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Thursday, September 10, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Meera Gandhi, CEO of MTG Productions and Committed Philanthropist


CEO of MTG Productions, Mrs. Gandhi is a well known community leader, committed humanitarian and philanthropist dedicated to solutions to human suffering and deprivation around the globe. She is truly “ a woman of all seasons,” a citizen of the world who is equally at home in her various residences in New York City, Mumbai, London, Dublin and Hong Kong.

In 2008, Meera Gandhi launched her own Television and Internet production company “MTG productions” where she is producing content for TV, Internet and the 4th Dimension. The key messages of her productions are uplifting and basically an extension of her deep beliefs in life for humanity. Noted for her motto. Meera says "We are to the universe only as much as we can give back to it." These values have won her many friends and admirers alike who are always happy to be aligned with any cause or project that Meera Gandhi is currently associated with.

In 1997, Meera Gandhi and her husband moved from NYC back to India for three years and then returned to NY in 2000, where the Gandhi's bought their celebrated townhouse in NY on Park Avenue that was the former residence of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Meera Gandhi then threw herself wholeheartedly behind various causes, successfully raising money for a number of noted charities, in the US, and India. Among the many, she has been on the boards of FERI ( The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute) , ERVK, (The Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill), Safety Net(for battered women), Pratham ( education for street children of India), Children’s Hope (underprivileged children in NY), and was also Co-Chairman of the US Committee for UWC with HRH Pavlos (HRH Queen Noor of Jordan, who is the patron of the organization). Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi are also closely aligned with the Fulbright Scholar Organization, which honored the couple as persons of the year in 2007. In August, 2009 the Gandhi’s hosted Fulbright Scholars, Board Members, supporters and other international VIP’s at an event in their historic home in New York City.

While hosting many charitable events at the New York residence, Meera has opened her home to a long list of world leaders that include the Hon. Hillary Clinton, The Hon. Cherie Blair, Rahul Gandhi , Kerry Kennedy, Robert Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, whose book was launched at the Gandhi mansion in 2007, Anna Roosevelt (granddaughter of Eleanor Roosevelt) and numerous literary, academic and entertainment personalities such as Gabriel Byrne, Phylicia Rashad, Mira Nair, the late Ismail Merchant, and the global list goes on.

Meera Teresa Gandhi was born in Mumbai, India. She is the daughter of Ellen Mary McCarthy of Dublin, Ireland, and Perbodh Nath Agarwal of Mumbai, India. She studied at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai and the Lester B. Pearson, UWC College in Canada. In 1985, Meera Gandhi graduated from The Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi and then obtained an MBA from Boston University, USA in 1989. Ms. Gandhi also completed the Executive Education program from the Harvard Business School, Boston, USA in Dec 2007. Mrs. Gandhi is currently at work on a documentary and book on “giving back” which will be christened in 8 international cities later this year. Ms. Gandhi has worked for Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP ) and Credit Suisse in Mumbai, India, 1986-87. After Business school, Meera moved from Banking to Fashion and worked as a buyer for Macy's Chain of Department stores, NY and Lord and Taylor in Women's couture before starting her own business in 1993, Meera Collections Inc.

Meera has been married for the last 23 years to her high school sweetheart Vikram Gandhi (a successful investment Banker, Global Head of FIG at Credit Suisse Bank). They have three children Kiran 20, a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; Kanika 17, who is at the Atlantic College in Wales, and Kabir 13, who is at the International School in Hong Kong. Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi live between New York and Hong Kong and she is loving her bi-continental life and vital commitment to TV and Internet production! Her hobbies and leisure activity include Yoga, Meditation, Jogging and Studying History especially the writing of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. “History teaches one many lessons”. For more information on Meera Gandhi please go www.MeeraGandhi.com Whom You Know is so pleased to present her as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Meera Gandhi for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: Being that you are half Irish and half Indian, we are reminded of our friend Raj Bhakta (also a Whom You Know Mover and Shaker) who also has that ancestry. What do you draw from each side?
Meera Gandhi: From my Irish side, I draw poetry, literature and my various artistic bents, as well as a sense of fun and laughter. My memories of long vacations
in the summer in remote parts of Ireland. From my Indian side I draw spirituality and purity, a certain mystical quality, a passion and also, a tremendous work ethic. My memories of life in bustling Mumbai, contrasted with playing in the green fields of Ireland with my numerous Irish cousins, should give you an idea of the uniqueness of being half Irish and half Indian. Picture me sitting in an Irish country pub reading a biography of Mahatma Gandhi by Richard Payne!

Tell us more about MTG productions please.
MTG is multi-media, multi-continent and it is growing fast. We have several award-winning producers on board with us now. We have in the works a documentary film, a coffee table book, a music CD and another book . We will be announcing even more new ventures within the year.

What are your ambitions for MTG productions?
To reach as many people as we can, to better connect the " universe " and the people in it, those who CARE. To show how these people lead
by example more than anything.

What is it like to live where Eleanor Roosevelt once lived?
The sense of history in the house never leaves you. Knowing that Eleanor Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy met in the front room, knowing that other giants of history such as Nikita Khrushchev sat in our living room and our kitchen, is humbling. But more than one guest has told me that they somehow can FEEL Eleanor's presence. At first I found that odd, but gradually I came to feel it too.

What are you proudest of?
I am proudest of my three children and their quest for higher education, their excellent athletic endeavors, and their comfort zones in so many parts of the world..New York, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Dublin and London...they are at home everywhere and have close friends in all these cities!

Please tell us more about your upcoming book.
It will be about giving back, with various interesting segments about philanthropy, from the well known and the lesser known, the heroes of this world who care about the neglected and the downtrodden..AND it will be edgy and sexy too.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
Without a doubt, my parents and my husband Vikram.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Of course, that would be in my home on Park Avenue. Even though it is a historic place, we have managed to create a sense of home, of comfort and even coziness in it..

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
My favorite shop is Chanel. Closely followed by Gucci, and then Home Depot!

What is your favorite drink?
Mango Lassi with mint leaves.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
The Four Seasons, 2l Club, Swifty's. and Tamarind, a great Indian restaurant on Park and 22nd.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
The same as every New Yorker:. E. B. White's "Here Is New York."

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Mornings of yoga and/or jogging and afternoons of tennis!

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
I love getting from A to Z in record time! It can be done in Manhattan, because EVERYTHING is here..museums, plays, libraries, spas, gyms, Central Park, fabulous art galleries , all within walking distance of one another. That's so rare in the world's other large cities.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
When Mira Nair invited me to the Red Carpet film premiere of 20th Century Fox's "Vanity Fair" and my young daughter Kiran and I walked on the red carpet with Reese Witherspon and Ramola Garai. It was magnificent. Another was when Hillary Clinton was about to come to our home to support Eleanor Roosevelt's girls' leadership workshop, and the Secret Service arrived the day before and were all over our house. My son Kabir was then 10 years old, and he has never forgotten the experience. And just a few weeks ago, while meeting friends at the Four Seasons Hotel, my daughter Kanika whispered to me that Jennifer Aniston was at the next table. We wound up talking with Jennifer, who was just as nice as could be, so it was quite a thrill for my Kanika. Only in Manhattan!

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Lots of old time classic restaurants are overrated. Living on their old legends. Underrated would be the young people of Manhattan, whom I find to have more depth of character and seriousness of purpose, than one would guess from watching programs such as Gossip Girl.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
Actually, I adore reading about the fascinating people featured in Whom You Know, and also I do enjoy the tips on new cosmetic products!

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
That I think New Yorkers are the most interesting and resilient people I have yet encountered. That my life motto is, "the only thing a human
can really leave behind on this planet is how we have touched another person's life. Anything beyond that really does not live on at all."

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
They can contact me at MeeraGandhi.com

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