Book Review: She Walks, She Leads by Gunjan Jain

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” – John Sweeney.

Growing up, we always look at someone to inspire us, to show us the path to walk on, but not how to walk on it. At first, it might be someone very dear to us, like our parents or a teacher. As we get to know stories of leaders, we try to follow in their footsteps.

A budding cricketer might aspire to be like Sachin Tendulkar, or a talented singer might want to reach the heights of Lata Mangeshkar. The known stories might just be an iota of their life. To really know their footsteps and the weight they had on each one, the unknown stories would make the difference. This book looks in detail at the lives of a few inspirational women, and brings to the reader, the lesser known aspects of their life story.

The women featured in the book are Nita Ambani, Rajashree Birla, Sudha Murty, Yasmeen Premji, Parmeshwar Godrej, Indra Nooyi, Chanda Kochhar, Arnavaz Aga, Naina Lal Kidwai, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Zia Mody, Swati Piramal, Priyanka Chopra, Mira Nair, Shabana Azmi, Kareena Kapoor, Anamika Khanna, Ritu Kumar, Jyotsna Darda, Shobhana Bhartia, Indu Jain, Mary Kom, Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal.

To be frank, just by reading the names, the woman and her achievement might not immediately come into the picture for all of them. So it was interesting to read about them through the book. The book also has mini interviews, with people who are close to the women featured, which helped gain a new perspective as well.

Adding to the knowledge we already have, no matter how little, is more engaging. There’s a platform on which to build from. Reading about Sudha Murty’s journey was interesting. I have met her at a book launch, and got her autograph. Her books like Wise and Otherwise, and Gently Falls the Bakula are some I have enjoyed reading for their story and the simplicity in them. Through this book, I got to know about her passion for storytelling. It showed how she played her part in Infosys. Narayana Murty’s interview where he talks about working as friends more than anything else was interesting too.

Being an avid sports fan, I’ve followed the career of Saina Nehwal much before she became the World #1 player in women’s singles, badminton. It was nice to read about the beginning to her story. Her mother’s nickname for her made me smile. I remember the bronze medal match of the London Olympics when former World #1 Wang Xin fell during the match and retired due to that injury. To read that Saina wasn’t thinking of the medal, but of her opponent’s well-being at that time was nice. It’s not something that one thinks of in the heat of the competition at times. I hadn’t known about Sachin Tendulkar being an unobtrusive mentor to Saina, so reading the little master’s interview was wonderful.

The book is a hardbound copy having more than 550 pages. I like that the author has kept the writing simple. That helps, in no small way, to make the book easy to read. It manages to put the spotlight on the achievements of these twenty four women, though for the purpose of this review, I’ve looked at the two I immediately read. The research done is extensive, and it can be seen through the book. I loved the cover art of the book, which is simple, as well as the color photographs panel inside.

I would hasten to add, however, that though the volume is a large one, I do not feel that it’s a comprehensive list of Indian women who have achieved greatness. There are many names yet to be covered. Perhaps more volumes are in the offing. I would like to read stories of women who have risen up to the top battling adversity. They needn’t be names that are very well known, but those whose stories would be worth knowing. That’d add a valuable dimension to a book that seeks to inspire others.

I’d have loved it if it had fewer stories and more volumes. Maybe 12 inspiring women and their stories in each book, taken in volumes, would have made it easier to read. All things considered, I feel this is a book worth reading.


abm_r_8
A score of 8 out of 10
Book Details
Title: She Walks, She Leads
Author(s): Gunjan Jain Genre: Non-Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9780670088850 Publisher: Penguin Viking

No payment was taken for this review. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.


(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
15th September 2016)

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