NYSD Meera Gandhi Interview Lunch
October 20, 2010
Source: David Patrick Columbia, New York Social Diary
I was lunching with Meera Gandhi, who created the Giving Back Foundation with operations in New York, London and Hong Kong. Meera and her banker husband Vikram live here in New York in a house where Eleanor Roosevelt lived when she returned to New York after the death of FDR. They also live in Hong Kong with Vikram currently working in London (their three children are in school in England).
I first met Meera a few years ago when Hillary Clinton was Senator from New York. I can’t remember the occasion; it was at Meera’s house and it had something to do with Eleanor Roosevelt although at that point Mrs. Clinton dominated any space by the force of her presence. Fascinates is another word. So Eleanor Roosevelt’s memory that night was present but co-starring.
I could see then that Meera, whom I knew to be an Indian woman (technically she’s Irish – mother – and Indian) from Mumbai (or Bombay as most of its citizens still call it) who was living here in New York would become a force herself.
David Patrick Columbia and Meera Gandhi
Meera is a friendly woman with that Eastern directness that seems almost serene in presentation. She likes people and likes connecting with people. New York is a perfect place if you have that talent which Meera is loaded with.
We talked about living in Hong Kong. She loves it, of course although it sounds like she’s always on the go between India, England, and New York as well. The social life in Hong Kong is compartmentalized, made exclusive by shared interests, and professions. There is a difference between the mainland Chinese and the Hong Kong Chinese (the mainlanders are much richer, for one). But Meera makes it her business to meet them all and even bring them together. She recently gave a reception for Chairman Mao’s granddaughter who has launched a new jewelry line. In case you’re wondering just how China has changed.
Her foundation is basically about helping. “You don’t need to be giving money” to be a philanthropist, she believes. Helping, giving assistance in a variety of ways is what makes the difference. Transferring things from where they are not needed or used to places where they can be. The western word for it is volunteerism and exchange. Except Meera takes it one step further; hers is international.
Meera went to BU and Harvard Business. Her “Giving Back” film has appearances by Bono, Cherie Blair, Kerry Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and many other well known people around the world discussing the nature and importance of giving back for everyone.