"The Album Pranaam is the product of a very unique cross-cultural synthesis, in which the Eastern traditions are confronted by Western modernity."

Monsoon Trio consists of saxophone-playing brothers Jonathan & Andrew Kay and bass veena artist Justin Gray. Over the past 9 years, the trio has been studying traditional North Indian classical raga music in Kolkata, India, under their Guru, Pandit Shantanu Bhattacharyya. This innovative journey has lead to Justin designing and co-creating the “Bass Veena”; a modified fretless bass with additional supportive strings, as well as Jonathan’s development of the “Shrutiphone”; a modified non-tempered saxophone.Monsoon Trio's debut album Pranaam  is the first CD to document the collective performance of vocal and instrumental styles of North Indian Classical music on modern western instruments. The term "Pranaam" describes an offering of the highest respect as an act of complete surrender. 

How would you describe the sound of your album Pranaam?

‘Pranaam’ is the jugalbandi presentation of pure North Indian Classical music on western instruments. It is the culmination of Andrew, Justin and my (Jonathan) journey into North Indian Raga music which started 10 years ago when we visited Kolkata and began traditional training together in the Guru-Shishya Parampara with our Guruji, Pandit Shantanu Bhattacharyya. We have performed Raga music together countless times in India and North America and wanted to document this collective journey.

'Pranaam' contains 5 of the grand North Indian Ragas, Bhairav, Shree, Jaijaiwanti, Malkauns and Bhairavi, all accompanied by Subhajyoti Guha on tabla and Shayna Kay on tanpura. Rendering the Ragas on our western instruments was a learning process that greatly challenged us, eventually inspiring innovations and technical developments to our instruments to overcome the difficulties of expressing the subtitles of the Ragas. Under the mentorship of our Guruji, as well as luthier, Les Godfry, and woodwind repair technician, KevinRohm, this lead to the creation of Justin's ‘Bass Veena’ from a fretless bass and the ‘Shrutiphone’ from my tenor and soprano saxophone.

Recorded by Justin at my family cottage in Northern Canada, this was a live recording which allowed us to be interactive and intuitive in the moment, which greatly enhanced the mood and feel of the recording.

What characterizes your music philosophy?

What would the act of giving Pranaam to your Guru sound like if it was a flowing stream of music? To me, a Raga is a musical offering to the Guru, and a prayer to the whole tradition of the Guru consciousness. The Ragas have been passed down from Guru to Shishya since the ancient times until present day and therefore there can be no separation of the Raga from the Guru. The Guru is a channel of the greater Raga consciousness, and their task is to encourage and cultivate the spirit of the Raga consciousness within the Shishya, as to awaken the presence of the inner Guru, which psychically guides the progress of the student until realization.

The lineage of the Gurus have followed this system which has lead generations of disciples to mastery of the elements that make up a Raga; Swara and Laya. As a raga sadhaka, one who is undergoing the spiritual discipline of Raga music, I constantly find myself striving towards the perfection of these elements in any given Raga and Tala, and I have learned to overcome the intimidation or fear of the infinite heights this journey demands. As the quest for Swara and Laya is so sublime and endless how can one even begin to imagine perfecting what is infinite in nature? Embracing this paradox and overcoming its duality is the whole philosophy of the sadhana set before us. As our being becomes in harmony with the life of Raga sadhana, and the Ragas become natural reflections of our life-movements, we begin to experience degrees of identity with the Raga entities, a platform where these apparent paradoxes become superficial appearances of a greater power and the dualities merely two sides of one coin. The power contained in the Ragas stems from the discipline of confronting this paradox, transforming our limitations, and transcending beyond the individual into that of a universal Oneness.

Is your creative composition in blending two traditions a spontaneous process or you conceive this intellectually?

We have given a lot of importance to the cultivation and development of what is originally rooted in our jazz music background and central to our mode of musical interaction; the ‘collective consciousness’. This can be intellectually stimulated but is deeply intuitive in essence. Although not commonly a part of the ‘soloistic’ nature of Indian classical music, where the soloist is part of an intricate hierarchical web which includes other accompanying musicians, our experience of playing creative improvised music together for the past 15 years has shown us the power and importance of connecting to the ‘collective consciousness’.

By carefully maintaining the strict teachings of our Guru and working within the cultural framework and etiquettes of the North Indian Classical music tradition, we have found a unique and inspiring mode of collaboration, wherein the individual surrenders into that of the greater collective, where the psychic connection between the collective and that of the source, the Raga, can more harmoniously blend into one unified movement of integral development. We believe this is the only way to a meaningful Raga collaboration, and was realized in the timeless jugalbandis of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Training under the same Guru source plays an indispensable role in collectively assimilating and creating a deeply harmonious Raga language on any given day. This also supports our experience that the Raga consciousness is rooted in an objective reality which is to be individually realized by the collective members and harmoniously interwoven into one musical entity that in actuality is greater than the sum of its parts.

What is your most favored Raga/composition on this new album?

This album contains the Ragas which have grown closest to us over the years of our sadhana. There can be no comparison in terms of better or worse between Ragas as each offers a unique and personal relationship to the artist or listener that matures and over time. Just as a Mother loves all of her children, the Raga sadhak begins to see how each Raga is special in their own way and embraces the individuality of each Raga in a larger interdependent family.

Where have the ideas behind the compositions come from?

Compositionally, we are blessed that our Guruji, Pandit Shantanu Bhattacharyya, was the musical director of the album and composed and arranged the material specifically for this recording project. He arranged bandish compositions in Jaijaiwanti and Malkauns from his Guru, Pandit Prasun Banerjee, and took one old traditional Dhammar bandish in Bhairavi. The rest of the material was composed by Guruji to suit our collective and individual playing styles. It is these compositions that truly give us the platform to express the Ragas in all their beauty.

What do you want the audience to walk away with after listening to your music?

Ideally, we would like the audience to remain in quiet reflection and contemplation after listening to our music because this is what we feel after hearing a great Raga performance. Although we know we are lifetimes away from mastering this music, we have done our best to render the Ragas on this recording from the bottom of our hearts and tried to fill each moment with aspiration and sincerity. If this is conveyed to the listener then we can feel thankful as artists.

What has been the relationship between East and West in your life and music?

This album is the product of a very unique cross-cultural synthesis, in which the Eastern traditions are confronted by Western modernity. By reaching 'back’ into the vast depths of the Raga music tradition we have experienced the old-world culture in which the Ragas slowly evolve from. By looking ‘forward’, we have innovated new instruments and musical techniques that we humbly hope contribute to another chapter of the ever evolving music of North India.

After being in India for the past 10 years, the relationship between the East and West has been something very different to me then that of the modern culture. In the West, the fad has been to import only partial, superficial Truths and self-fulfilling messages of the Eastern Religions and Gurus, creating the ’New Age’ movement, a multi-billion dollar industry preying on many honest aspirants from the west. The East, in turn has embarked on mimicking the defining ideology of the ‘New World’, the American Dream and Hollywood culture, which has become an unsustainable sickness of materialism, consumerism and commercialism.

On the contrary, we have aimed to take the highest and most universal ideals from both cultures, in which the integrity of each fundamental truth is maintained while also become flexible enough to apply outside of its traditional environment. Personally, my experiences in India have enriched me far beyond my expectations and even helped me to see my own culture in a more holistic and richer light. In order for me to know myself, I had to leave my home and experience the world from another perspective, and traveling is something I recommend to everyone. It challenges you in so many ways to exceed yourself, to redefine your beliefs, to break down preconceptions and judgments of others, to problem solve with another set of tools, language and resources, to open yourself to others in humble and respectful ways which break down the ego of self-centered nature.

Traveling and immersing myself in other traditions of the world has been a huge part of my lives. Personally, it has helped me truly recognize the best aspects from my own culture; discipline, equality, structure, respect for others, respect for nature; things I had once taken for granted, or unconsciously depended on. During my time in India, my perspective on Indian life allowed me to enter into the most potent traits fundamental to Indian culture; the underlying faith of spiritual reality (soul, reincarnation), freedom of religion/worship, compassion, tolerance, contentment.

An integral synthesis of the best aspects offered by both cultures has taken time, patience and faith. A lot of energy has been put into traveling and gaining cultural knowledge and experience, and even more time has been needed to assimilate and digest what this means to me in a integral way. This endless journey is a creative process that aspires to broaden and widen the being into a more holistic and universal understanding of the individual, cosmic and transcendental aspects of our collective reality.

Many maestros have spoken about the declining popularity of classical music and the curious rise of fusion. What do you feel?

The ancient Indian, Chinese and Greek philosophers knew very well of interdependence of music and the state of culture, even to the point of predicting the inevitable downfall of their respective societies once their popular music had begun to degrade to a certain point. Have we reached this ultimatum in the age of Kaliyuga? I certainly hope not!

North Indian Raga music, in the form we know it, is the greatest fusion I know of. Dhrupad is the fusion of 2 cultures at their finest; a confluence of Hindu and Muslim music, instruments, artists and vision. We look at it now as an ancient form, but it was an intense fusion experiment that gave birth to the aesthetic of raga music that exists in North India today. Khyal is a further fusion with a new found Persian innovations and instruments. Therefore, we must remember that music is a reflection of an ever evolving humanity.

Human culture moves in waves, just as a reflection of nature, and a downward slide is none other than the inevitable certainty of the upward rise towards the next crest. We live in a fast paced, dynamic and globalizing world where the internet has empowered the individual to actively participate in the creation of a new global culture which will redefine the way in which we live. I believe this is an important period and I pray we take the time required to make mature and holistic decisions about the state of things to come; it is in our hands to decide.

I believe this decision needs to be founded on a healthy interchange between the wisdom of traditionalism, fundamentalism, and orthodoxy, with that of open, progressive, creative and free-minded ideals that aim not to sever our roots but revitalize the Truths of our forefathers in a new light. By reconciling these two poles, which are usually opposed to each other through corrupted political agenda and ideological generation gaps, as being not separate from each other, but interconnected and more importantly interdependent and necessary for a holistic paradigm shift forward, we can move into a new era of global multiculturalism that rests firmly on the traditional roots of our ancestors, while creatively using these tools to invigorate each moment and inspire our imagination, consciously propelling us collectively forward towards a truly harmonious and peaceful co-existence.  

The Album Pranaam...
If there is one place where you will feel inspired to perform, what will be that place?

In nature; in a jungle, on a mountain, by the seaside. In a place where everything and everyone is receptive to the most subtle messages of music. Nature always listens and responds because nature thrives on receptivity. Many of us humans on the other hand are constantly bombarded by the chattering of the mind and sensations which cloud our deeper receptive abilities, and to those, the inner meaning of music is lost.

What is an ideal life for your music to thrive?

The life of an artist is constantly a search for balance between their ideal environment and their ideal community; rarely are they both in the same place. Personally, I feel that greatest lessons I have learnt as an artist have been from Mother nature. I feel inspired and energized by Her beauty and harmony to no end. This is the home of my creativity.

I also feel the need for community, for collective consciousness. Living an ascetic or hermetic life detached from humanity is an ideal sadhana for some time, but for the artist in me, I need a community to share with, to inspire and be inspired by, to challenge and to be challenged by. I need to feel my art making a positive impact in the evolution of culture.

This balance between the inner creative self- who creates for the sake of individual discovery and self-perfection, and the externalizing self- who creates for the sake of the collective consciousness, becomes a dynamic play that is constantly in flux. Ideally, this artistic search for Truth, dynamically harmonizes the inner search with the outer expression, completing the circle of creation; individual, cosmic, transcendent.  For me, what unites these two energies relies on the practice of spiritual sadhana which is founded on the realization of Oneness in Consciousness so that each action is a movement of spiritual Unity expressed in physical Nature. All actions in life can therefore become a creative and artistic expression of Truth and Beauty.


The Ancient Indian Roots of the Western Alphabet By Wim Borsboom

Independent researcher Wim (William)  Borsboom grew up in Holland in a typical Roman Catholic environment, but from when he was six years old, he became increasingly interested in Hinduism, Buddhism, monastic life, meditation, eastern archaeology, arts and languages.

After his retirement from a variety of teaching occupations (the Montessori Method, Microsoft software manual writing and instruction, lifestyle guidance and yoga instruction), he returned to what he loved most in early life: eastern religion and culture, archaeology and linguistics, lately he is focusing his research specifically on the Indus Valley Civilization and Sanskrit literature.

Wim Borsboom, February 2016 at Kolkata’s Narendrapur University delivering his lecture 
on the ancient Indian roots of the Western Alphabet
The Earliest Phonemes and the Indian Alphabet

It must have been more that 4000 years ago in India, that the earliest pre-Panini linguists already had discovered that the sounds we make to verbally communicate

  •  consonants
  •  vowels
can be categorized according to where in the mouth they are articulated: from the throat (larynx) to the front of the mouth (lips) and places in between.

In those early days when communication was not as nuanced as it became later, in addition to the vowel phonemes (A, E, I, O, U), just three types of consonant phonemes were recognized:

  • the guttural k sound,
  • the dental t sound,
  • the labial p sound.

When, over time, communication became more nuanced, also more nuanced sounds were recognized*:
  • three nuances of the guttural k phoneme: ka, ga, nga,
  • three nuances of the dental t phoneme: ta, da, na,
  • three nuances of the labial p phoneme: pa, ba, ma.
When you put those phonemes in a tic-tac-toe like grid it looks like:
ka    ta   pa
ga    da  ba
gna  na  ma

This was one of the earliest, if not the earliest alphabet (Sanskrit 'abugida'). Notice that it adds up to 14 with the five vowels included. This number of 14 shows characters up in early linguistic treatises.
The ancient linguist who discovered this some 4000 years, did not write this down as letters with pen and paper. Of course not! He scratched them with a stick as marks inside a tic-tac-toe grid on the hardened soil in front of him. Whatever shapes he scratched, they were not letters yet, they were figurative scratches - graphemes - that represented voiced human sounds -phonemes.

According to researcher Chaitanya Bhide (Mumbai 2015) the shapes of those graphemes show how the tongue and lips were positioned in relation to teeth and palate, and how the breath flowed when each particular sound was produced.

The use of script to form written words was a much later invention.

The Significance of the Twenty Field Grid

After the previously described nine field grid (which did not include the vowels), a twelve field grid with more nuanced consonant phonemes developed, and in the next phase a twenty field grid was invented, which in addition to 15 consonant phonemes now also included the five vowels.

At this point the following twenty field (5x4) grid was in place. The grid that is shown here contains Devanagari script characters but 4000 years ago they must have been Pre-Ashokan Brahmi ones.

An Early Pre-Panini Sanskrit Alphabet (Abugida) 

For clarity sake I colour coded the columns.
  • The vowels column is blue,
  • he gutturals column is yellow, 
  • The dentals column is green,
  • The labials columns is red.
Notice that the columns have the same colour coding as the western alphabet letters shown belowon the blackboard illustration, but notice how the sequence of the columns on the blackboard is different.

It is important to consider that the use of vowel phonemes must have preceded the use of consonants by thousands of years as Primates,  Neanderthalers, Cro-Magnon and early Homo Habilis and Sapiens were already making use of them 'hooting and hollering'. More than 3400 years ago this grid above stood model for the western alphabet, but a near-eastern linguist (probably from what is now Syria) mistakenly mixed the columns up. The labials (red) were placed ahead of the gutturals (yellow) and the dentals (green).

We have to realize that the 26 letter western alphabet string of letters was originally only 20 letters:

  • The V and W were originally just the V**(often written or chiselled as a U).
  • The X, Y and Q were later Latin and Greek insertions,
  • G and H were originally pronounced similarly,
  • So were the I and J.

More than 3400 years ago - as detailed in my monograph "Alphabet or Abracadabra? - Reverse Engineering the Western Alphabet?" (available on Amazon and Kindle) the Indianpre-Ashokan Brahmi twenty field abugida grid of phonemes was copied by a Western linguist on his study visit to India, onto four palm-leaves each one holding one column of graphemes which later resulted in (initially) a western grid format*** as shown on the blackboard.

What happened with the four palm-leaves that had the phoneme markings written (graphed) on them, was that the linguist initially lost the palm-leave strip with the vowels and then ordered the remaining strips in the wrong order"

The Western Alphabet string (abecedary) seems to have no order, but when they are fitted in a 20 field grid a certain order becomes clear:

  • The first column - the vowels (blue) in their proper order: a e i o u,
  • The second column -  all the red letters are labials,
  • The third column - all the yellow letters are guttural (the 'c' as in the word 'case'),
  • The fourth column - all the green letters are dentals.

Finally, the Western  Alphabet’s Letter Sequence

To find out how that happenedand how a few more errors slipped by - small errors but of historic proportion - read my monograph "Alphabet or Abracadabra? - Reverse Engineering The Western Alphabet?".

The bottom figure (Alphabetic Sequencing) shows the decipherment of the 1400 BCE cuneiform clay tablet from Ugarit (current Syria).

By the time, 3400 years ago, that this alphabet was in use, the abecedary grid was read sequentially row-by-row rather then column-by-column. Hence the current western alphabetic string of characters- errors included. If the columns would not have been mixed up, the western alphabet sequence would have been something like:


(For certain missing letters, keep in mind that the G and H were at some point similar in pronunciation, so were the I and the J,  of course the W is a double U or double V.)

To order the book on Amazon India



I borrowed “reverse engineering” and “pattern analysis” techniques from the fields of engineering, software data error checking and statistics, to work my way back from 52 character Sanskrit alphabets (abugidas) and 26 letter western abecedaries.

**In even earlier stages the O and the V were equivalent.

***Not the later bastardized linear string format.


"Spicy Tutuboy keeps on questioning pre-conceived ideas of identities, sexualities and gender!"

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Diniz Sanchez studied dance and choreography in the Superior School of Dance and in Forum Dança. Dancer/performer for several companies in Portugal, France and Belgium, since 1994, he started creating his own work spanning dance, theatre, video and singing. Choreographer and director of Lua Company since its creation in 2004. Diniz has presented pieces in Portugal, Spain and France. Since 2006 he has been developing the character Spicy Tutuboy based on whom he has done several performances on questions of identity. Recently he did a Dance on High Heels workshop at The Sparsh Studio, Buoyant Performing Arts, Kolkata, also a special piece  " Horses & Hussain" along with Pradip Chattopadhyay and Janardan  Ghosh dedicated to  M F Hussian at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata and Horse Tale" at The Old House organised by  the Arshinagar Project.

How does dance, or any form of art connect to the human soul? What kind of influence does it, then have to change the human being? 

I believe that dance, as any Art form connects directly to the human soul. Dance is a very sensitive Art form: it relates to Nature, as human beings started to dance in rituals to honor and represent Mother Nature - the Goddess.

Dance as Art relates to the soul, but it also relates to the body, what makes it a "closest" Art form of human beings. In the West people have grown distant from their bodies (with the Christian idea of the body as a "channel" for sin - which take us away from the "right" path) - a bit as in the monastic currents in India, who professed the asceticism. The sacredness of Dance in India has been a bit taken apart also by the forced prostitution of Temple dancers. 

We are victims of an Era of pseudo-moralistic thinking, that hides itself behind the politics of fear, self-interest and materialistic corruption.

Nowadays East and West come together in a fusion of media, entertainment, popular amusement and cultural artistry. This has its positive and negative points. Originally, a dance was sacred and was an expression of human-body/soul contact/communication with the Gods and with others/community.
Our sacred microcosmic self (soul) [consciously or unconsciously] directly communicating with the macrocosmos. 

When this happens,  it is amazing, and you know you are in front of the most fine Art!
This should be every artist's aim. I do believe that Art's objective is to change the World, and every change has to start with the self. As an artist I hope to contribute with my Art, with my life, to help change the human being and our world into a better place for all of us.

What have been the influences in your personal life that have helped shape you as a dance-theatre personality?

When you are an artist, you are always an artist, I mean: it is not like any job or career, that you do from 9 to 5 and then go and live your life. I understand that everything I do, even in my spare time, like going to the movies, checking Facebook or chatting with friends, will have an influence in my life as an artist, hence in my Art.
This is why I consider that we artists are constantly at work - we never know from where the idea for a new creation might come! I also say that to my students: apply whatever you learn in class to your life - if it is not something that transcends the "class" situation, it is probably not so fundamental.

I was a quite lonesome child, only son of a divorced couple (till age 10, when my brother was born), who played a lot by myself, liked reading and listening to music, and had a special bond with nature... quite a sensitive boy with a lot of imagination, so in some way it was not a surprise when in the last years of school, I was more interested in (performing) art - dance/theatre - than in following an academic career.

My Mother is deaf, and although she speaks and do lip-reading (we never needed to communicate by Sign Language), I realized, years later in my dancing career, that I had chosen Dance as my Art because Dance expresses/communicates through gesture. That is why I am not so interested in "abstract" dance/movement.

Looking back, I realize that one of the things that have influenced me more as a person and as an artist is the fact of people and institutions saying "no", "you cannot do it", "you will not make it". I do not cope with that. I was born in 1974, the year of the Portuguese Revolution (that ended the dictator regime and the colonialism). I call myself "son of the Revolution". So don't tell me "no" - as I am probably going to prove you wrong!

But I am also working on that: on being a less "revolted" person and accepting what is given. And for that the major influence in my life has been India. I came to India first time in 2010, and fell in love with the country, it's Arts and Cultures, its contradictions.... And hope one day make it my home.

How have you been able to blend themes like gender fluidity into your dance performances? Can we actually have gender fluidity and flexibility in a country like India? Why or why not?

I am a gay man. I am a sensitive human being. I am an artist. Bringing themes like identity and gender in my work comes naturally: I guess I have always been working on this, consciously or not.
Recently (2007) with the birth of my performing pseudonym (alter-ego) Spicy Tutuboy, this has been even more visible. And pertinent.

I feel it is a necessity in today's world: in the West, LGBTIQ is mostly "legally accepted or tolerated", but I feel that all of this is so recent that the risk of losing it all is quite present... And then we have situations like in Russia, Africa, Arabic countries, etc., and India, where we are still letting ancient colonial laws tell us how to live our lives in 2016!!! It is just unthinkable!

That is why Spicy Tutuboy keeps on questioning pre-conceived ideas of identities, sexualities and gender!
Yes, I do believe we can have gender fluidity and flexibility in a country like India.

Why? Because: 1- India aims to be a modern country living fully in a contemporary world; 2- India is one of the countries where gender fluidity and flexibility has been part of its history and ancient traditions. Pseudo-traditionalist and fake-conservative politicians, etc., want to convince us of the contrary, erasing our true past and manipulating historical data to follow their materialistic interests. 

These days I am working precisely on these themes, for a new piece "PURUSHA IN A TUTU or deconstructing Vidushaka", and I have been reading a lot, especially books by Indian authors and  one of them is  "Shikhandi and other tales they don't tell you" by Devdutt Pattanaik. It gives you an introduction to some traditional Indian tales that talk about gender fluidity and flexibility in India.

What are your future plans? How do you plan to use your given talents across various platforms?

My future plans? Go one day at a time... Continuing to develop projects, hopefully with the support of Cultural and Artistic Institutions and Foundations, in India, in Portugal and worldwide.
I see myself as a citizen of the World, so my interests are not linked to a specific nationalism - although I was born in Portugal, and I see India as a place I would like to continue working and settle.
Artists are citizens of the world.

I will continue creating shows, performances, and teaching workshops, sharing the little that I know with people who would like to learn from it.

One of the things I realized in my path is that I would like to enrich my Art using whatever platforms are accessible/given to me: so, although I started as a contemporary, versatile dancer (touched many styles and techniques), I then grew interested and studied Theatre, then I approached the Opera world, and my interests are many, as video, photography, writing.... even cooking! Whatever will enable me to convey what I want to express/communicate

How did  Spicy Tutuboy come about?

We live in a moment of zapping ephemeral fame: today, you appear on tv, and everyone knows you, tomorrow you are forgotten; today you are number one in any Top charts, tomorrow you are missing or mister nobody.

Spicy Tutuboy at a certain point was an experiment about virtual fame: I created a page on Facebook and invited everyone who came across him in the streets and performances to become his friend or like him. But I have very much forgotten about this failed experiment, and sometimes weeks go by that I don't put anything new on Spicy Tutuboy's page (meanwhile Facebook also closed his profile).
Fame is not what is interesting: what is important is that when you are "famous" people follow you and listen to what you have to say, so it is a responsible act that you have in your hands - a way to reach out to people and make a difference.

I hope Spicy Tutuboy  will contribute to bring awareness about gender issues and bring people closer to Art and Culture.

"My advice to all women is to turn their minds to goal- fulfilment and stop using “being a woman” as an excuse for not achieving those goals. "

 Princess Maria Amor speaking at the SACH BHARAT event

Princess Maria Amor Torres, D.D. of the Philippines, is the Founder / President of We Care For Humanity (WCH) and Creator of the G.O.D. Awards. WCH is an internationally recognized organization dealing with global issues and concerns. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to her about the status of women in the corporate world.

 Princess Maria Amor at the SACH BHARAT event

Why are there so few women in corporate leadership?

In my opinion, there are many factors that affect the status and number of women in corporate leadership. There are cultures, which don’t believe in women being in the corporate world. Women are taught to stay at home, to attend to their children, and serve domestic needs. A large number of women across the world remain less educated than men. Corporate companies tend to give higher positions to those who have better educational qualifications and therefore, women lag behind.

Women are perceived as being more emotional and family-oriented. Is the stereotyping of women as not being shrewd or aggressive enough a detriment to their career growth?

I believe that it is both cultural stereotyping and scientific as well. Women are perceived as being more emotional while men express emotion only when the situation warrants it. However, scientists also point out that women are more emotionally intelligent than men. A global study of 55 cultures found that women tend to be more emotional, agreeable, and conscientious than men. These qualities also affect their career growth as I said earlier.

Princess Maria Amor with Her Excellency
 Odeta Nishani, First Lady of Albania.

Many reports have revealed women do not feel they have the opportunity in their current role to sufficiently promote themselves and communicate their ambitions. Does this surprise you?

No, it doesn’t surprise me. But this is beyond gender inequality or discrimination. This is an issue of the mindset. There are actually more success stories coming from women than men around the world.

The former President of Croatia and Yugoslavia,
 H.E. Stjepan Mesic with Princess Dato'Sri 
The Traveling Princess Maria Amor.
Have you encountered any gender-specific challenges or obstacles in your career?

So far in my career as a humanitarian, I have not encountered any major gender challenges. But I always feel there are some doubts in people's mind because I am a woman.

Do you have any advice for female professionals who are in or are looking to work in a management or leadership role?

My advice to all women is to turn their minds to goal- fulfillment and stop using “being a woman” as an excuse for not achieving those goals. Ambition is variable, success is all in the mindset and happiness is universal.


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