Rachna Dhingra wins an India Today Woman Award

From India Today – Jan 15: From social entrepreneur Sister Mythili, who came in a wheelchair from Kerala to savour her moment of glory, to Rachna Dhingra (far left), who has become the face of the fight for justice for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, women achievers who have given us reasons to cheer in times of gloom on January 14, 2011 received the India Today Woman Awards from Mariane Pearl-who has come to symbolise the all-consuming power of hope-and India Today Group chairman and editor-in-chief Aroon Purie.

Krishna Poonia, the discus thrower who struck gold at the Commonwealth Games, spoke of following her passion to achieve the impossible. Bharti Kher, who made headlines after she became the first woman artist in India to net over a crore in an international auction, advised women to “start from home” if they wished to change the world.

Reality game show Kaun Banega Crorepati‘s first woman crorepati Rahat Taslim dedicated her award to her husband for letting her “get this far”. And the first Indian woman to set foot on Antarctica, oceanographer Aditi Pant, gave the credit to her parents, “who supported me in all my decisions, whether good or bad”.

The reactions were as mixed as the women who studded the dais for the final photo shoot. In a speech read out on behalf of foreign secretary Nirupama Rao by her husband and former Karnataka chief secretary Sudhakar Rao, the country’s premier diplomat dedicated her award “to all women in government services who have struggled over the past decade to perform their tasks meticulously”.

It was a time for celebration, but it was also a moment for deliberation. As Peepli [Live] director Anusha Rizvi reminded the audience: “It is a story that does not have an end but all of us wish to end it. It is only when we do something that change happens.”

The women of Bhopal, as Dhingra reminded us, have done it over the past 26 years. The message of the evening was loud and clear. This decade belongs to women – they are the new change leaders.

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We believe Dow & DuPont must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.