Dynamic, Dignified & Determined

By on October 18, 2019
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DAME INDIRA PATEL turned the memories of her widowed mother's misery into a stronghold of change for women around the world

Dame Indira Patel’s commanding presence fills a room. Tall, statuesque, impeccably attired in an elegant purple saree coupled with exquisite traditional jewellery, her persuasive and vibrant voice clearly spells out that she is a force to reckon with. After all, thanks to her herculean efforts, she has changed the lives of many women across the globe – earning her two premier British honours: an Order of the British Empire (OBE) at the hands of Prince Charles in 1998 and a knighthood, with the title of Dame, from the Queen of England in 2011. Princess Anne presided over the formal induction ceremony.

Born and educated in Kenya, Indira strafed the feminist front when she saw her young widowed mother face unfair and cruel treatment at the hands of the local community, as well as the family she had married into. She was obliged to wear drab clothes and no jewellery; she could not smile or appear happy; she was not permitted to attend auspicious occasions. “She was blamed for the untimely death of my father when she was in no way responsible for his medical ailments,“ Indira explains, relaxing in the majestic drawing room of her palatial three-storey mansion at Aldeia de Goa, Bambolim. “It bothered me as a child of 11 to see her treated thus; it was both discriminatory and hurtful. I vowed from then on to fight against such barbaric biases and prejudices.”

Indira was a school-teacher in East Africa when she married her husband Bhanu, a structural engineer with a Midas touch for lucrative real estate dealings, and bore two sons. After the despot Idi Amin launched his pogrom against Indians in Uganda in 1972, the Patels correctly assessed the writing on the wall: they decided to abandon Kenya and settle in the United Kingdom. Besides managing the family business interests alongside Bhanu and raising her children, Indira trained her sights on voluntary work within local ethnic communities at the grass roots level.

Read the full article in 'Viva Goa' magazine copy.

Viva Goa magazine is now on stands. Available at all major book stalls and supermarkets in Goa.

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