KOLKATA: Kolkata lit up just a little brighter as the 17th edition of the Devi Awards was held in the city on Saturday night. The awards recognise and honour the accomplishments of women who have, against all odds, made a distinct mark in their fields and contributed to the vision of a thriving and globally competent nation.
Union Minister Smriti Irani, the chief guest, spoke about how society can make way for more women leaders. “Women need no success mantra. Don’t ever doubt yourself, women know how to succeed,” Irani said. Fielding questions with panache, she called for doing away with gender stereotypes across the board.
This year’s recipients were Indian classical dancer Alokananda Roy, social entrepreneur and environmentalist Ekta Jaju, filmmaker Pritha Chakraborty, sustainable fashion influencer Sujata Chatterjee, designers Laldinsangi, Lalsangzeli and Lalrinpuii, entrepreneur and fashion visionary Madhu Neotia, environmental activist Temsutula Imsong, educator and social entrepreneur Parmita Sarma, and lifestyle entrepreneur Ritu Agarwal.
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The evening started with a panel discussion, which included names like Kaveree Bamzai of TNIE Group, and Malavika Banerjee, a handloom revivalist. The discussion did not just talk about the issues of women, but featured a healthy debate about men too. “I think we’re raising well-behaved young boys, and it is time to change the narratives of women for the better,” Kaveree Bamzai said.
Later, the awardees spoke about their stories. While Sarma talked about her green school initiative, Roy shared her experience of reforming inmates through dance.
Introducing Irani to the audience, TNIE Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla spoke about the minister’s journey to success. “I’ve seen her in various roles, but I’ve never known in which role to define her, and catch her. She’s been a saas, a bahu, and a politician. She’s a multi-faceted persona, multi-tasking constantly. She knows so many languages, Punjabi, Hindi, English, Bangla, Marathi and also Gujarati! She was the youngest Cabinet minister in Modi government, and she also held the most important portfolio. In fact, whichever portfolio was given to her, she delivered.
“I went to Amethi where she won, and I thought they would know her from her show
‘Kyunki Saas Bi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. I asked them why they voted for her, and the people came up with a banner which read ‘Smriti Irani, Jhansi Ki Rani’. Because what she’d done for the town is absolutely exemplary,” he said.
The presenting partner for the Devi Awards was Assocham India, platinum partner was RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, associate partners were Kutchina and Senco Gold and Diamonds. Other partners included Air India, Diageo, Le Trove, and Linc Pentonic.