Philanthropy, Princeton: What defines Shloka Mehta-Ambani
The Reliance daughter-in-law co-founded ConnectFor, a platform that bridges the gap between NGOs and volunteers.
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In the one year since the couple’s engagement and subsequent wedding in March, Mehta became a household name. From what she wore to where she went and who she hung out with, the youngest child of diamantaire Russell and Mona Mehta became a subject of curiosity, and Google search. Her recent appearance at Yuvraj Singh’s retirement bash in Mumbai, sporting Sophia Webster’s iconic butterfly heels, created quite a buzz.
Shloka, who turns 29 today, met Akash when they were toddlers studying at Mumbai’s Dhirubhai Ambani school. After dating for a few years, Akash popped the question in Goa last year. The proposal was followed by a number of high-profile functions (that saw performances by Chris Martin and The Chainsmokers) spread across months and cities from Mumbai to St Moritz.
But despite having been born into a business family and married into India’s richest one, Mehta, as revealed in an earlier interview to ETPanache, wasn’t drawn to her family’s business, and rather took a shine to philanthropy after having returned to India in 2014. She spent five years overseas, studying Anthropology at Princeton University and obtaining her Master's degree from the London School of Economics.
While in college, Mehta - who says she didn’t have the creative aesthetic sense to be a designer like her mother and sister, spent hours volunteering for different causes.
At Rosy Blue, Mehta’s dad and brother Viraj manage the diamond trading, mother Mona and sister Diya (who is married to Ayush Jatia of Hardcastle Restaurants) are involved in jewellery designing.
The seed of giving back having been planted early on, the now-junior Mrs. Ambani looked for a role where she “could see the impact’ that she was creating, leading her to join the family business’s philanthropic arm, Rosy Blue Foundation. She also credits the curriculum at Dhirubhai Ambani school that involved community service for nurturing her passion towards social service.
At the foundation, she began by streamlining the process of giving, and drawing the line at what point you leave emotion behind about why and how you give. Within a year, she, along with Maniti Modi - her junior from school, launched ConnectFor. The platform, based on the model of an American website, VolunteerMatch, aims to connect volunteers with NGOs, bridging the wide gap between the two.
While Mehta’s choice of work hints towards her persona, she has also spoken about facing challenges due to a rich background.
In a 2016 interview to YourStory, Mehta said that a quote by Angela Carter - ‘What would the daughters of the rich do with themselves if the poor ceased to exist?’ - really affected her, making her more conscious about her role, and the work that needed to be done ‘to change people’s perceptions’.