She passed away at 8.00pm at her Colaba residence. A rush of tributes followed on Twitter with politicians, economists and journalists recalling her recent book on demonetisation and artistes lauding the “gentle soul”.
AAP’s Preeti Sharma Menon who like her was a member of the party’s national committee, said to TOI, “She was suffering from cancer since two years but did not want anybody to know about it. Even when she passed away, the family wanted the last rites Friday night to be private. I will always cherish her memory. She was a calm person with a reassuring personality. Whenever I took some problem to her she would make the solution seem so simple.” Sanyal lived with her husband Ashish in Colaba.
Dhiv Sena MP from South Mumbai Arvind Sawant, who trounced her in the 2014 election, said, “I am shocked beyond belief. Sanyal was such a great lady. She was brilliant in her knowledge of finance and banking. Yet not a shred of arrogance coloured her personality. She never showed off her wealth or her knowledge. Always sober, always grounded. It is a great loss.” In 2009 Sanyal fought the polls as an independent candidate.
Meera Sanyal was born in Kochi to decorated navy vice admiral Gulab Hiranandani, a veteran of the 1971 war. She studied at Cathedral and John Connon School and then Sydenham College, later acquiring a management degree from Harvard University. She served on the board of Jaihind College apart from contributing to industry bodies like CII and FICCI apart from student organisation AIESEC.
Developer Niranjan Hiranandani was equally taken aback Friday. “Yes her native surname was Hiranandani but we are not relatives. She was someone who wanted to make a difference to society, and took up different social causes to do so.”
Before joining AAP, Sanyal was chairperson and country executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, heading over 12,000 employees across 24 cities.
Before RBS, she was with Lazards and Grindlays Bank. Even as a banker she was interested in social issues and led the foreign bank’s Micro Finance program supporting 650,000 women in rural India. As chairperson of the financial Inclusion committee of the FICCI, she promoted credit for the underprivileged. In September 2011, she was invited by then US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to join the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership for Women’s Empowerment.