Business Today

The most powerful women in Indian business

     Print Edition: September 18, 2011

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree… From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet... I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest...
Sylvia Plath,
The Bell Jar, 1963


For generations, the choice between the domestic idyll and a career has been the unique dilemma of women.

This issue of Business Today celebrates those who have tackled it head-on. There have been sacrifices: being unable to meet a dying father, delaying marriage, getting little time with children. But BT's eighth annual list of the Most Powerful Women also tells stories of dreams come true. The 56 women featured in these pages not only chose their figs, but also planted trees and saw them blossom.

The list of the 25 Most Powerful Women is followed by one of 25 to watch out for. There is also a discussion on why many women quit their careers and an article on what makes a successful businesswoman.

Ajoy Bose writes on Mayawati's politics, and Rama Bijapurkar on why there are so few women on boards. There is also an interview with Ripa Rashid, co-author of a book on the role of women in emerging markets.

The package opens with the Hall of Fame, featuring six women who have made it to the Most Powerful Women list for the past seven years. BT Associate Editor Shweta Punj spoke with them.

Their group photo has its own back story. After scores of phone calls, BT fixed a time for the shoot in Mumbai. Some rescheduled engagements, and one chartered a jet. As if juggling six schedules was not complicated enough, a bandh was suddenly declared. Fortunately, it was called off, and everything worked out. The picture, like the women themselves, is for real.

MOST POWERFUL WOMEN - HALL OF FAME
(Click on their names to know their success story)
Naina Lal KidwaiSwati Piramal
Chanda KochharShikha Sharma
Kiran Mazumdar-ShawMallika Srinivasan
OTHER MOST POWERFUL WOMEN
(Click on their names to know their success story)
Aruna JayanthiZia Mody
Nandita GurjarRoopa Kudva
Chiki SarkarZarina Mehta
Renu Sud KarnadVinita Bali
Jyotsna SuriLeena Nair
Meena GaneshVinita Gupta
Kirthiga ReddyShobhana Bhartia
Ekta KapoorPreetha Reddy
Falguni NayarVishakha Mulye
Archana HingoraniKalpana Morparia
Ashvini YardiVedika Bhandarkar
Nita AmbaniRenuka Ramnath
Ashu Suyash

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