Sheela Chitnis and Multiple Sclerosis

Sheela Chitnis is a sparkling jewel in my collection. A bundle of raw energy with silver hair, a stentorian voice, twinkling eyes, she is a woman with a cause. Her cause is Multiple Sclerosis, or MS as she calls it. Until I met her, I only knew two MS’ – MS Subbalaxmi, my Milind Soman, and our Milind Soman. 

Vice Chairman of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI), Sheela tai tumbled upon the disease when her husband was struck by it. She brought up their only son, who was only a year old, with huge courage and patience, even as she looked after his progressively failing condition. She carried him on his back to move him around. Her story is one of amazing grace and courage. She has an amazing zest for life. Even after her husband’s passing, she battles to create awareness about the disease that changed the course of her life. I salute her and her spirit. “Will you come and address my team?”, I ask. “I will go anywhere to speak about MS”, she says. “Our patients and their families” is how she addresses the afflicted. Sheela tai is fighting the lack of awareness of the society among doctors, and lack of awareness of the disease among masses. MS needs awareness and acknowledgment. The next time you think someone is drunk and wheeling around, look twice. They may be suffering from MS.

Sharing her invite that she sends to all of you through me. Why Wednesday, I ask her. She tells me 

MSSI celebrates the 4th World Multiple Sclerosis Day (WMSD) on 30th May 2012  from  9.30 a.m. to 1.00 S.P. Jain Auditorium, Bombay Hospital, Marine Lines, Mumbai. 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating & disabling disease of the Central Nervous System that affects young men & women. It occurs without any known cause & is incurable. MSSI is the only organization working for the welfare of patients suffering from this chronic neurological disease. MS can happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime…it is usually diagnosed between 20 and 40 years of age, with a female predominance. It is not hereditary, non-contagious, and rarely fatal but unfortunately its progress to more disabilities is not curable.

On WMSD 2012, MSSI have planned a seminar to increase awareness about the disease by addressing the everyday issues faced by the MS patients & families, their challenges at the workplace and in public areas. There will be distinguished speakers, experts in their respective fields who will address different issues.

»      Experts from the Medical Fraternity.

»      Eminent legal advisors, mainly tackling the disability issues.

»      An insurance professional for knowledge about medical benefits & the rights of MS persons.

»      A prominent builder, who would help MSSI to connect with the Builder’s Association so that MSSI could fulfil their dream in having a Respite Home for their patients & also to emphasise as to how important it to have all construction & toilets disabled friendly.

»      A socially responsible corporate representative, who would emphasise on the patients welfare at the work place & importance of CSR in today’s society.

»      A financial expert who would let us know the enlighten us on issues of Nominations, Trusts, Wills & Living Wills.

»      MSSI would like to have the participation of the electronic & print media along with the support of our celebrities who would greatly help in bringing about the much needed awareness of this debilitating disease.

1992 - 1996
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Deepa starts working at Hindustan Unilever Ltd., and after working there for a few years decides to take a career break to take care of her son. The family plans to move to Jamaica, and she wishes to resume working. There are not a lot of opportunities post a career break for her, and this makes her realise the plight of women all across the world who are trying to resume working after taking a break. The seed for Lumière is planted. Deepa joins J.A. Young Research Ltd. to get back to her roots, and ultimately decides to start her own firm under her CA's advise.



Start of Lumière Consultancy in Jamaica



The family is aching to return to India, and post the birth of her second child, Deepa gets an offer from HUL to rejoin them. She has an itch to make it on her own, and so declines. This results in a different type of engagement between the two, and Lumière engages exclusively with HUL by expanding their scope. Deepa builds a stronghold in consumer behavior, and Lumière develops into an entity of its own. Inception of 'Consumer Centricity', which is their future key to strength, begins. With an expansion in their work, they need more resources and a group of like-minded talented professional women to join the team. Lumière gives them solace, a place to grow, rebuild their careers, and achieve goals beyond their expectations. They begin with mentoring initiatives, with an urge to inspire young individuals. People approach them through word-of-mouth, references, and to create opportunities beyong market research, Lumière becomes a Pvt. Ltd. company.



An opportunity arises to be a part of something big, to analyse the growth mindset and the creation of a best practice document for sequential recycling. Lumière makes an impact across categories and branches into Product Testing and Category Creation.



Lumière touches ₹ 1 crore. Their brochure is presented at MRSI. The company turns 10, and Milind joins the team as an observer. This becomes the phase of Lumière's upheavel: from scaling up, digitization and automation of processes, to plugging in leakages across departments and accounts. Their billings reach ₹ 3 crores.



Rashmi Bansal dedicates a chapter of her book 'Follow Every Rainbow' to Deepa and Lumière. The company enters adulthood, and they facilitate change management for Lumière. The introduction of the Gallup Strengths to the portfolio is a game changer. A revamp of the technological infrastructure ensues, giving way to an articulation of Lumière 3.0.