Ela Bhatt

Ela Bhatt

Founder SEWA (Self Employed Woman's Association)

पुरन्दरश्री: पुरमुत्पताकं प्रविश्य पौरैरभिनन्द्यमान:। भुजे भुजंगेंद्रसमानसारे भूय: स भूमेर्थूरमाससञ्ज।।(Raghuvansham II.74)

Endowed with the prosperity of Indra, having entered the city decorated with flags and being complimented by (his) people, he once again assumed the weight of governing the Earth, on his shoulders – possessing the strength of the Lord of serpents!

In this last part of Canto II of Raghuvansham, through the beautiful description of King Dilip’s return from the service of his Guru in the forest, we are told what Leaders are celebrated for. The entire ecosystem of the organization rests on the ceaseless work of its Leader – directed towards accomplishment of its Vision – that is what is expected of the Leader and that indeed, is the source of his/ her strength – youth is not!

Ela Bhatt is a pioneer of so many movements in India and she continues to live her purpose each day, but such is the silent impact of her actions that people may believe that some of these always existed. Greatly influenced by her grandparents (involved in the Dandi March) and then her own parents, she placed her fullest faith in the practice of Gandhian principles. Among the earliest practising woman lawyers, she used her knowledge and passion to bring together three movements – The Labour movement, the co-operative movement and the woman’s movement – when she started SEWA (Self Employed Woman’s Association) in 1972. SEWA in turn spawned tens of other sister organizations to help create outstanding self-reliance systems for marginalised woman workers of all types – also giving rise to self-help groups and microfinance movements when these terms were barely known. Ramon Magsaysay Award, Padmabhushan, Member of Rajya Sabha (and tons more) are minor milestones of this saga of Sterling Leadership!

How are you ensuring that your plans and actions – immediate and long term, are raising the self-esteem and the capabilities of your people?