Shallu Jindal talks with You & I
Tell us about your love of Kuchipudi. When did you discover your passion?
I’ve been fond of dancing since childhood, when I began learning Kathak very young, and then continued through school and college, winning several awards. Fourteen years ago, in what I consider an act of providence, I met my gurus – Padambhushan Raja Radha and Kaushalya Reddy – at the lotus-laden feet of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirupati. That’s how I was initiated into the art form. It’s definitely a divine blessing that I became a Kuchipudi dancer in this lifetime.
What about your work as a founder-chairperson of Young FICCI Ladies Organisation (YFLO). What does the role entail?
The post has broadened my horizons, helping me interact with other businesswomen and giving me the opportunity to learn about their inspiring journeys. Activities at YFLO included holding discussions, organising art and cultural events, and deliberating social issues. They helped me become more aware, enabling me to evolve as an individual and as a professional. YFLO has helped me live the motto of my life: “Whatever we do, our time on earth should be meaningful.”
You’re actively involved in issues related to women’s empowerment. Tell us more about that.
Women need to be empowered from a young age. It is the duty of society and parents to instil confidence in them through education and skill development, so that they can become financially independent. We at the JSPL Foundation have set up the O.P. Jindal Community Colleges. They focus on providing vocational training with a special emphasis on women, a big step in giving them the tools to become financially secure and independent. This initiative also includes women’s self-help groups in and around the areas of our operations.
We have also established the Jindal Centre of Arts & Culture in Delhi and Angul, Odisha to give underprivileged girls who love dance the chance to follow their vocations as a career option. The highlight of our women’s empowerment initiatives includes Sshodashi (an affordable sanitary napkin manufacturing and training unit), Sugandhi (an incense manufacturing unit), Chaiti (a food preservation centre), Srujan (a stitching and tailoring unit), Akriti (a centre to produce handmade products), Aparajita (training in masonry), Maa Biraja Federation (making coconut oil), Odifab (a platform that showcases diversified jute products), and Mahila Kalyan Evam Vikash Samiti (production of papad).
In Jharkhand, we have collaborated with Jharcraft to provide training in Zardozi and Kantha work to women, and have even started a unique program for training young tribal girls in athletics and football. The company has also started a number of health awareness programmes for women such as Kishori Express (a mobile unit to spread awareness and improve the health of adolescent girls) and Vatsalaya (which aims to create awareness on health-related issues to ensure safe motherhood). However, a lot more still needs to be done, and we are constantly working towards that goal.
What is your greatest achievement?
I’m a balanced person. This has been made possible through my faith in the supreme power. I am grateful for the abundance of my blessings. Balancing my life as a dancer, mother, wife and daughter-in-law, I believe, has been my greatest achievement in life. Juggling my personal life and professional commitments, and still maintaining an identity of my own, has helped me to grow tremendously as an individual.
How do you manage to do that?
I believe that it’s only when we do what we enjoy that we flourish. Women are great multi-taskers; only we have the strength to juggle so many things and don many roles. I also believe that you live by choice, not by chance. It’s not what you do in life that matters, but how you do it. There are five simple rules for a happy life. Have faith, keep trying, keep it simple, laugh at your problems, and stay as youthful as a child.
..... as told to Niharika