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February - March 2004


The Women's India Association (UK) Gala Dinner

by Krishan Ralleigh

Any social event organised by the Women's India Association (UK) is a momentous one. This year's rendezvous entitled 'Celebration of Talent' at Renaissance London Chancery Court Hotel' was exceptionally memorable one because it seemed that a lot of imagination had gone into the preparation of the event at the tailend of the year, amalgamating Diwali and Christmas celebrations.
One of the oldest organisations of Indian women in Britain (in its 43rd year), the WIA (UK) has grown from strength to strength in achieving its aims and objectives. The gala dinner this year harnessed the artistic prowess of the two budding painters, Ritakshi from New Delhi, India and Sheetal Maisuria from St. Martin's School of Art in London for the causes dear to the Association. The two young artists exhibited several of their paintings and each donated one painting each to auction at the dinner. The proceeds from these auctions are set to go to buy computers for approx. 1100 children being educated at Abdul Faizal Enclave, a small village not very far from New Delhi.

Another interesting and very attractive to the young lasses at the dinner was Shayan's musical rendition of his own songs. The young singer indeed enthralled the audience. To top it all was the ambience in the hall, created by Mark Wheeler, who won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2003 for tropical garden theme

Indian women in their exquisite, colourful saris may look petit and vulnerable. However, in business, politics and social organisations they have proved their mettle. The executive committee members of Women's India Association have shown their hard business acumen with social sensitivity and generosity of heart by channelling thousands of sterling pounds each year to needy children and women in India as well as in Britain.
The chief guests of the evening were Lord and Lady Swaraj Paul. Lord Paul, in his speech was frank enough to acknowledge the contribution of his wife, charming Aruna, towards his success. "Many of you", said Lord Paul, "have unselfishly given your support to your husbands, sons, and daughters at the expense of a professional career. The responsibility of supporting a family and community is a far harder task that creates far greater influences on the world, than going to an office everyday. The strong unity of family is one of the most valuable assets in today's globalised world."
Describing the importance of education, Lord Paul suggested that an educated woman is a model for the family and the society in which she lives. Leaders of community must have personal integrity and honesty. This, said Lord Paul, could only be learnt by the menfolk in the family from their mothers, wives and sisters.
Mrs Neena Duggal, the president of the Association, in her address, explained the contribution of the talented people in making the evening a great success. Shayan, the musically gifted, Ritakshi and Sheetal, the budding painters, Mark Wheeler, the 'flower arrangement' Guru, the comedienne Shazia Marza, and Tony Patti, the DJ that makes you 'shake your hooves' to keep you in trim.
All this great effort was for the sole purpose of raising money. Moreover, for what? "So that", emphasised this charming lady, "we can give time, a sympathetic ear, humour or a helping hand in distress…much violence is based on the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not to be shared." Neena's cry of the heart ended with the philosophical note:"Beauty is that which attracts your soul and that which loves to give and not to receive."
Indeed, beauty in a woman is always in proportion to the degree of compassion in her thoughts and deeds. Last year alone, the WIA (UK) has already presented cheques of substantial amount to the following organisations:

1. Delhi branch of WIA for health projects in and around Delhi
2. Ankur, a children school, in a village near New Delhi
3. Society for the Education of the Crippled (Adult and Children) Mumbai
4. Bhartiya Grahmeen Mahila Sangh
5. Freedom Foundation, Bangalore
6. Shree Gayatri Vikas Mandal, Bharuch Gujrat
7. Commonwealth Countries League (UK)
8. MIND, a charity for the mentally disabled in the UK

What better testimonial can you have about the work of any association?


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