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Indian-origin women at the helm of affairs all over the world
PRAVASI TODAY profiles some of the most prominent Indian-origin women who have been praised for their works in different fields:
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, whose forefather came at Port of Spain from India as an indentured labourer is the first woman prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago after the political alliance led by her emerged victorious and ended the ruling partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 43 years in power. Persad-Bissessar, who was born April 22, 1952, was a topper in law school and did her masters in business administration and diploma in education from the University of the West Indies. She was the first woman attorney general and also served as minister of legal affairs as well as minister of education. Her forefather was among the 148,000 Indian labourers who were brought here between 1845 and 1917 to work on sugar and cocoa plantations. Persad-Bissessar, who has represented her Siparia constituency for 15 years, had held the reins of power during the absence of then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday. She has become the first woman to lead any political party in oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago. Her meteoric rise began Jan 24 last year when she successfully challenged her mentor, Basdeo Panday, for the leadership of the United National Congress which he had founded 20 years ago.
PepsiCoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s India born chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi has unarguably created waves in the world of business. She was number one on Fortune magazineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s US list for the fifth year in a row.Ã‚Â In her fifth year atop the list, Nooyi completed the purchase of PepsiCoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two largest bottlers, bringing revenues to a projected $60 billion. She is an Indian-born American executive and is the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Incorporated. Nooyi was named on Wall Street Journal’s list of 50 women to watch in 2007 and 2008, and was listed among Time’s 100 Most Influential People in The World in 2007 and 2008. Forbes named her the #3 most powerful woman in 2008. On the 7th of October 2010 Forbes magazine ranked her the 6th most powerful woman in the world.
Nikki Haley, the daughter of Sikh immigrant parents from Amritsar, created history as she is the first woman governor of South Carolina and the first Indian American woman to take the top state office. At 38, the mother of two is the second Indian-American governor of a US state after Louisiana Governor Bobby. Born in Bamberg, S.C., the daughter of Indian immigrants, NikkiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first job was keeping the books for her familyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clothing storeÃ‚Â -Ã‚Â at the age of 13. She went on to graduate from Clemson University with a B.S. degree in accounting and, following her graduation, worked as Accounting Supervisor for the Charlotte, N.C. based corporation FCR, Inc. and five of its subsidiaries. Nikki then went back to the family business where she helped oversee its growth into a multi-million dollar operation.
Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indian American author. Lahiri’s debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name. Acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian American author Lahiri has been appointed as a member of President Barack ObamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Kalpana Chawla (July 1, 1961 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ February 1, 2003) was an Indian-American astronaut with NASA. She was one of seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Kalpana Chawla joined the NASA astronaut corps in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1998. She spoke the following words while travelling in the weightlessness of space, “You are just your intelligence”. She had traveled 10.4 million km, as many as 252 times around the Earth. Her first space mission began on November 19, 1997 as part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian-born woman and the second person of Indian origin to fly in space, following cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma who flew in 1984 in a Soviet spacecraft.