RITU MENON, 54PublisherRitu Menon, PublisherThe glass ceiling lies in shards in the publishing world. Twenty-five years ago publisher Ritu Menon cofounded Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing press, with Urvashi Butalia. They wanted “a forum that gave women a voice”. Currently, Menon heads Women’s Unlimited, an associate of Kali,RITU MENON, 54PublisherRitu Menon, PublisherThe glass ceiling lies in shards in the publishing world. Twenty-five years ago publisher Ritu Menon cofounded Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing press, with Urvashi Butalia. They wanted “a forum that gave women a voice”. Currently, Menon heads Women’s Unlimited, an associate of Kali that discovers and publishes women writers from all over South Asia. “Women’s writing has greater visibility today. Even though a bias against women remains, within the literary circle things have definitely changed,” says Menon. Her tryst with literature began well before her days as a literature student at Miranda House. Keeping true to her cause, Menon is now co-authoring (with Kalpana Kannabiran) a book on violence against women, From Mathura to Manorama.SARIKA SEHRAWAT, 28RallyistSarika Sherawat, RallyistHer first rally was the sub-Himalayan car rally in 2002 where she came ninth out of 14 contestants. Fully charged, Sarika Sehrawat drove on. In 2005, this Venkateshwara College and Fore School of Management graduate topped the women’s category in both the Maruti Suzuki Desert Rally and the gruelling Raid de Himalaya Rally. A member of the JK Tyre woman’s rally team, Sehrawat is currently preparing for her upcoming wedding as well as the Raid de Himalayan rally due in October. “I’ve won the rally for the past two years and am aiming for a hat trick,” she says. Sehrawat has come a long way from the time when she had to persuade her family to let her rally. Today, her brother acts as her manager. Operating in a male-dominated arena, she has faced her share of woman-bashing. “There have been times when people have said that it is easy for me to get sponsors because I am a woman,” she says, “but I’ve worked hard to get where I am today.” Will marriage put on the brakes? “No. My fiance is a car modifier and we intend to run a sports management company that will focus on organising and popularising motor sports in India,” she says. Thumbs up to this professional union.DR DEEPIKA DEKA, 50Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, AIIMSadvertisementDr. Deepika Deka, Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, AIIMSDr Deepika Deka’s warm smile can put the most anxious mother-to-be at ease. As a gynaecology and obstetrics professor at AIIMS, she has not only witnessed hundreds of births, it is her job to ensure that the babies emerge healthy and safe. Deka’s specialisation is maternal foetal medicine, which involves providing care for both mother and foetus in complicated pregnancies. From saving the life of a healthy foetus by sacrificing its abnormal twin to using very fine needles to operate inside the womb, her high-risk cases force Deka to think out of the box constantly. “I have been performing this type of surgery since 1989 and every case poses a new challenge. Being a woman and mother, I understand the stress that goes with pregnancy and being able to help women during this time fills me with pride,” says the good doctor.TRIPTA KHURANA, 57Chief Architect, DMRCTripta Khurana, Chief Architect, DMRCFor someone who had to be cajoled to study architecture, Tripta Khurana’s career has shaped up nicely. As the chief architect of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Khurana leads a team of eight in planning metro stops, ensuring smooth passenger flow and beautifying the stations. At the moment, the team is busy finalising the layout of the 60 new stations that will come up across the NCR. Khurana got her architecture degree from the School of Planning and Architecture in 1970 and went to work at Himachal University and the CPWD. Thirst for more knowledge saw her return to SPA in 1992 for a postgrad in Urban Design. The Metro deputation in 1998 wasn’t planned but very welcome. There’s a palpable excitement in the architect’s voice as she says, “When the first section of the Metro opened and the train whistled, there was a huge sense of pleasure that our efforts had materialised.”ANJUM CHOPRA, 29CricketerAnjum Chopra, CricketerShe is the best-known face of Indian women’s cricket, a former captain and a long-standing pillar of the national side. Anjum Chopra made her debut for the Indian women’s team in 1995 and after more than a decade of international cricket behind her, wants to be best known for her stylish left-handed batting and competitive spirit. She has played in 12 Tests and 101 ODIs (incidentally, the highest notched up by an Indian woman player), including two World Cups. She was also part of the Indian team that made it to the final of the 2005 Women’s World Cup. Along with stalwarts like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, Chopra was a key member of the Indian team which scored its first-ever Test series win in England in 2006. For her standout performances, Chopra was one of the nominees for the ICC’s first-ever Women Player of the Year award. She became better known to vast swathes of the general public as a cricket expert on television commenting on the men’s game, her insightful views coming as a welcome change from the role normally given to women on cricket broadcasts: as clothes hangers or eye candy.SAMITA RATHOR, 35CartoonistadvertisementSamita Rathor, CartoonistOne of the few female cartoonists in the country, Samita Rathor’s powerful cartoons don’t just bring on a smile, they also force people to stop and think. An artistic bent of mind inherited from her mother Minu (who used to run theatre workshops) and a workshop by cartoonist Ponnappa led Rathor to take up freelance cartooning. Says this co-founder of the group Cartoonists Unanimous, “Animals are the pet subjects of my creations. I also like to work with social and environment issues.” Last November saw her showcasing 20 of her animal-themed works at an exhibition organised by the World Wildlife Fund in Delhi. Besides being an editorial cartoonist for niche magazines like Education World and Civil Society, Rathor has illustrated a humorous book, Things that make me go hmmm.ALIA GULATI, 28DJAlia Gulati, DJThe tables are turning all right. Spinning a new groove theory in the lounge circuit is disc jockey Alia Gulati. After moving to Delhi four years ago from London, Gulati pursued photography before switching to full-time DJing. “I knew I would indulge in music at some point in my life,” she says. Bringing an element of novelty to the game as a woman DJ, Gulati knows that she has to strive to survive in a profession that is generally considered a male monopoly. “I play music that I like listening to,” she says belting out clubby music with a house beat or world music with an electro lounge mix. Influenced by black music and funk, Gulati prefers music that “is not too produced and not with too much noise.” She played at Nashaa before it was sealed. Now she spins at the new resto-lounge Tabula Rasa, a perfect breeding ground for suave clubbers and gourmets who like their music as the main course.NALINI THAKUR, 54Conservation ArchitectNalini Thakur, Conservation ArchitectDelhi can become a world heritage city. As one of the fantastic historic cities in the world, it is on par with Rome.” Heartening. More so when the comments come from conservation architect Nalini Thakur. Ever since she moved from Madras to Delhi in 1970 to study architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, Thakur has been working to protect and conserve heritage sites and enlighten people about their heritage. Associated with the SPA for years, first as a student and then working in various departments, Thakur has worked on several conservation projects such as INTACH’s Delhi Chapter on re-discovering Mehrauli, the concept of archaeological parks like Champaner-Pavagadh in Vadodara and Manipur’s Kangla Fort. Today, as a professor with SPA’s department of Architectural Conservation, she feels, “As long as there is heritage, there is work.” And there’s a long road ahead.TANIA SACHDEV, 20Chess PlayeradvertisementTania Sachdev, Chess PlayerTania Sachdev is a typical college student. The 20-year-old hangs out on Orkut, indulges in endless phone calls, loves to shop and goes to the movies. In between, she does her “Venky College” English literature tutorials. Yet Sachdev is not quite your girl next door. As the national chess champion and a Woman Grandmaster ranked 14th in the under-20 age group, she needs to juggle her time better than her peers. Ever since she won the Commonwealth age-group title as a seven-year-old, she has done up to 10 months of annual globetrotting. She won five age-group titles at the 1994 British Championships. At 12, she won the national title, at 16 she was Asian Junior champion. At 18, she became a WGM. Though chess swallows most of her time, she intends to do her MBA. And, yes, she does nurture ambitions to move further up the rankings ladder.WOMEN GUARDS, 25-35Vision Security GroupWomen Guards, Vision Security GroupWhen women take charge of security, you know times have changed. All over the city, in hospitals, in BPOs and even outside the homes of the rich and famous, there are young women in blue standing guard. These women are part of the 500-strong force of women employed with 24 Secure, a new wing of the eight-year-old security company, Vision Security. Says Kiran Tiwari, who supervises the women guards at Fortis, “It is a great feeling to know that you help someone feel secure.” Tiwari’s team member Seema Sinha, 30, has a bachelor’s degree in Sanskrit from Patna University. She says, “No one here is uneducated. We are all qualified women who are proud to serve here.” Some powerpuff girls these.MRINALINI MUKHERJEE, 56SculptorMrinalini Mukherjee, SculptorDaughter of Santiniketan artists Benode Behari and Leela Mukherjee and educated in the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda and the Royal College of Art, London, Mrinalini Mukherjee is considered one of India’s most exciting sculptors. Be it her rope-knitted sculptures of the past or her more recent ceramics and bronze castings, Mukherjee’s creative concerns are inspired by nature and organic forms. Her work displays a sensual delicacy that has captivated artists and collectors from Delhi to London.GAGAN GILL, 38PoetGagan Gill, PoetHindi poet and writer Gagan Gill wishes to secure “long periods of silence in her everyday life” that she considers necessary to be “truly connected to words”. Gill has worked as a literary editor, was a visiting writer at the International Writing Program in Iowa and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She has published four collections of poetry and one volume of prose. These cover a range of subjects from the gamut of female experiences to the theme of sorrow in human existence and the enigma of desire.