Nalini Gangadharan is the name behind CAP Foundation, a non-profit organisation that strives to empower youth with a range of academic, vocational and occupational opportunities. She believes that learning itself needs a different approach. Today she shares with us her beliefs and aspirations
Nalini Gangadharan found her life’s calling way back in school itself. A field trip to a flood relief centre became so ingrained in her psyche that she knew right away what she had to do with her life. With liberal parents, and years later, an equally liberal husband, there was no stopping Nalini.
The atmosphere in her office is reflective of her persona — energetic, powerful and confident. She says, “When you are able to negotiate your spaces, there is so much you can achieve. Unfortunately, though people today are more assertive, the girl child is still not the priority. There are not too many choices that a girl has. If she is not interested in studies, the only option people think they have is to get her married. Even in the rural setup, in case of economic or societal pressure, the first casualty is the girl. We are striving to change that.”
Nalini is optimistic about women’s position in society today. “It feels good to see that women have naturally found their space in various fields, be it in public service, armed forces, aviation or medical science.” But that said, Nalini feels that there’s a flip-side to it too. She says, “Women today are so target-oriented and result-oriented that there is little time to give to the family.
Though many may consider me to be conservative, I believe that the man may be the head of the family, but the woman is the heart of the family. She can don the role of a professional, and at the same time, be a great contributor to the needs of the family. I see that balance dwindling today — relationships are so fragile, they don’t seem to withstand the test of time.”
Nalini strongly believes in the harmonious alliance of a husband and wife in achieving professional and domestic goals. “I have seen my own parents, and the way they challenged and faced obstacles together, to raise a family. I also look up to the great MS Subbalakshmi, who shared a beautiful relationship with her husband. Her ability to co-ordinate her own space made her what she became and was able to spread the warmth of her voice to the world. This is what I call success,” she says with a hint of pride in her voice.
She recalls, “I was a bohemian by nature and did not believe that I am the sort who fits into the popular definition of a married woman. All that changed when I saw the man that would later become my husband.”
Nalini’s organisation, the CAP Foundation has brought back the smiles to many livelihoods and has been spinning success stories in 12 states across the country.