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choices

journeys

REACHING

OUT

Recognising the need to find her own identity, Varsha Goel decided not to conform to the defined role. She has established aan NGO, Attitudinal Awareness in Soc Society, which works to change the ‘ne ‘negative attitude’ of people. By Priyanka Chakrabarti

ntil 2005, Varsha Goel led the simple life of a housewife and a mother of two sons, who took pride in supervising her family. But things changed when one day she went to drop her sons to school. “At the school, when mothers of other kids were introducing themselves, I noticed that everyone was a working professional – one was a proud doctor, the other a successful banker and when it came to me, I introduced myself as a homemaker; I could feel that my son was disappointed. Even when I would accompany my husband to parties or gatherings, he would often feel uncomfortable introducing me as his ‘housewife’. That is when I went on a self-

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introspection voyage and questioned myself. I had education and talent, so why waste it, I thought,” she avers. In an attempt to create an identity for herself and to encourage others, she ventured into the sector of social service and took the task of encouraging women who have potential but do not tap it either because of lack of opportunities or their wrong attitude. Today, known for being the founder of AAS (Attitudinal Awareness in Society), a

“Over the years I have realised that the root cause of all problems is the wrong attitude of people in our society.” Goel’s NGO’s main focus is spreading of attitudinal awareness in society.


“Housewives often trap their talents under heavy blankets of countless social and homely obligations.” The NGO recently gave Housewives Awards to felicitate the most important unit of the family.

non-profit organisation, Goel has come a long way. “Doing something for society has always been the mission of my life. Over the years I have realised that the root cause of all problems is the wrong attitude of people in our society. You may hear people cribbing and complaining, always talking about the problems but you will never hear anybody speaking of solutions. If the deep-rooted negative attitude can be transformed, then 50 per cent of the battle is already won. We need action and that too instantly,” says the 48-yearold social activist. AAS focuses primarily on current social issues. “At present we are putting the spotlight on the negative effects of cancer, especially amongst women. I often meet people who have been detected with cancer and I’d observed how the diagnosis itself would lead to people losing heart and hope in life – but a positive attitude is exactly what is required to beat such a disease. Another trend I noticed amongst housewives is that they put their health at the end of the priority list and refuse to take tests; they want their husband and children to be in the best of health but when it comes to their own health, they seem to ignore it. We are thriving hard to change this attitude,” she says, while talking about how a healthy woman is responsible for a healthy family. Recently, Goel organised an award ceremony for housewives, recognising that it is they who form an integral part of society. “Housewives often trap their talents under heavy blankets of countless social and homely obligations. They could be great entrepreneurs, singers, artists, activists even while staying home, but do not go ahead because of their lack of confidence. I tell them, you are not Mrs Sood or Mrs Agarwal, you have your

own identity, and I will help you find it! A woman needs her due respect and housewives are an integral part of our society and hence the felicitation,” says Goel, who also writes, indulges in debates and is a thinker. According to her, a happy and healthy society can only be formed with the right mindset. “First change your attitude, focus on health and then wealth will eventually follow,” she smiles. A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Goel has been blessed with worldly riches since her childhood yet she remains down-to-earth and works hard to uplift lives of many. She has inherited this quality from her father: “My father was into politics and I have seen him work at the grass-roots level.” After getting married to chartered accountant Virendra Kumar Goel, her life has only steered towards higher planes. Her elder son Varun is presently completing his post graduation in GIS (Geography Information System) from University of Illinois, USA and the younger one Vishesh is a chartered accountant, working with Ernst & Young. Having married into a conservative Marwari family, Goel did face obstacles, “But recently, in an interview, my mother-in-law told a journalist that she is proud of me. That was one of the happiest moments of my life,” she recalls. In 2009, Goel wrote her first book in Hindi titled Khud Se Do Baatein. “This book documents short stories from different chapters of my life that left a profound impact on me. When the book was launched, I remember my dad came, although he was very weak. He said he was proud of me and I am not his daughter but his son.” While Goel took his comment in a positive spirit, she looks forward to the day when being a daughter itself would be source of pride for a parent. •

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REACHING OUT  

A write up on Varsha Goel, President AAS Published in May 2013 issue of Atelier Diva magazine.