“We first met when we were in the 12th grade, studying at Wilson college. At that point, I was seeing someone else so I would just meet him as a friend when everyone was hanging out together. After 12th he moved to Bangalore to study, and we would end up meeting only once a year but somehow we were always in each others lives. When he moved back, all of our friends had started working but I used to have my evenings free and his internship was very relaxed— so we started meeting alone. By this time we were both single, but the idea of liking him hadn’t even crossed my mind because I’m Hindu and he’s Muslim and it would never work.
I don’t even know how it happened, but we would go for long walks, he would hold my hand and it felt right. We would talk everyday for hours but not one of us had mentioned liking each other. In 2008 his grandfather passed away, so for one week he would barely message and obviously couldn’t meet. That’s when I realised I had feelings for him because I missed him more than I would miss any friend. A few weeks later I asked him what was going on between us, he said – ‘I don’t know what it is, but I think I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’
“When I told her I had feelings for her, I also explained that we would have to go through a lot to convince our families and that there would be times when we would have to fight to make this happen. She would also have to wait for 4 years until I completed my MBA and was settled enough to ask for her hand — she agreed with everything.
4 years later, I decided to tell my parents about her and it was a flat out no. They said that they’ve found a Muslim girl for me to marry. I heard whatever they had to say and said, ‘If I don’t marry her, I won’t marry anyone else because I cannot ruin a 3rd persons life…I won’t ever be able to love anyone else.’ They said that she will marry someone else and won’t wait for me – I said I’m willing to take that chance. This went on for 6 months until they reluctantly said yes.
Meanwhile I went and met her mother who was also very upset with our decision. I told her everything about our relationship, about taking care of her my entire life. I also told her that she wouldn’t have to convert to Islam— she could still follow her own religion. After a few more meetings, her parents were convinced but all of her relatives wanted to meet me as well. I went alone to meet her mama and extended family.
Once our parents reluctantly agreed, we decided to get engaged and believe it or not, our parents met for the first time at the engagement — we were expecting a disaster but it was all very cordial.
A few months later, my father passed away. It was a very trying time and my mother saw that she was such a big support to me and the rest of my family. She began to see what I had seen in her all along. We got married a few months later, respecting both our religions. After so many years, we finally made it happen. It was a difficult process, but easy because from day one I knew that it was her or nobody else.
Today, our families are respecting of our different religions — her family celebrates Eid with us, and our family celebrates all their festivals with them. The love between us managed to break more boundaries than force ever could…and that has been our biggest victory.”
It is the 21st century and India is developing rapidly, however, the pace of development in rural and urban India is varying due to the lack of accessibility and opportunities in rural India. While children in these areas have limited access to quality education leading to unemployment and social exclusion, women are still at the back seat of household decision making and contribution to household income.
To break through the traditional norms and empower women in rural India is an ongoing endeavor. Project Nand Ghar, spearheaded by Vedanta Group, a globally diversified natural resources company, brings a ray of hope to rural India by providing education, nutrition, and healthcare to thousands of rural children and empowering women to gain economic independence through livelihood training workshops.
Nand Ghars are state-of-the-art modern Anganwadis built across rural India with a holistic approach to child welfare and skill development for women. Trade-based skill training workshops carried out at Nand Ghars have impacted women from the remotest part of the country enabling them to earn their own livelihood.
Their recent campaign on International Women’s Day was a celebration of #BalanceForBetter where women shared their stories of discovering pathways to self-reliance with help and support by Nand Ghar.
“The outside world was a far off reality for me from inside the boundary of our house. Nand Ghar helped open up the horizons and today, I am earning a livelihood and have found a purpose in Life,” says Dharma Maurya from Varanasi.
Thousands of women like Dharma Maurya have in them the urge to do something but do not have a platform, to begin with. Nand Ghar is giving them a purpose in life and wings to their dreams. Click on the link below to explore their stories.
Anil Agarwal, Founder, and Chairman, Vedanta Group, believes that a nation can only progress if we invest in the future of children and women. Vedanta in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development aims at constructing 4000 Nand Ghars across 11 states in India with the potential of impacting lives of 8.5 Cr children and 2 Cr women in rural India.
In a milestone achievement, Vedanta recently announced the inauguration of its’ 500th Nand Ghar at Chaksu Block in Jaipur. Today, 502 operational Nand Ghars across Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh are changing the lives of 17,000 children through pre-school learning imparted through advanced teaching with more than 11,000 of them being served nutritious meals every day. More than 8,000 women have obtained trade based skill training at Nand Ghar.
With more than 70% of the population living in rural India, the need for early childhood education and women empowerment cannot be undermined. The Logical Indian appreciates the efforts of Vedanta which is tirelessly working towards transforming the women and child development landscape in India.