The Luna Gusta on the 37th floor of The St Regis Hotel, Mumbai, with its huge windows letting in stream of soothing sunlight and offering a stunning view of the city, was the venue for a heartfelt event organised by the Ladies’ wing of the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Titled Utsahati, which translates to mean ‘Encourage’, it was a salute to the brave heart acid attack survivor, Lakshmi Agarwal.
With her display of unbridled courage on the face of life-altering crisis that devastated her life, Lakshmi Agarwal has certainly become a role model for women across the globe today. A victim of a dreaded acid attack when she was only in her seventh grade, Lakshmi didn’t let the terrifying incident bog her down and rose from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix to set an example for others having faced similar predicaments in their lives.
Over a dynamic panel discussion with some important people like Iulia Vantur, Amit Sadh, Sangita Jindal, Malti Jain, Shreyasi Goenka, Prakruti Podar, Rajalaxmi Rao, Zeba Kohli, Mukita Jhaveri, Vanita Bhandari and more, Lakshmi touched everyone’s hearts when she recalled the tormenting incident and how it changed her persona for the better. She narrated, “When I was attacked, I was the one who was blamed. Society left me, from my extended family to so-called friends, people were scared to look at me. I did not get a job at a call centre because they thought people would be scared to even speak to me. Even though the one who attacked me was a criminal, I was made to feel like the criminal. In fact, my attacker came out on bail in a month and even got married. It is a very painful life for acid attack survivors because it is an attack on the entire family. I was a simple girl, with simple dreams but the attack changed my life.”
Looking on the brighter side of things, the eternal optimist added that in a lot of ways, it made her who she is today—a confident girl, who has no fears.After all, by her own admission, she managed to turn something ugly that happened to her into a movement in support of acid attack victims. “I urge everyone here to help rehabilitate acid attack victims, accept them, acceptance as a society is all they need to become invincible,” she appealed to those present.
Nayantara Jain, President of The Ladies’ Wing of IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, felicitated Lakshmi for her courage and determination and insisted on educating our children, especially our sons, to respect women.
The Guests of Honour at the afternoon tea event were Dr Marshall Goldsmith, an American award-winning author and world-renowned business educator and coach and Dr Huzaifa Khorakiwala, Executive Director of Wockhardt Limited, and CEO of the Wockhardt Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, which runs several programmes in health, education, water and sanitation across the country.
The event was brilliantly moderated by Arti Gupta Surendranath, Chairperson of Awards Committee for IMC Ladies’ Wing. Though the event saw the presence of several celebrities and prominent people of the society, in our eyes, Lakshmi Agarwal was the true star that afternoon!