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration." He further stated the huge responsibility to keep the legacy alive, he had to forsake his freedom of childhood under the strict disciplinary eye of his father cum Guru. Khan Saab had the audience in raptures when he disclosed, "My father was uncomfortable if the Malawi was not in tune while reciting the Azaan."

Amaan Ali Bangash candidly confessed to being in a complexed relationship with his father, sometimes not knowing when to be a son or a disciple! He did feel the pressure as a child but in retrospect was only too glad to inherit this family wealth of music. He stated, "At the tender age of 12 years, it dawned upon me - It's beautiful if I could make their dream into destiny." Khan Saab interrupted by saying that he would play 'Jingle Bells' and other nursery rhymes on the Sarod to lure the children into his world of music.

Ayaan Ali Bangash thanked the LSG committee for adorning the 'Mekhla' sarees, which would have pleased his mother, of Assamese origin. He candidly confessed that he spent his initial years striving for approval by his father and henceforth music became a way of life! He added that to keep the tradition and the old world charm alive, it is imperative to be progressive. In his opinion, different genres of music get famous at different times. Amaan quipped, "Classical music is like sushi, and not butter chicken," which had the audience in splits.

Khan Saab educated the audience by saying that classical music is not and cannot be written; but has to be passed down generations. It has more slides and glides than any other music. "Music is the name of quality and not quantity, "he said. He poignantly stated, "The seven notes of the musical scale in classical music are there in every form of rhythm and music. It is only language that creates barriers. Each one of us is born with rhythm comparing it to our.... heartbeats." The audience burst into peals of laughter when Khan Saab commented, "Fusion music is very common. Some fusion is appealing and some fusion is total con-fusion." The trio was on the same platform professing music connected them to a supreme divine power, cosmic element and it was the utmost form of prayer.

The trio swayed the audience by humming different melodies and so did our very own kolkatan, Ms. Usha Uthup. Books written by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and by Ms. Sagarika Ghose were on sale and the authors magnanimously agreed to sign the copies. It indeed was an intellectually and culturally stimulating event!

Weaving the way from Culture to Couture

Speakers: Tarun Tahiliani

Venue: ITC Sonar

Date: 17th August, 2017

Ladies Study Group proudly hosted an ace Indian fashion designer, Tarun Tahiliani, who gave the forum an insightful and an invigorating session in the world of fashion and style.

Tarun Tahiliani is a noted Indian fashion designer, best known for his ability to infuse Indian craftsmanship and textile heritage with European tailored silhouette. Over the years, his name has become almost synonymous to bridal wear!

The forum witnessed a brainteaser magical event, which unfolded with fusion singer, Isheeta Ganguly singing “Vande Mataram” and Tarun Tahiliani reciting Rabindranath Tagore’s famous lyrics, “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high…” to an anxious audience. Tarun talked about his life journey, opening of his store ‘Ensemble’, which then became a catalyst for more stores to open nationwide. Tarun stated, “Women were done with boredom of socialism” and what followed was the rebirth of embroidery on beautiful textiles!

The models swayed down the ramp in his ingenious styles; in an iconic, cinematic style reminiscent of the golden age of both Bollywood & Hollywood. Tarun displayed his “Ready to wear”, “Evening wear” and lastly the feather light, “Bridal wear” which had the audience mesmerized.

Tarun showcased on screen, his collection from “India Couture Week 2017”, “Chikankari collection”, “Kumbh collection”, and his newly launched carpets with chikankari and paisley weaves. He poignantly mentioned, “It’s a tremendous journey for fashion. The focus is how we designers take India and interpret in an Indian way.” Tarun suggested investing in timeless pieces, which never go out of fashion. He educated the audience by showcasing various drapes with dhoti, pants or by itself. He stated, “Wear it and individualize it.” He strongly believes that fashion has to evolve to free people. Tarun, the acclaimed designer, gave a tip to the women of LSG, “Look at yourself and be yourself.”

Tarun developed a natural camaraderie right from the beginning with the dismayed audience who marveled at his creations and his interpretation on the sensibilities of his designs. Tarun proved to the impressed forum that he indeed is the epitome of modern ace fashion designer!!

LSG Annual Trip 2017

Venue: Venice

Date: 7th to 13th September, 2017

We started our trip with the Charming city of Venice ,with the Excitement and buzz of the 'Biennale, and the film festival'. It began on a wellness note with a talk on 'Mio balance' by Dr. Giovanni. This culinary trip began with the art of learning to make the best 'bellinis' at Hotel 'Ciprianni' and organic salads at the 'Carlton' hotel on the grand canal.A group of us visited the Rialto food market to see, smell and savour the local flavours whilst the others went on a cultural and historical walk through Venice. Our next destination was the gastro heart of Tuscany, where we stayed at the hillside village 'll Borro'now a 'Relais n chateaux' property owned by the ferragamo family, truly magical where time seemed to stand still. Our next agenda being 'Truffle hunting' with the dogs was surely an unforgettable experience ! The well renowned silver designer 'Giovanni Raspini' took us through his factory giving us a first hand experience of his stunning creations . We were proudly invited by The 'Mayor of Arrezzo' on a official visit to the 'Town Hall'. Dinner was laid out under the stars at the most enticing 'Cappana de Sole'. Our final day was spent amongst Cypress trees,vineyards and olive groves at the 'll falconiere' in the pretty town of Cortona. Here we mastered the art of pasta-making with Michelin chef 'Silvia barrachi'. Our last and final evening was hosted at the 'Osteria terrace' by Ferragamo's granddaughter, Ms 'Vittoria ferragamo'at 'Il borro'. Truly a week of unforgettable and unbelievable experiences!

An Exclusive 'MEMBER'S AFTERNOON' To Ignite The Divinity Within...

Sculptor Artist: Narayan Sinha

Venue: Taj Bengal

Date: 25th October, 2017

LSG organised an exclusive members afternoon on Wednesday,25th October at the Taj Bengal. The theme for the event was “Igniting the Devi Shakti Within” - a celebration of the Goddess, and the Members looked resplendent in their Red Attire which symbolised the “Devi Shakti”. The stage set the mood for the afternoon with a magnificent Durga installation by Narayan Sinha and the audience was resplendent in various shades of red adding vibrant and festive hues to the occasion.

The event kickstarted with a powerful rendition of the Devi Vandana by the leading danseuse and choreographer Tanushree Shankar and her dance troupe. Grace and fluidity captivated the entire audience who were enraptured by the dance performance.

The talented craftsman Narayan Sinha then took over the stage and was in conversation with the vivacious Mrs. Gouri Basu who steered the interaction to cover Narayan’s moving story of his simple upbringing to the success, he has achieved today in the global art world . Narayan shared how it was Women who had always empowered him rather than the other way around and made a special mention of his sensitive relationship with his mother . He received a huge round of applause when he highlighted how important it was for each and every woman to love and respect herself first and celebrate her own life and then focus on others around her.

The members were divided into 16 groups (with 10 members each) based on the names of the different Indian goddesses . An exciting quiz followed which was thoroughly enjoyed by all . A creative competition wherein each group was provided with a basket of items and had to create their own innovative version of the Devi, was the next attraction. The outcome surpassed all expectations with each group at its ingenous best making it challenging for the judges to choose a winner . The thought, the imagination and the crystallising of it into stunning installations had to be seen, to be believed !

The traditional Indian lunch and the decorative flowers all over the banquet hall further complimented the venue and the constant ringing of laughter and smiling faces of our members bore testimony to the memorable afternoon that was shared by the LSG ladies ..or rather ..the Devis ...in red !!

Visit to Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre & Research Institute

Venue:Thakurpukur Cancer Centre

Date:7th November, 2017

Words seem inadequate to describe the visit by the members of the Ladies Study Group to the Children's Wing of the Thakurpukur Cancer Hospital on Tuesday, 7th November 2017. A group of 45 members visited the premises but were totally unprepared for the gamut of emotions that each one experienced through the course of the morning.

The event began with us being seated in the hospital auditorium along with the children and their parents . We were told about the inspiring story behind how the hospital was set up many years ago by the dynamic late Dr Saroj Gupta . His younger son shared details of the hospital foundation and how it had started as a 22 bed hospital and evolved into a state of the art hospital with over 300 patient beds today with fifty percent of their medical care being completely free for the underprivileged.The commitment and dedication of the Gupta family and their tireless dedication to fight this dreaded disease and make care available for one and all was truly remarkable .We then witnessed a beautiful poetry rendition from a young girl who was currently undergoing cancer treatment .There was not a dry eye in the audience as we watched her incredible spirit and positivity which shone through the sparkle in her eyes . This was followed by an excellent magic show where the magician was none other than the hospital radiologist himself . The sounds of laughter and glee that reverberated through the audience especially of the young children was heartening and brought a smile to all our faces . We also visited the children's cancer ward and again spread some cheer by distributing gifts amongst the children which they opened up immediately to enjoy while the parents looked on indulgently.

However the reality of the visit was inescapable...the pain and anguish in the parents eyes as they watch their kids struggle to fight this dreaded disease was starkly evident . And while the hospital authorities are making a valiant attempt to help one and all ,the paucity of funds was visibly a huge drawback . Major medical machinery was lying unused because it needed repair and maintenance which was not possible as there were no funds . We all left the hospital resolute with the decision that we each have to do our bit to help this hospital forge on ahead with their exemplary work.

LSG has always supported the Thakurpukur Hospital and will continue to do so and we would urge all our members to come forward and join hands with us to do this . Let's give back to our city and it's people in any way possible,big or small as in the words of Dr Gupta every drop of water contributes to creating the ocean . This is our city and these are our people and we all need to action our feelings in what ever way possible.

Women- The Grit and Grace of Society

Speakers: Vidya Balan, Suresh Triveni, Atul Kasbekar, Arjun Chakraborty

Venue: INOX (Quest)

Date:17th November, 2017

The Ladies Study Group hosted an exclusive premiere show of the new film, 'Tumhari Sulu' followed by a candid conversation with actress, Vidya Balan, writer-director, Suresh Triveni, and producer, Atul Kasbekar, moderated by Tollywood actor, Arjun Chakraborty on "Women- The Grit and Grace of Society".

Vidya Balan wins us over with a charming film, which deals with real conflicts and dares to push boundaries hard. Vidya Balan plays Sulu, and she is superb in the part. She is a character filled with an indefatigable can-do spirit -- her refrain in the film is a constant 'Main kar sakti hai'. Her 1000-watt smile never wavering, her quicksilver expressions never failing to light up each frame...

Here, the homemaker is the hero who will surely have you at "Hello"!

Vidya was candid in admitting as she hailed from a middle class family, therefore she related to the film instantly. "Wohi pagal pan mujhe Sulu me dikha,"professed Vidya. She said, "I always wanted to work in the Land of Ray." Vidya revealed the atmosphere in the set was conducive for all to give their best. Forty-two days of shooting was an effortless and a unique experience where positive energies came together and everyone on the set had a sense of ownership in the film. Vidya stated her take away from the film was "Main kar sakti hai - if anybody can, a woman can."

Writer-director, Suresh Triveni unabashedly claimed being a fan of the maverick actress, Vidya Balan, and having the desire to work with her. He touched the Bengali sentiment by stating his work was influenced by great Hrishikesh Mukherjee and the legendary Gulzar sahib. On being quizzed by Arjun Chakraborty regarding the ending of the film, Triveni responded with equanimity, "I could not see Sullu giving up her Sulluness. Sulluness is all about optimism."

Producer of award winning film Neerja, Atul Kasbekar said he looks for projects with its novelty and spaces that have not been occupied. 'Tumhari Sullu' is relatable and reinforces the magic of Hrishikesh Mukherjee films.

The mesmerized audience witnessed a surreal and a magical experience celebrating womanhood in all its many-hued glory followed by a selfie perambulation!

Sports...Through the Eyes of Gavaskar

Speakers: Sunil Gavaskar, Gaurav Kapur

Venue: Royal Calcutta Turf Club

Date:19th November, 2017

Ladies Study Group felicitated Sunil Gavaskar, a former cricketer who played during the 1970s and 1980s for India. Widely regarded as one of the greatest opening batsman in cricket history, Gavaskar set world records during his career for the most Test runs and most Test centuries scored by any batsman. He held the record of 34 Test centuries for almost two decades.

Gaurav Kapur, a live wire, Indian actor and television presenter known for being the host of the pre-match Indian Premier League show, Extraaa Innings T20, moderated the event brilliantly and put Gavaskar at much ease. Happy to settle down to a 'perfect banter', the conversation gets synchronized, the conversation transcended onto another planar level i.e. behind the scenes...episodes from the changing rooms...to bicker bantering on the field and much more.

Gavaskar on being complimented on his youthful demeanor, quoted-"50's is the youth of old age" which had 'female skewed audience' in splits. He reminisced as to how he never adorned a metal skullcap rather than a helmet, which would have been devastating if he encountered a hit as, explained by a neurosurgeon years late.

He categorically mentioned in spite of technology not being advanced, not having the risk of being heard, there was hardly any sledging on the field in his time. There was only banter and nothing personal. He shared close proximity with his opponents as oppose to today, whereby, being friendly with the opponent is considered a hindrance in the player's performance and bringing down the intensity of the game.

Gavaskar shared stories of the 'Sunday Club', which was formed to break barriers between juniors and seniors. Winning the "World Cup" was the most joyful and exhilarating experience of his cricket life!

It was difficult to encapsulate Gavaskar's whole cricket career, nevertheless, Kapur did an incredible job. Their subtle nuances of cricket, fun and life left all of us enthralled. It was an incomparable evening.

Brahmakumari Sister Shivani to Motivate Us on Understanding Relationships

Speakers: Brahmakumari Sister Shivani

Venue: Hyatt Regency

Date:18th December, 2017

Ladies Study Group proudly hosted globally renowned spiritual motivator and mentor, Sister Brahmakumari Shivani, who has touched the lives of millions to achieve spiritual transformation, at the serene lawns of Hyatt Regency. Sister BK Shivani, in an exclusive conversation with the members of LSG, being so candid, transparent and most importantly engaging with the audience, delivered a nuanced talk.

Sister Shivani laid emphasis on strengthening the bond of relationships by careful introspection and a sustained intellectual engagement and what better way to do that than to let go of the ‘Ego’. In order to let go of ‘Ego’, we must be devoid of comparison, heal the mind and thereby healing our inner self. Competition and comparison are egoistic behaviour, stressing on the ‘I’. Comparisons it is said are odious. And yet this is the criterion we use to judge every aspect of our lives. We keep in mind a frame of reference for everything-happiness, success, peace, pleasure, pain, accolades and yes, even love. The mind had an inbuilt calculator. Our comparative canvas increases manifold with social media. She stressed to inculcate the sanskar of acceptance and appreciation. “To heal any relationship, we must clean our minds, release the past and perfect our perception,” she stated.

Sister Shivani professed there should be unconditional love for family in order to radiate positive vibration, called ‘blessings’. Positive vibrations i.e. blessings can help family members bypass difficult times. She suggested that cooking for family members is the best way to connect with them, thereby emitting positive vibration. She preached that relationship with ‘you’ is the only criterion, in order to enhance the soul, which has a forward journey. It is a self-choice that every thought one creates is pure and devoid of jealousy and criticism. Sister Shivani asked the packed audience to give a gift to themselves by cleaning their minds, releasing the past and thereby developing positive healthy relationships.

“The best relationship is one in which yesterday’s fight doesn’t stop today’s communication”, said Sister Shivani.

Sister Shivani left the audience mesmerized not only by her divine radiating presence but also by her talk, as one knows that she's not coming from a space of pretense or artifice. If she hankers for anything, it's peace of mind, healthy relationships & that's what floats her boat!

A Grim Peek Into Celebrity Prison Life…

Speakers: Ms. Roopa Moudgil; Ms. Vrinda Grover; Ms. Sunetra Choudhury; Ms. Alokananda Roy;

Moderator: Dr. Kunal Sarkar

Venue: Taj Bengal

Date: 24th January, 2018

Ladies Study Group unveiled the ‘Gripping Tales of Lives in Jail’ and peek into the prison lives of celebrities in a rare and engrossing session with a commendable panel, highly reputed in their respected fields. The experienced Dr. Kunal Sarkar-- with his sardonic humor, easy sharp wit, and candour prompted the panelists to respond with alacrity, to come up with some exciting revelations-- moderated the event.

“Journalism to law enforcement, Indian women have carved a niche”, stated LSG President, Namrata Sureka in her introductory speech.

Sunetra Choudhury, journalist and anchor with the Indian news channel NDTV 24x7, author of Behind Bars: Prison Tales Of India’s Most Famous revealed how she emotionally travelled the spectrum in writing this book.

“I met someone who came out of jail and started telling me wild things that they did inside,” said Choudhury. “I couldn’t believe it and then my curiosity led me to do some more digging.”

The book is not only about life behind bars, but also about the profiles of these VIPs, details of their alleged crimes, of her conversations with them. Choudhury also spoke to jail officials to verify stories. The objective was never to determine if someone was guilty or innocent. It was always to tell the story of what happens when an unlikely person ends up incarcerated, she said.

“In fact, the prisoners carry all their social privileges as well as their vulnerabilities and discriminations into jail,” she stated. “I guess it can be called an exposé.”

Ms. Vrinda Grover, lawyer, researcher, and human rights and women’s rights activist professed that justice must reach everyone — not just privileged Indians on the top rungs but those in insurgency-torn areas, those unjustly tortured, jailed or executed, and those who slip through the many cracks in the system. Her determination to force an often recalcitrant political and legal system to change in the ‘colonial model institution’ was evident. She stated, “Is the jail a great leveler as invariably economic disparity is carried inside the four walls of prison?” She cited the inhuman treatment meted out to prisoners and the inadequate diet was a hindrance to the mindset in order to bring about transformation. In her opinion, the government or think tanks look at prisons only from a managerial perspective. She voiced, “Torture is not a crime in India. In fact, India is the only democracy where there is no law on torture!”

Roopa Moudgil, the deputy inspector general (prisons) of Karnataka, recently transferred, made it to the national news for exposing the special treatment given to AIADMK interim general secretary, V K Sasikala, who is lodged in Bengaluru’s central prison. There is no doubt that DIG Moudgil honored her commitment to the public by throwing light on corruption in the jail system. She confirmed what has been widely known for a long time, in fact— the rich and powerful are of course given VIP treatment even behind bars, such as in the case of mafia don-turned politician Mohammad Shahabuddin, or even Sahara chief Subrata Roy. She cited, “It is a reality that India’s prisons are a living hell for a majority of the inmates, while the rich and the powerful manage to carve out a privileged existence for themselves even within the system by using their money and clout.”

Alokananda Roy, actor, dancer has been using the arts, especially traditional dance and music, to change lives of convicts at the Presidency Correctional Home in Kolkata. Her work involving reforms for jail inmates, especially for convicts under-trials through her art and love-therapy has provided new life to hardened criminals. She stated, “I believe in love therapy as a human touch.” The dancer-social worker told the LSG forum that she never asks any personal questions; she only wants to share the joy of music and rhythm with the inmates.

There was a general consensus amongst the distinguished panelists that ‘our social silence’ is largely the problem at hand. The forum witnessed a superb expose’ event, with moderator Dr. Kunal Sarkar who had the LSG members in splits with his witty repartee.

'Shakti Beyond Borders; an LSG International Conclave

Speakers: Sri Lanka: Ms. Otara Gunewardene; Pakistan: Ms. Ameena Saiyid; Nepal: Ms. Charu Chadhai; Myanmar: Ms. Kyi Pyar; Bangladesh: Ms. Farzana Chowdhury

Venue: ITC Pala

Date: 16th February, 2018

The Ladies Study Group as a Women's Organisation that looks for every opportunity to showcase women's empowerment proudly presented 'An International Conclave', hosting prominent women guest-speakers from India and the five neighbouring countries celebrating 'Shakti Beyond Borders'!!

The ladies study group Celebrated 'Shakti Beyond Borders 'with a unique presentation of Sand Art by artist Baadal Barai created live, showcased on the screen to the mesmerised audience.

"You empower a woman, you empower a nation" said LSG President, Namrata Sureka in her opening speech. She introduced the illustrious panel as 'dynamic torchbearers' for women empowerment.

India representative, Ms. Ruchira Gupta, Emmy-winning filmmaker and activist moderated the event. Ruchira Gupta is an Indian sex trafficking abolitionist, journalist and activist. Gupta is the Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide – a grassroots organization in India working to end sex trafficking.

Ms. Gupta stated that the Indian sub-continent was truly empowered, although lagging in socio-economic growth. Male dominance, dowry deaths, abandonment of widows, lack of education for women were few of the many problems at hand.

As a moderator, she questioned the distinguished panel the challenges they faced, advised steps in the progressive direction, their dreams for their daughters and managing motherhood.

Indian delegate said Kamala Chatopaday, who challenged Mahayana Gandhi during the 'Salt March' was her icon.

Sri Lanka representative, Ms. Otara Gunewardene, entrepreneur, philanthropist and fashion icon founded Sri Lankan fashion and lifestyle store, Odel. Gunewardene was the first female entrepreneur to take a company public in Sri Lanka.

Ms. Gunewardene confessed of starting her business to raise funds to save the animals, protect the environment thereby saving the world. She was proud of her country where literacy rate is 92% , equal to men and women. In her opinion, poverty was the main hindrance for a better life. "I never thought of myself as a woman pushing my dreams; I feel that was my strength," stated Sri Lankan delegate.

"The sole purpose of life is to be who you truly are," said Sri Lankan delegate. Regarding children, she quipped, "Let them be!"

As a Buddhist, adapting detachment made her sell her profitable company in order to save the planet for future generations and thereby creating awareness.

Sri Lankan delegate's mother, running a school of 3500+ special children inspired her as her role model in addition to Mother Teresa.

Pakistan representative, Ms. Ameena Saiyid, is the managing director of Oxford University Press (OUP) in Pakistan. She became the head of OUP Pakistan in 1988, becoming the first woman to ever head a multinational company in Pakistan.

Ms. Saiyid stated, "Perseverance is what matters for women." She narrated the challenges faced as a working women in her primitive society, not being granted maternity leave, the bets within the company on her survival as the MD and their sole purpose was to instigate her to throw in the towel.

"Struggle needs to be sustainable," stated Pakistani delegate. She felt inflation was the main ingredient in pushing more women folk in the work force. In her opinion education is the main tool and will be instrumental in giving opportunity to the huge pool of talent which is untapped in Pakistan.

Nepal representative, Ms. Charu Chadha is the consultant for the FNCCI Excellence Awards. She is the editor of MEDIA 9, which produces Business 360 and World of Women (WOW) magazines. A strong proponent of free markets and liberty, Charu has over two decades of experience in journalism, marketing, communications and events.

Ms. Chadha professed, "Career chose me, I didn't choose the career." She said she felt segregated in a country where 10 year old 'kumari' is the goddess. She questioned the inequality between genders, wanted to share stories and search for answers primarily for herself. "We need to redefine success," said Nepal delegate. She believed the genders complimented each other and we should be careful in not crossing the fine line of feminism. Her personal anecdote for transformation was a fight to perform the last rights for her father.

Nepal delegate quoted, "I am a strong woman because I was raised by one." She advised to turn tears into strength and to be economically empowered.

Myanmar reprentative, Ms. Kyi Pyar is the MP, NLD Kyauktada Township, Yangon Regional Parliament, ACYPL: 2014 Spring Legislative Process + Governance Fellows Program (LFP) She is an eminent Activist in Yangon, Founder of 'Better Life Charity Organization' and works for Children from Orphanages in Ayeyarwaddy and Bago Regions.

Ms. Kyi candidly confessed the military rule till 2010 in her country was detrimental in the growth of the economy. She got involved in politics, against her family's wishes to bring about change in every sector. She happily stated the significant increase in women participation from 4% in 2010 to 14% in 2014 general election in Myanmar. High child rape in her region was a big concern and it is her aspiration to see more women in powerful positions in the world.

Myanmar delegate blamed the political situation of her country in her wedlock decision. She feared being jailed as a politician and therefore did not want the responsibility of a child.

Poor education and poor economic system kindled a fire in her to join politics, in anticipation to bring about a positive change in society.

Bangladesh representative, Ms. Farzana Chowdhury is the Managing Director and CEO of Green Delta Insurance Company Limited, and Mohammad Adnan Imam FCCA, Managing Director of Genex Infosys. Having spent over two decades in the insurance industry, she is now providing commercial insurance schemes directly aimed at improving economic security for women.

Ms. Chowdhury candidly stated all women across borders face challenges. She was advised while working for a NGO to leave decision making to the men, which antagonised her to come out of her comfort zone, break barriers and thereby providing women with 'One service platform-insurance' in her launch pad.

Personal anecdote for transformation for the Bangladesh delegate was the moment she was being refused to intern in an Islamic Bank.

Bangladesh delegate was inspired by her mother to live her dream, face challenges and to be a leader to love people.

The distinguished panel was unanimous in their belief that in order to build communities, we need to work together across borders rather than work in isolation. The gathering in full strength witnessed a powerful interactive engagement by powerful women of the sub-continent as never seen before in LSG.

'The forum witnessed an inclusive celebration of womanhood ... celebrating the oneness of womanhood'.

LSG Charitable Trust Annual Awards 2017

Speakers: The Honourable Governor of West Bengal, Shree Keshari Nath Tripathi, Ms. Kavita Krishnamurti, Ms. Nafisa Ali, Namrata Sureka and Ms. Mitalee Chatterjee

Venue: Taj Bengal

Date: 24th March, 2018

The Ladies Study Group Charitable Trust Awards began with LSG executive secretary, Ms. Mitalee Chatterjee, welcoming all assembled guests.

President, Namrata Sureka in her welcome address expressed gratitude to the Governing Body, Committee Members, and LSG members for their support and participation throughout the year. She quoted, "Individually, we are one drop but together, we are an ocean."

A short video depicting the events of the year was shown.

Ms. Madhulika Kanoria was inducted as new LSG President and Ms. Iti Dasgupta was inducted as Vice- President for 2018-19.

The resolution was proposed and approved. Ms. Mitalee Chatterjee announced the committee for 2018.

The AGM was terminated.

Award ceremony began with an opening performance-melodious rendition of 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' by musician duo Sourendro and Soumyojit, saluting the participants on stage from the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, The Calcutta Deaf and Dumb School, and girls from the NGO 'Ektara', for their bravery, courage and determination against all adversities.

The annual award 2017 themed "Saahas" of LSG Charitable Trust was given away by Hon. Gov. of West Bengal, Sri Keshari Nath Tripathy to courageous women who have shown exemplary courage against all odds.

Mallika Dey, the first recipient of Saahas award, who by her grit and determination overcame challenges. She began her journey with selling 'batashas', and now she is the only woman gas cylinder distributor in West Bengal.

Sadhana Mandal, the 2nd recipient of LSG Saahas award lost her arm in an accident. However, given her passion for stitching, is now team leader of 200 workers, guiding and motivating them in 'Kantha' embroidery.

Shanti Devi Khaitan Award instituted last year was awarded to Ms. Naheda Ali for her meritorious achievement in H. S, now pursuing B. Com (Hons) at Shree Shikshayatan College.

The Ladies Study Group collected and donated a sum of Rs. 40 lakhs to Thakurpukur cancer hospital for construction of mechanised kitchen for catering hygienic cooked meal to cancer patients. Gov. handed over the cheque to Mr. Anjan Gupta and Dr. Arnab Gupta.

Hon. Gov. in his speech applauded the commendable work of LSG. He interpreted 'Saahas' as the spirit to face any adversity and firm determination to rise against all odds. He cited examples of Rani Laxmibai, Mallala who had inherent quality of Saahas in them and they had the ability to endure. He enthralled the audience by reciting a self-composed poem.

Thereafter, an engaging interactive session was followed with Ms. Kavita Krishnamurthy, Padmashree awardee and playback singer and Ms. Nafisa Ali, actor and social activist. Mr. Manoj Mohanka moderated the session. Kavita Krishnamurthy's journey of success began in Bengal and was helped by Bollywood Bengali playback singers like Hemanta Mukherjee, Manna De amongst others, which helped to earn her a footing at Mumbai film industry. She is true believer in destiny. Nafisa reiterated her heritage and Bengali roots. As an activist, she always believed in truthfulness and having an impact on society. Kavita Krishnamurthy tuned a few lines from her famous hits; our very own Usha Uthup also pitched in. The audience was mesmerised by the performance.

The event was followed by interaction of guests over a sumptuous layout of lunch by the Taj.

A Woman of Substance: Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Honb'le Defence Minister

Speaker: Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman

Moderator: Ms. Ankita Mukherji, NDTV Anchor

Venue: Taj Bengal

Date: 30th April, 2018

As our new LSG President, Mrs. Madhulika Kanoria, stated her theme for the upcoming year – Inspire, Influence, Impact – India's Raksha Mantri, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, embodied this message in front of a captivated audience.

Having shattered many a glass ceiling herself, some unnoticed and others nationally visible, Sitharaman opened the session by stating that there is , "No such a thing as a 'man's job' anymore". Senior NDTV Editor and Calcutta's very own Ankita Mukherji expertly anchored the event. In an allusion to Sitharaman's iconic photo in Shanghai, where she stands tall, in a pristine, green sari, flanked by men in dark suits, Mukherji aptly proclaimed that 'a picture is worth a 1000 words'.

A striking conversation ensued. Ankita, in her trademark, incisive style, posed questions to the minister on the Doklam stand-off and the Prime Minister's informal China session. Sitharaman valiantly emphasized that India's mature handling of the disengagement was a matter of national pride; the informal meeting of two great leaders had paved the way for a distinct relationship between the countries, strengthened by the prospect of long-term imports. Questioned on the CPEC, the Defence Minister unequivocally asserted that India's sovereignty was sacrosanct.

Unhesitant to speak her mind, on the issue of women's safety, the Minister admitted that multiple pillars of support had to be created at all levels, starting from the ground-up. Although individual women had attained great heights, general conditions needed betterment. She revealed that the government was working on amendments to the IPC, on various legislations that framed stricter punishments for perpetrators, as well as on expedited redressal proceedings through special courts.

Ankita continued to pose intelligent questions to Sitharaman on a host of issues ranging from violence on JNU's Campus , to border tensions, parliamentary deadlock, Karnataka's elections, rural electrification, and the Corporate restoration of India's heritage buildings. Sitharaman's dexterity and wit shone through, as she floored the audience with her clear, honest responses to each of these issues.

The Ladies Study Group was proud to have hosted such an awe-inspiring session, graced by the presence of India's first full time Defence Minister. Every member & guest was left energized, confident and proud that the nation's security lies in able hands.

A WORK SHOP on 'The Art Of Mindfulness'

Speaker: Dr. Sonera Jhaveri

Venue: Harikunj Auditorium

Date: Thursday 22 May, 2018

Ladies Study Group organised a WORK SHOP on ' The Art Of Mindfulness' by Dr.Sonera Jhaveri, an integral psychotherapist on Thursday 22 May, 2018 at Harikunj auditorium.The sessions were from 10.45 -12 noon and 2pm- 3.15pm

Dr. Jhaveri's sessions were on how we can appreciate Mindfulness.

Mindfulness helps us in many ways -dealing with stress, negative thinking and it also takes care of our health and relationship issues. Mindfulness meditation derives its methods from ancient Buddhist and yogic practices, practiced over 2500 years ago, where one pays attention to moment to moment in a non judgemental way. Self regulation and self awareness therapy exercises were conducted in a relaxed atmosphere.

A list of Mindfulness Inventory was given to each participant for self assessment in order to establish their level of concentration in the present moment. Without training we can be at present moment, at the most, for a few seconds

Why should we be in the present? Life is happening and we need to make it more secure by concentration and practice. We need to settle the mind.

We often observe that our body s engaged in one activity and mind wavers somewhere else. Negative bytes and negative tendency to make judgements is inherent in us. Mindfulness is the antidote.

80% of the judgements we make are negative which create stress. Unless we can change our mind to accept the present as reality, we will not be able to reduce the stress.

She suggested practice of Mindfulness will help us to be in the present. If one practices for 21days, it will be part of our life. Mindfulness is a practice of looking at our life as observer and to redirect our mind to be more aware, observant and conscious. Negative thinking / Negative judgement have massive physio-psychological impact on our body especially, resistance to change.

Every aspect of life— we have physiological and psychological responses. Stress is impacting us. It manifests itself in our life.

Stress is the No. 1 killer. It creates various problems in mind and body - from cancer to back pain. Modern psychologists are trying to change neurotransmitter to address this problem. Mindful exercise/ meditation was practised in this session.

Mindfulness of eating exercise was practised with a raisin, just a metaphor to assesss how we eat.

The two, highly informative and meaningful sessions gave the participants a greater awareness of themselves and afforded them a way to handle today's stressful moments in a more constructive & beneficial manner.

Redefining Success As A Woman of Today

Speaker: Ms. Indira Jaising, Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya, Ms. Manisha Girotra, Ms. Kiran Uttam Ghosh, Ms. Paroma Roy Chowdhury

Venue: The Westin, Rajarhat

Date: 29th June, 2018

Ladies Study Group members and guests were audience to a most invigorating panel discussion on “Redefining Success As A Woman of Today” with eminent personalities: Indira Jaising, Supreme Court lawyer and India’s first woman additional Solicitor General; Arundhati Bhattacharya, former chairperson of State Bank of India; Manisha Girotra, CEO Moelis & co. (investment banking) and Kiran Uttam Ghosh, renowned fashion designer of Kolkata. Paroma Roy Chowdhury, Vice President, corporate communications & public affairs, Soft Bank, moderated the discussion held on 29th June afternoon at the Westin, Kolkata.

Arundhati Bhattacharya’s easy charm was contagious. In a candid chat, she pointed out that women made up 30% in the entry-level bank positions but relatively fell to 4% in senior management. The drop in the curve was due to genuine difficulties faced at the grass-root level i.e. housing problem in the rural areas. Central centers were established enabling women to do assignments in the villages.

Ms Bhattacharya vowed the audience with her one-liners! Some gems from her conversation:
“Be nice and kind to those who form your support system at home, for without them, you can never focus on work,” she advised at one point.
“Replicate yourself, you are not indispensable. Share your knowledge. Let go!” advised the forum’s favourite.
“Your presence should be noted but your absence should not be felt at work,” she stressed.

Ms Indira Jaisingh realising early in her career that ‘Domestic Violence’ was a major issue, which was not addressed by the legal system, took up the cudgels to push to create a new law on Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment at work. Her perseverance led to beautiful crèche being set up in the Supreme Court, which was a boon to young working mothers. Ms. Jaisingh, an entity to reckon with said, ”you must be passionate about what you do, in order to succeed.”

Manisha Girotra unabashedly stated, “We must bring up our sons as daughters in order to change the mindset of society at large.” “When I opted for investment banking 25 years ago, it was a completely male dominated field and I had to endure grueling hours, which wouldn’t have been possible without the unconditional support of my family,” she said. Manisha went one step further stating, “One need not be the primary nurturer. Set your own standards in order to bring the right work-home balance.”

Kiran Uttam Ghosh said she ensured that there was zero tolerance towards sexual harassment in her workplace and encouraged flexible working hours for the female workers. “The meaning of success and failure to me has changed periodically. Today fashion without remuneration excites me. It’s about telling a story- draping a woman in an ensemble which is dramatic and luxurious,” said Kiran.

Breaking the 'glass ceiling' and undoing the conventional truly define the women of today and our panel truly demostrated that success lies in striking the right balance!

An Interactive Session with Shri Subhash Chandra

Speaker: Dr Subhash Chandra, member of the Rajya Sabha and Madhulika Kanoria, LSG President

Venue: ITC

Date: 23rd July, 2018

LSG had the pleasure of hosting Dr Subhash Chandra, member of the Rajya Sabha, founder of Zee television and chairman of Essel group, a business empire of over $10 billion.

Through an interactive session with a house full of LSG members and spouses at the ITC, Dr. Chandra talked candidly on a range of Issues.

LSG President Madhulika Kanoria opened the session with her question first question – “what motivates you to motivate others?” to which he replied that it was his father who inspired him to share the rich experience he has gained in so many years of business, with the youth to guide, empower and encourage them.

Questions from the audience ranged from his views on Education, Media to the future of Television.

His views reflected his philosophy of Living in the Present. Change is present in all spheres of life. Science & technology are constantly evolving, altering society’s tastes, needs and values. Media and television also need to evolve in order to satisfy the various segments of society that they serve.

On education however he hailed the traditional Indian Model of Gurukula education that encouraged individual-based education vis a vis today’s universal education that was propagated by the British. Identifying and encouraging talent is most important. Educating the child at home till five years of age by parents & grandparents goes a long way in their development.

Answering questions on success in his business, he reiterated his firm conviction in the Indian philosophy of living in the present, working with the right attitude and keeping faith in oneself and hard work.

On the difference between manager and entrepreneur, he clarified that a manager will not go beyond a certain limit whereas an entrepreneur takes the risk with his money and future.

His view on Philanthropy- he firmly discourages any charity that undermines the self respect of the beneficiary. He believes in contributing toward building the capacity of the society as a whole to take on challenges.

The Subhash Chandra foundation believes in giving grants to Students on the condition that they in turn give back to society once they have become successful.

In terms of Dr. Chandra's vision of 2025

• Technological changes are going to take place like driver-less car, remedy for cancer etc. New concepts will evolve to make humans self sufficient in all respects.

• Media is indispensable, it’s not trustworthy yet paradoxically it’s the only hope. Media is doing positive work while reporting immediately on rape and other antisocial activities.

His final message to us was ATTITUDE DEFINES SUCCESS.

An Interactive Session with Derek O'Brien and Barkha Dutt

Speaker: Mr Derek O'Brien,a dynamic politician, quiz master and Rajya Sabha MP and Ms Barkha Dutt, TV journalist, celebrated author and Padmasree awardee.

Venue: JW Marriott

Date: 11th August, 2018

LSG hosted and engaged with Mr Derek O'Brien,a dynamic politician, quiz master and Rajya Sabha MP; in a power packed, lively and fun-filled interactive session with Ms Barkha Dutt, TV journalist, celebrated author and Padmasree awardee on 11th August 2018.

Derek confessed that while politics is invigorating, it is uni-dimensional and affects your personal life. Coming from a non-political family, he chose to join Trinamool as Mamata Banerjee had the best shot to oust the communist from Bengal. Congress was out of touch and though BJP had the best outreach he had a deep disconnect with their basic ideology. Being criticised for toeing the party line and not expressing dissent.He said Dissent can take place within the forum but when the party takes a call one has to fall in line.

The face of politics today is 'personality centric' where the party is not open to criticism. However that is dangerous for journalists . Barkha quizzed whether he ever felt a misfit. He admitted that when he failed in class Vll that impacted him. Also, when he decided to become a quiz master and not get to college that was a failure. His third failure was divorce, however that helped make him a better father.

2014 was a brilliant campaign by the BJP. Very easy to sell a product for the first time but they have not delivered hence repurchase won't happen.

Derek's prediction — Modi's 280 seats will come down significantly. Allies share of 52 seats will be impacted - . If Congress gets 100 seats it's easier for Congress and allies to reach 280. Reality is the President will call the party with largest number and then we will form the Govt.

Politics is now post ideology. There was a time when Like minded parties were secular parties.

What would you give Modi credit for? Sartorial sense of Modi is good. Political marketing is brilliant.

In open house Derek and Barkha agreed that we are living in Orwellian times when signals in TV Channels are blocked.

Vote bank politics is a reality, but we have to count on performance, economy, jobs etc.

A Christian boy, he grew up in a Hindu neighbourhood in a lane called Jamir lane, named after a Muslim. This happens only in India and nowhere else in the world, lots to be happy about that.

Session's conclusion: "You are our Derek O'Brien from Jamir lane and this can only happen in India. We love you, for being witty and humane."

Ladies Study Group Delegation in Austria

Venue: Park Hyatt Vienna

Date: 3rd September, 2018

The Ladies Study Group delegation headed by Madhulika Kanoria set off for Vienna on the 3rd of September. We were a group of twelve ladies.

we met the Indian ambassador Ms Renu Pal for tea at the historic Imperial hotel .The ambassador spoke about unique experiences of her career spanning three decades. She said that women of India were exceptionally empowered and could stand out at the international level. Ms Pal then went on to enquire about the background and story behind each member of the delegation.It was indeed a rather candid and enlightening session.

On the 6th of September, we gathered for a study session over breakfast. Then dressed in traditional Indian attire we reached the Federal Chancellery of Vienna in the afternoon. The high point of the trip was meeting the dynamic Sebastian Kurz, Austria's youngest Chancellor. He welcomed us and our president invited him to speak to our delegation. On our question about Vienna being considered 'the best place to live in', he spoke about the various steps Austria had taken, in areas of safety, social security, health, food, water, education etc. The Chancellor also said that Austria was an export oriented nation , and with a 3.2 % GDP growth rate it was one the fastest growing countries in the European Union with very low unemployment rates. He ended by saying that he looked forward to visiting India in 2019. Chancellor Kurz also obliged us by standing in for individual photographs with each LSG delegation member!

The Chancellor was accompanied Ms. Juliane Bogner-Strauß, Federal Minister for Women, Families and Youth and Ms. Margarete Schrambock , Minister of Digital and Economic affairs.The two ministers stayed back for an extended session with us.

They said that 50 % of the Austrian parliament was composed of women . Bogner-Strauß emphasised that many women completed university but relatively few rose to senior corporate positions thereafter. Hence they were specially focussed on supporting women through paid leave after child birth and excellent child care programmes to encourage them to return to workforce and work full time . Shrambock stressed that Austria was working towards making Austria a highly digitised nation, starting with a digitised education system. She said they had achieved high employment numbers due to an unique apprenticeship system that was introduced at the school level. In the programme corporations collaborated with the government offering skill based internships to young students in tandem with school .The minister indicated they were willing to collaborate and help India replicate this system. She also said the Austrian corporations were encouraged to take in a diversified workforce and their diverse contribution often improved the rating of the company. Overall the positive energy was overwhelming!

This Austrian trip will always remain meaningful, significant and colourful in our memories.
- Sreela Mitra

Creativity Needs You All

Speaker: Mr. Piyush Pandey

Venue: The Pala, ITC Sonar

Date: 28th September, 2018

The Ladies Study Group proudly hosted an afternoon with Mr. Piyush Pandey, the man who changed advertising in India, on 28th September 2018 at The Pala, ITC Sonar.

“Advertising must talk to the hearts of the people,” said Mr. Pandey. He went on to say that creativity in art form manifests from inspiration and all that we perceive around us. He strongly believes that in the advertising world one needs imagination with a purpose. He candidly mentioned, “I need you. It is a question of co-relation as I need to talk to you and understand your needs.”

The Ad Guru said his first source of inspiration was his family. He screened his famous advertisements on screen for the enraptured audience i.e. Ponds Cold Cream, SBI Life Insurance, Cadbury Gems, Times of India, Fevikwik and a few others. “It is no rocket science,” stated the Ad Guru. He said, “Keep your eyes and mind open, and your heart respectful to get ideas.”

Mr. Pandey said his second source of inspiration was from travelling. He said he was fortunate to have played cricket, which required him to travel in third class coaches, thereby pushing him to interact with the common man. He strongly advocated that parents should make their children travel, especially within India, a country which is so culturally rich.

A poignant incident in New York will be the inspiration for his future ads. He recalls the taxi driver saying, “My entire village looks after my mother.” The driver had left his mother in the village, while he was earning his bread in New York.

Mr. Pandey said his third source of inspiration was from society. “We present you the familiar in unfamiliar circumstances,” said Mr. Pandey. “The idea of having a child in each one of us, helped with the visual,” said Mr. Pandey. He candidly mentioned that today’s audience wants to relate to the ads, for example the ‘The Hindu’ advertisement showing the chaos in the Parliament session.

The audience threw a volley of questions at the Ad Guru, who took them one by one, with a sense of humility. On being questioned if his advertisement for the BJP Govt: ‘Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar’, made the BJP win the campaign, he candidly answered: “Elections are won at the ground level. I just added the simplicity in their Hindi language.” He said that no technology would work in the digital world if there were no ideas.

The members and guests of the Ladies Study Group were audience to one of the most enlivening talks conducted by the Ad Guru! The LSG members and guests further interacted over tea at the ITC.

Reel Life to Real Life

Speaker: Abhishek Bachchan in conversation with Shoojit Sircar

Venue: Altair Boutique Hotel, Kolkata

Date: 25th October, 2018

Ladies Study Group were audience to one of the most invigorating talks, ‘Reel Life To Real Life’, moderated by a director, Shoojit Sircar and actor, Abhishek Bachchan on 25th October’18 at Altair Boutique Hotel, Kolkata.

Shoojit Sircar opened the dialogue by welcoming the son of a Bengali mother, Jaya Bachchan and Jamai raja, Amitabh Bachchan to the City of Joy. Juniour Bachchan confessed that the Bachchan household has a huge flavour of customs and traditions of Bengal at home and he himself is a fan of the Bengali cuisine, especially the mishti!

Abhishek Bachchan was candid in saying he did not feel the pressure of being a star kid. He said, ”Energies of pressure should be channelized in the right direction.” Shoojit addressed the overwhelming exposure by the paparazzi. Abhishek further addressed the issue of the faceless Internet, which bears no repercussion. In his view, media has no emotion while taking pictures of star children, who have not chosen this lifestyle, thereby having an impact on their psyche.

“I hope the #Metoo Movement I have touched in ‘Pink’, becomes a cleansing process,” said director Shoojit Sircar. Abhishek expressed that we as a society are not ready to handle this storm, as we do not understand the enormity of this oppression.

“There may not be a ‘Rakhi’ festival tomorrow,” said Abhishek. He further added, “Listen, before you judge. We have become a generation of instant gratification.” Shoojit and Abhishek both agreed that society will ‘rethink’ and that is a welcome start.

Abhishek shared that he took a deliberate two-year sabbatical from films to reevaluate and reenergize the way he was working. He candidly confessed, “Complacency is the death of creativity.” They both expressed how great actors, like Amitabh Bachchan go the extra mile to make sure every little nuance and aspect of their character is well fleshed out. Juniour Bachchan unabashedly declared, “Failing publicly is humiliating; to rise again one needs courage & love.” He further added, “Movies to me is a commercial art; once the ticket is bought, I owe the audience, I need to guarantee you entertainment.”

“Films are a business, but for me it is a creative platform,” said director Shoojit Sircar.

At the end, both speakers discussed their passion for sports especially football with utmost zeal.

Both stalwarts answered questions from the curious forum with utmost honesty and humour, which left the Ladies mesmerized by the magical evening. Altair served sumptuous Mediterranean cuisine on the rooftop overlooking the Kolkata skyline.