Asad and Huma Latif, together with the Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad and You & I felicitated Padma Shri Begum Bilkees Latif at a five course sitdown dinner on December 20, 2015, along with Air Chief Marshal Idris Latif, grandson Rahim and the who’s who across the nation and several from overseas.
The gorgeous 101 Dining room with the longest dining table was exquisitely adorned with vases of red Danish roses, gold leaf, gold candles, and silver candelabras. Throughout her life, Begum Latif delight and dedication has been to improve the life of others. She has also personally brought about peace twice, in very disturbed areas, using Gandhian methods. Her focus has been on helping others to stand on their own, education with good values, communal harmony and national integration.
In 1983 she decided that the slums were where she needed to concentrate since so many others were just walking away saying the problem was too large and the hurdles impossible to overcome. She hence created an NGO, SHED (The Society for Human and Environmental Development), an organisation of the people, many in need themselves.
Begum Bilkees Latif was awarded the Padma Shri, National Unity Award, the Women’s Service Award, the International Lions and many other honours for the vast and extensive social work that she has done throughout her life and also what SHED, has achieved in uplifting the lives of those less fortunate over the last 33 years in the slums of Dharavi, Kalina, Jogeshwari, etc.
The general manager of the Taj Falaknuma, Girish Sehgal together with his lovely wife Surabhi were perfect hosts ensuring the evening was special in every way. Girish and Maneck Dawar made speeches appreciating Begum Latif's tireless efforts, after which Rahim, Begum Latif's grandson spoke indicating how Begum Latif had played such an important role in his life. Aaryan mesmerised the audience with his delightful heartfelt melodies, and the evening ended with the soulful sounds of a delightful Qawwali performance.