Published on March 12th, 2014 | by Jehan Raffiuddin
FAB WOMEN: Aarti Mohan
An accomplished classical dancer and erstwhile senior design engineer, it was in 2009 that Aarti Mohan gave it all up to become an instrument for social change. As the Chief Editor of The Alternative, Aarti has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the social change process and make it more accessible by informing, inspiring and engaging her readers. FAB BAG catches up with Aarti to get behind her beautiful mind…
Ask her about how she manages the multiple roles of a co-founder, Editor, social activist and mother and you’ll find Aarti candidly admit, “A bit of mayhem is what all of us just have to get used to… in fact, I think I would miss it if it weren’t around”. An engineering grad with 7 sparkling years at industry leaders Texas Instruments and AMD, she had always felt that “social change” in contemporary India was far too obtuse, unapproachable and at times, daunting for the average person to engage and make a difference. This, according to her, is exactly what defeats the purpose. “Since social change is not what one person can bring about… it is more of how an entire generation can adopt a stance to build something that is sustainable”, she says.
Aarti’s earliest exposure to the power of social change was in 2007 when she founded Sattva (www.sattva.co.in) along with some of her friends as a voluntarily run eZine. As her readership grew, she realized the need to build a voice that was backed by research and associations with other organizations and that is how ‘The Alternative” (www.thealternative.in) was born. With 2 Laadli media awards in Dec 2010 from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Population First for “Gender Sensitivity In Media Reporting On The Web”, The Alternative has definitely carved a niche for itself in the crowded NGO space in a very short span of time.
The FAB BAG Crew caught up with the energetic and razor-sharp Aarti and here’s a bit from our tete-a-tete that’ll bring you closer to her…
FAB BAG: So, Aarti – if money could buy happiness, what would you spend it on?
Aarti: No second thoughts on that one – buying more time for each day.
FAB BAG: We all have our own idea of a perfect getaway… what’s yours?
Aarti: I believe the people you travel with and meet, matter more than the place. Any place can transform itself into a perfect getaway with right people… and the right set of books!
FAB BAG: If you had to start up something new, what would that be?
Aarti: Probably something in the field of performing arts – it just always been a part of me.
FAB BAG: What’s the one favourite quote that you’re likely to have scribbled in your diary?
Aarti: I guess it’s the one by Steve Jobs… “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.”
FAB BAG: What’s the one message that you’d like to give to our members
Aarti: Live in the moment and do what you love.
From the archives, here’s a video of Aarti talking about how The Alternative leverages digital platforms to build awareness around critical social issues:
Parting Shot: Spend an hour with her and she’ll convince you that it doesn’t take much to bring about social change. In Aarti’s words, “All is takes is the first LIKE, SHARE or COMMENT – and then you know that you have helped further the conversation”. It is conversations like these that has helped this gritty lady build a voice that has demystified “social change” and made it easier for the average Indian to engage with. As we take leave, there’s just one thing we hear above the din… “Never underestimate the power of the smallest thing you do… all it takes is the will to begin”
The *FAB* Women initiative by FabBag.com celebrates the occasion of Women’s Day all through the month of March with an aim to inspire women across the country by sharing stories of ordinary women with extraordinary lives. If you liked reading Aarti’s story, please leave a comment below and share this article. It’s now your turn to spread the inspiration.