We Rise By Lifting Others

A proud South Londoner of Bangladeshi and Irish heritage, Joy Crookes is a multihyphenate artist shaped by a rich tapestry of influences. She’s a singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist. In 2020, Joy made the prestigious BRITS Rising Star Award shortlist, as well as placing fourth on the BBC Sound Poll, and headlining ‘ones to watch’ lists from YouTube Music, Amazon Music, MTV Push, NME and beyond. Renowned for her live performances, Joy has played Glastonbury, BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Later…With Jools Holland, as well as selling out her own headline tours across the UK and Europe.

WOMEN IN INDIA

Nita Ambani

Nita Ambani is an educationist, philanthropist, businesswoman, patron of arts and sports, and champion of women and children’s rights. Through the various initiatives of Reliance Foundation, of which she is founder and chair, she seeks to empower women in India with resources and opportunities. On International Women’s Day 2021, she launched an inclusive and collaborative digital movement for women called Her Circle. She is the owner of Mumbai Indians, the most successful cricket team in the Indian Premier League, the founder chairperson of Football Sports Development Limited, which launched the Indian Super League, and the head of the Education and Sports for All initiative for children.

 

Through Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, she is committed to making affordable world-class medical care available to all Indians. US magazine Town and Country recognised her as one of the world’s top philanthropists in 2020, and Fortune India has ranked her as India’s Most Powerful Woman.

Photography by the Reliance Foundation 

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NITA AMBANI

I grew up in a small suburb of Mumbai called Santacruz, in what we call a ‘joint family’ in India, with all my aunts and uncles, surrounded by cousins; 11 girls and one boy. We were raised to believe that we could achieve anything we wanted – no goal was too big, no dream impossible. I loved my large family and I was shaped by the strong value system that they ingrained in all of us.


It was my father’s kindness and empathy that shaped me into who I am today. He taught me the most precious principle of life; the ability to care. Another formative memory is of one of my eldest uncles, who was visually impaired. He chose me to read newspapers and books to him every day.

 

The reading would be followed by discussions in which he would encourage me to express my points of view. Even as a child, my opinion mattered. That instilled a lot of confidence in me. It also showed me that caring for others is deeply joyful and rewarding, and that each one of us can help in making a difference for the better in the life of others. I think, as women, and individuals, the freedom to have opinions gives us a level of confidence that can pave the course of our lives.
My earliest role models were the amazing women in my family, starting with my courageous and ever-optimistic mother, my Gandhian grandmother, and my incredible aunts, who were all pathbreaking in their time as swimmers, teachers, and freedom fighters in the movement for India’s independence. These women taught me compassion and resilience. After I got married, I was inspired by my father-in-law, Dhirubhai Ambani, who from being a fuel attendant went on to build an industrial empire from scratch, and my husband, Mukesh Ambani, who has always encouraged me to believe in my dreams. 

Working with children was always my calling. I trained as a teacher after my marriage and started working in a primary school. When Mukesh was setting up a manufacturing site in Patalganga, a huge industrial hub in Navi Mumbai, my father-in-law asked me to set up a school there. And there on, wherever Mukesh started a factory, I started a school! Today, I am overjoyed to be running 14 schools, educating over 78,000 students so far. Nothing gives me more joy than the sight of happy children in a classroom or playground. 

I was 44 when sport came into my life and gave me a whole new perspective and world view. We owned the Mumbai Indians (MI) team in the Indian Premier League, and for two years MI had been at the bottom of the table. In season two, I flew to South Africa to motivate and be with the team.

That’s how it all started in 2009 – from those first team meetings, learning nitty-gritties of the game, living and breathing cricket every single moment!

Mumbai Indians is now the most valuable team in the IPL and the only one to have lifted the trophy five times! As women’s cricket gets more structured, competitive, and engaging, I am sure the day is not far off when we will also have women’s cricket teams in the IPL. 


I think it’s a blessing to be a woman, in any era or age. We are where we are thanks to the fearless and relentless struggles of generations of women before us. So, we owe it to future generations to keep pushing boundaries. There is so much still to achieve. Equal representation and equal pay are important conversations today in every field, be it sport or politics or art or science. Young girls all over the world must be encouraged and supported to follow their dreams. When women have goals and aspirations, they positively impact their families and communities. Through our work at Reliance Foundation, we have seen that every time a woman does well for herself, she has the power to open opportunities for other women too.


Reliance Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries. It was started to formalise what was already a way of life for us – to do good for as many people as possible. With around half of India’s population, over 600 million Indians, being under the age of 25, we believe wholeheartedly in the power and potential of our youth. Through Reliance Foundation, we want to enable and empower all Indians with access, infrastructure, and opportunity so they can dream big dreams and make them all come true. Our aim is to spread hope across the length and breadth of our country, especially amongst the most marginalised and vulnerable communities. 
 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of humanity, inflicting unimaginable despair and uncertainty all over the world. As it spread across continents, our first thought was to do whatever we could to safeguard our people, throughout our country as far and wide as we could. It was not just our collective and patriotic duty, but also our moral and human responsibility towards one another. Within days of the outbreak, Reliance Foundation set up dedicated COVID hospitals treating thousands of patients free of cost. We ran the world’s largest free meal distribution programme by a corporate foundation. Every life is precious, and every little act of care and positivity makes a difference. I am an eternal optimist – I believe that together we can and we will overcome this crisis and every challenge that comes our way.

I think, as women, and individuals, the freedom to have opinions gives us a level of confidence that can pave the course of our lives.