Entrepreneurs' Organization Welcomes Acid Victim Survivor Laxmi Agarwal To Guwahati
G Plus caught up with acid-attack survivor and activist Laxmi Agarwal at a talk show hosted by EO Assam, moderated by Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) winner Vinita Jain.
29-year-old activist and acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, who has become the face of the anti-acid attack campaigns in India, was in Guwahati on Friday, September 13 to share her life’s journey.
She is the recipient of the prestigious “International Women of Courage” award which was presented to her by the former first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama in 2014. She was also elected as “Woman of the Year” by NDTV.
The event was hosted by Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) Assam which is part of the South Asia region and currently boasts 26 members from various sectors like Automobiles, Manufacturing, Steel, Retail, Hospitality and Real Estate, Pharmaceuticals, Education etc.
At the event, Agarwal narrated the horrific incident from 2005 when a bottle of acid was thrown on her face by a then 32-year-old man whose advances she had rejected.
Agarwal verbalized how she went through multiple surgeries, and how slowly and steadily she started a campaign to curb acid sale, which led the Apex Court in 2013 to order the central and state governments to implement the same based on a PIL filed by her in 2006.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Post the acid attack, how were the initial months for you?
At that time, my parents supported me a lot. Everyone left me, including my friends and my relatives. My life was only surrounded by my mother, father and the lawyer who fought for me pro bono to get justice. My lawyer is like my elder sister and stood by me and not to mention my father's boss. These were the four people who were there with me throughout everything and it meant the world to me. So at that point of time, I never thought of doing anything like harming myself. It was only when I saw myself for the first time after the incident that I felt like killing myself.
In your journey so far, you have met many celebrities and leaders who have appreciated you. How was your experience meeting them?
In 2014, I had the opportunity to meet Michelle Obama. Initially, I didn’t react much as I was only nominated for the “International Women of Courage” award, but when the call came in February that I had to be in the United States of America in March, I was breathless as I had never travelled out of my own state and travelling all the way to the USA for 15 days was a big thing.
You have many awards in your name. Do you thing the biopic "Chhapaak" is your greatest award? How were your feelings when you found out that Deepika Padukone will be portraying you?
I humbly respect Deepika Padukone and Meghana Gulzar. In 2016, Meghana Gulzar started talking to me about this project and now Deepika’s photo as me after the acid attack has been aired on social channels. When the first look of the movie came out, I didn’t know as I was sleeping. Then as soon as I opened Instagram, everywhere I could only see the promo of "Chhapaak " featuring Deepika as me.
What are your feelings about seeing your life story on the silver screen?
More than excitement, it is positivity that is lost somewhere among many victims of acid attacks who are suppressed, haven’t raised their voices and are confined to their homes. So when these victims will come out and see the movie, they will definitely feel that "if this lady can do this, why can’t we?" This movie is also a slap in the face to all those criminals who think that after the sins they have committed, acid victims will strangle themselves and die every minute of their lives. Hence, a lot of positive vibes will follow after this movie.
Tell us something about your #StopSaleAcid campaign.
Currently, this campaign is running in the entire world and I request all to spare one minute of their time to post an awareness content on social media about this hashtag campaign because as soon as it becomes viral, the government will notice it and see what’s going on.
What is the reaction of people when they see this kind of campaign?
Many people have come forward and supported us in this noble cause. Even now, shopkeepers who used to sell acid bottles have stopped doing this business to avoid any mishaps. Now, most of the shops have to have licenses to sell these acid-based products. Even senior judges and government officials have become associated with this cause.
Last but not the least, tell us about your daughter Pihu.
My daughter Pihu is 4 years old. I am a single mother and I was in a live-in relationship for sometime after which my partner and I separated. Now in my life, I just have my naughty little daughter who is lovable and also my best friend. After she was born, my childhood came back to me and I got my face back in disguise of her.
Earlier, EO Assam has had the privilege of hosting certain world class speakers in the past including Mr. James Lawrence [USA], Mr. Michael Michalowicz [USA], Professor Dishan Kamdar (ISB), Mr. Ullas Kamath (CFO – Jyothy Laboratories), Mr. Suresh Narayanan (CMD, Nestle India Ltd.), Mr. Pascal Finette as informed to us by Mr Pratik Jain, MD of Jain Group, Board Member - Integration Chair of EO Assam.
Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) is a global organization of 13,000+ business owners with median sales of approximately $5mm per year. Globally, there are 193 chapters in 60 different countries with its headquarters in the United States.
It is the world’s only peer-to-peer network exclusively for entrepreneurs and envisions “transforming the lives of those who transform the world.” The organization is a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who focuses on business growth, personal development and community engagement.