Young achiever Sujata Parashar (SP) has been recently nominated for the prestigious REX Karamveer Global Fellowship and the Karamveer Chakra Award instituted by iCongo in association with the UN. Anumita (ACR) interviewed her via email. A Different Truths exclusive.
Social media is a place where we get to meet and know many people. Some of them stand out from the others. I got to know Sujata Parashar through Facebook some years back, and writing kept us connected. Today, with her being nominated for such a prestigious award makes me feel proud to be her friend. I messaged to congratulate her and ask her for an interview, and she agreed. Although we live across the globe, Sujata and I communicated through emails and got a wonderful interview. Here is our tête-à- tête session on the life and times of Sujata.
SP: I’m a good cyclist and swimmer and still enjoy both these activities, although I’m not so regular now. I used to also play chess and badminton during my student years. Now, my son plays both the games and is much better at them than I was at his age. I love traveling, English classic romantic movies, music, communicating with people, and trying out cuisines from around the world. However, my comfort food is salad and soup even in summers.
ACR: As writing was not a chosen profession for you, when did you discover the writer in you?
SP: Quite late. I stumbled upon the writer in me, while freelancing for a social project. My first book, In pursuit of infidelity (2009, Rupa &Co.) was purely being written for self-consumption, at first. However, midway through the manuscript, somehow, I decided to email the unfinished MS to a few of the well-known publishers, in Delhi. I was lucky that a couple of publishers showed interest in my work. The book, which I had started writing, in 2007, finally came out towards the end of 2009. But there was no looking back after that. The book became a bestseller and propelled me into the world of writing. However, to tell you frankly, I prefer calling myself a storyteller.
SP : Those are heavy terms. I do what I strongly feel for. Since I hold a Masters in Human Rights and have been working in the social sector, for more than a decade. I’ve had the opportunity to work on different interesting projects. I began my journey in the social development sector, in 2001, (before that I worked in the travel and tourism sector, as I have a degree in travel and tourism management also), as a volunteer with a national level grassroots NGO, Prerana, (New Delhi), where I worked on projects related to the marginalised women, children and adolescents in the areas of health and education. Since then I have worked on several prestigious assignments in this field including working for ACORD, a Delhi-based social research and consulting firm on projects related to good governance (The Bhagidari scheme).
However, it was only, in 2008, when my ex-colleague, Richa Mohan, herself a clinical psychologist by profession, decided to start her own NGO, Empowering Minds, and invited me to join their executive board, that I became deeply involved with their mental health project, one of their core focus areas. Under it we offer psychosocial care and support especially to the bleeding disorders community.
I was trained in the US on one such powerful programmes called Parents Empowering Parents (or PEP) and together with Richa Mohan (who brought the PEP programme to India) started training health professionals, parents and caregivers of children with haemophilia under a project. This is a niche area of work, where not many people have the expertise. Empowering Minds is, in fact, one of the very few organisations in the country
that is imparting this training to parents and professionals to increase their knowledge and awareness about haemophilia (and other bleeding disorders) and how to take care of such kids, who are suffering from the disorder from a psychosocial perspective.
Apart from that, I’m also leading a unique social initiative called Fellows of Nature (FON) to promote nature – writing and build a community of nature lovers. FON is one of the three most important initiatives of Kumaon Literary Festival (KLF), which is the country’s first travelling literary festival and is into its second edition this year. As a part of the main project, we are running an online international short story contest around the theme of Nature. The first FON South Asia Short Story Award, comprising a prize money of INR 100,000 and a FON plaque will be conferred to the topmost selected story in October this year. A fine collection of short stories will also be published next year comprising the other top 30 stories selected by our international jury.
ACR: It is a matter of great pride that you have been nominated for the prestigious REX Karamveer Global Fellowship and the Karamveer Chakra Award instituted by iCongo in association with the UN. Tell us the story.
SP: Indeed it is, thank you! Well, what I can tell you is that it came out of the blue! One of the esteemed fellows of RKGF nominated my name to their council, I was informed about it through an email and asked to fill a rather detailed application form and submit within a stipulated time frame. chosen few who would be getting the REX Karamveer Global Fellowship Within a month after my submission, I was again informed that my nomination had been accepted and I was one of the and the Karamveer Chakra award this year. I tried finding out the name of this mysterious supporter, who nominated me for the award but the lady volunteer from iCongo. She was communicating with me over the email politely refused to divulge the name, saying it was against their policy. The award is given to people, who are change makers or torchbearers of change and impact the lives of people and planet through their innovative ideas and work.
- It is a coveted award and a Global Fellowship programme of iCongo launched with the UN
- Karamveer awardees get invited as keynote speakers/panellists to speak in prestigious conclaves and forums across the globe.
- Because of the fellowship and their names listed on the iCongo website, they are also invited to join relevant national committees as core members
- Karamveer awardees also get better access to supporters and funders for their cause.
SP: Both are the same person. And as a person I’m sensitive and wear my emotions on my sleeve. Because I am straightforward and extremely direct in my approach I’ve had situations where people took undue advantage…but then life isn’t always fair, it completely depends on us how we deal with what is offered. So I try to make the best of everything that comes my way. Sometimes I win and at others I learn a lesson.
SP: I don’t need to rewind or play my life once again for that, I’ll still attempt and hopefully accomplish some of them. Like learning to drive a car, traveling to as many countries as possible, write a book that would bring me a prestigious international literary award, et al.
Pix sourced by Sujata