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BOLLYWOOD LOSES ITS BRIGHTEST STAR

Dilip Kumar passed away at the age of 98 in Mumbai on Wednesday. His death brings down the curtains not only on a glorious career, but also marks the end of an era in Bollywood.

GAUTAM CHINTAMANI

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During the making of Mashaal (1984), Dilip Kumar would routinely call screenwriter Javed Akhtar and ask him to narrate the script repeatedly. One half of the iconic screenwriting duo “Salim-Javed”, Akhtar had previously penned Shakti (1982) with his former partner Salim Khan that featured the thespian in the lead, and as a result, knew how the actor approached his characters. Yet Akhtar couldn’t put his finger on why Dilip Kumar constantly asked for a narration. Kumar’s body of work included some of the landmark films in Hindi cinema—Andaz (1949), Aan (1952), Amar (1954), Devdas (1955), Naya Daur (1957), Madhumati (1958), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), and Ganga Jumna (1961)—and he excelled at playing complex characters. Akhtar finally asked the actor why he insisted on endless narrations, and he was surprised when the actor told him that the intensity of his character “Vinod Kumar” was unlike he had ever encountered. Anyone who followed Hindi cinema from the 1950s onwards would assume that someone like Dilip Kumar would find a film like Mashaal to be a cakewalk. After all, he was the “tragedy king” and peerless when it came to the genre Mashaal fell into, but the actor still gave it his all. Dilip Kumar’s death at 98 brings down the curtains on not only a glorious career as a screen legend but also marks the end of an epoch in more ways than one could count.

Born “Yusuf Khan” in 1922 in Peshawar, Dilip Kumar hailed from a well-to-do family of fruit merchants. In the shadow of the looming Second World War, his father, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, began exploring business opportunities in Bombay. Initially, Sarwar Khan’s family stayed back in Peshawar, but a stray incident where he picked up a baby in a pram because he reminded him of his son, Yusuf, started a chain of reactions leading the entire family shift to Bombay. Sarwar Khan set up a thriving business in Bombay’s Crawford Market but Yusuf’s elder brother, Ayub Khan, developed a respiratory disorder, and the family shifted to the hilly terrains of Deolali, an Army station located at a distance of 180 kilometres from Bombay. In Deolali, Yusuf enrolled in Barnes School, learnt to speak English, fell in love with football, and for the rest of his life referred to himself as a Deolali boy. During vacations, the family went to Peshawar, and Yusuf spent time with his grandparents and cultivated a lifelong friendship with someone who would become one of his most famous contemporaries—Raj Kapoor. In Peshawar, the Khan family was friendly with the family of Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor, Raj Kapoor’s grandfather, and many years later, Yusuf and Raj would meet again in then Bombay’s Khalsa College. Family hardships forced Yusuf to leave home and work as manager of a British Army canteen. He set a sandwich business for a while and even took over the family’s fruit supply operations before landing a contract with Bombay Talkies in 1942 for a monthly salary of a princely sum of Rs 1,250.

Devika Rani, the prima donna of India films and the boss of Bombay Talkies, gave Yusuf Khan his screen name “Dilip Kumar”. It was in the first meeting that Devika Rani spotted Yusuf’s potential, she had done this on another occasion a few years ago when she transformed Kumudlal Kunjilal Ganguly into “Ashok Kumar”. Unlike Raj Kapoor, who was trying to break into films and got a monthly salary of Rs 170, Dilip Kumar was a star from the moment he set foot in Bombay Talkies. He maintained that aura all through the course of his career. His debut Jwar Bhata (1944) did not create the kind of dent Rani would have imagined, however, he zoomed past the likes of Ashok Kumar, Dev Anand, Motilal, and Raj Kapoor in a short period. Kumar’s first box office success came in the form of Jugnu (1947), and although films such as Shaheed (1948) and Mela (1948) were successful, nothing announced his arrival as Mehboob’s Andaz (1949). Mehboob’s Andaz featured Nargis and Raj Kapoor as well, and the casting couldn’t have been better, but Dilip Kumar stood out, and there was no looking back. Dilip Kumar possessed the star quality that filmmakers often seek. This is why the likes of Mehboob Khan and Bimal Roy, arguably two of the most prominent filmmakers in Hindi cinema in the 1940s and the 1950s, picked him over the others. Kumar featured in Mehboob’s technicolour extravaganza Aan and Amar and was the first choice to play the role of Birju in Mother India (1957). Kumar wanted to play the double role of the father Shamu, later played by Raaj Kumar as well as the elder son, Ramu, eventually played by Rajendra Kumar as he couldn’t wrap his mind around playing son to Nargis, a heroine that he had romanced on screen. Bimal Roy’s version of Devdas (1951) cemented Kumar’s status as the unparalleled tragedy king of Hindi cinema, a style first noticed by the fans in Deedar (1951).

Nehruvian socialism heavily influenced the hero of post-Independence popular Hindi cinema. Dilip Kumar, along with Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, often imbibed certain personality traits of India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in one way or the other while portraying characters. Kapoor’s early films—Awaara (1951),Shree 420 (1955), and Boot Polish (1954)—drew a lot from classic Soviet literature and ideas and his loveable tramp was supposed to represent the average Indian with a heart of gold despite the hardships that seemed to stem from the institutional model of the country. Dev Anand represented the modernism of Nehru, but it was Dilip Kumar who was nestled in between and offered the ideal mix of traditions and modernity. In films such as Naya Daur and Ganga Jumna, Kumar enmeshed all the qualities that defined the socialist model that Nehru’s pitched with the right balance. The dacoit-saga Ganga Jumna was the first film that Kumar directed, although Nitin Bose was credited, and the Censor board nearly stopped its release until Kumar approached Nehru to help him out. Both the film and Kumar’s performance are counted amongst the greatest to date and have inspired films such as Deewar (1975). The other aspect that separated Dilip Kumar from the ilk was that unlike the other two, Anand and Kapoor, or even the later stars who followed, he and his films did not seem interchangeable. The dark underbelly of newly-independent India’s commercial capital Bombay explored by Kapoor in Awaara or Shree 420, and Dev Anand in films like Baazi (1951), CID (1956), Jaal (1952), Kala Bazar (1960), Jaali Note (1960)seem to be near-perfect substitutes. On the other hand, Dilip Kumar films were his own, unique, and singular in every aspect of the word, and the fans knew this and remained steadfast to Kumar even when he reduced his output.

Right from the onset of his career, Dilip Kumar was never hurried or rushed. He refused more films than most of his contemporaries put together and was more adept at shifting gears than everyone else. Kumar’s career peaked between 1947 and 1964, a period where 36 of his 58 films released, and there was hardly anything left for him to prove. He had achieved more than what could have been expected from a film star. Perhaps that is why he refused Pyaasa (1957), as it seemed to remind him of some of his tragic roles and even said no to David Lean. The latter wanted to cast him as Prince Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) as he felt he would not have been comfortable in the Hollywood setup. This was when Dilip Kumar agreed to do lighter roles in Kohinoor and Ram Aur Shyam (1967), reportedly at the suggestion of his psychoanalyst. In his autobiography, The Substance and the Shadow, Kumar writes how he almost decided to quit acting after the success of Ram Aur Shyam, but was dissuaded by his wife, Saira Banu. The advent of Rajesh Khanna and later Amitabh Bachchan changed the template of Hindi films, and like most stars of the earlier generations, Kumar had a tough time finding his space. No matter what Dilip Kumar did, he would always be larger than life. Perhaps this is why the mainstream everyman roles in the 1970s, dominated by the angst-driven Angry Young Man persona popularised by Salim-Javed films, were a kind of misfit for him. The 1970s were not too kind to Kumar with films like Gopi (1970), Dastaan (1972), Sagina (1972) and Bairaag (1976) that hardly mattered, and he took a sabbatical before returning with Manoj Kumar’s Kranti (1980). Kumar rediscovered his rhythm in the 1980s not because he found his sweet spot but thanks to the filmmakers who finally came up with scripts that would justify his talent and stature without being ostensibly larger than life. The decade saw him featured opposite younger and up and coming stars such as Amitabh Bachchan in Shakti, Sanjay Dutt in Vidhaata (1982) and Kanoon Apna Apna (1989), Anil Kapoor in Mashaal (1984), and Karma (1986) that also had Jackie Shroff and Sridevi, Rishi Kapoor in Duniya (1984), and Govinda and Madhuri Dixit in Izzatdaar (1990).

A true pioneer, Dilip Kumar’s films in the 1980s had created a space where a former superstar could manage to feature in meaningful roles. However, the 1990s with Saudagar (1991) and later Qilla (1998), Kumar’s last film, did more harm as the template went back to the larger-than-life template both in terms of the film’s scope and the character. Through the 1990s, Kumar tried to complete his directorial venture Kalinga, the story of a judge and his two sons played by Raj Kiran and Raj Babbar, but the film went over budget and the producer, Sudhakar Bokade backed out. Off-screen, there were some instances where Kumar’s actions generated controversy as well; such as in the early 1980s, when he publicly declared his second marriage to a divorced Hyderabad-based socialite Asma Sahiba or the time where he refused to return the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, in the wake of the Kargil war in 1999.

When one thinks of Dilip Kumar, the peerless legacy that he left behind as an actor, something that continues to shape the craft of acting to this date, comes to mind. The path that he blazed was followed by generations of actors right from Manoj Kumar, who took his screen after a character played by Dilip Kumar, to Kamal Haasan, who considered him one of the finest ever. There is more to Dilip Kumar than his onscreen persona that inspired people in real life. He was not without his flaws, no human can ever be, but his demeanour and how he conducted himself in public life was far greater than the screen icon that he was. Dilip sahab’s grace and dignity are what many would remember him for besides his brilliance in front of the camera.

Gautam Chintamani is a film historian and author of the bestselling ‘Dark Star: The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna’, ‘The Film That Revived Hindi Cinema’ and ‘Pink: The Inside Story’. His last book, ‘Rajneeti’ was the first biography of Rajnath Singh. His upcoming book ‘The Midway Battle: Challenges at Home and Abroad for Modi 2.0’ will release in 2021.

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You end up saying things in writers room that come out only during therapy: Garima Pura

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Garima Pura

Writer Garima Pura joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Garima, who is the co-writer of the Netflix show ‘Little things’ opened up about her journey of working as a screenwriter.

Garima started off by giving us insights about her fellow writers and sharing her experience of being the writer of a prominent show like ‘little things’ she said, “ The first and second season were written by Dhruv Sehgal, he is the original writer. When Netflix picked it up for the third season is when they asked for a diversity in the writers teams. Writers room experience per say was all heart. You end up saying things that come out only during therapy. Writing is a fairly personal experience. There is craft and technique but mostly there is experiences and emotions. So all the writers have to become friends and get to know each other well. You just put all those experiences in the mix on the table and then pick what is good for the show. She went to say that, ‘’This is not purely experience based, there’s fiction too

Talking more about her writers room experience and how she bagged the project, Garima shared, “Little things writers rooms was first few in the country. This concept is seen an advent with the advent of OTTs. At that time, I was already floating my work with the production houses to see if I get something or not. I was presenting and asking to be given an opportunity. That is when ‘Little things’ team went through my profile. We had to write sample scripts and a solid screening process post which we were picked. Then we found ourselves in a little writers room where we met day and day out.

Sharing about the overwhelming response from the audience on the third season of the show, Garima expressed, “There are so many talented people out there who deserve their writing to be showcased. Being in this position, I feel so honored and privileged that I got an opportunity so early in my carrier to contribute to an already solid show. I feel great and humble at the same time and it also inspires me to do better work and tell stories which are honest and people feel close to.”

When asked about her previous work experiences, the writer said, “ I have made documentaries in the past and I’ve been different types of writer at different stages. Till the time I was in studying in Chandigarh, filmmaking was no where in the horizon, I just wanted to be a writer. I had published poems and stories and enrolled in a media course to become a journalist. So there I felt like film making is a good vessel to share my experiences and be heard.”

For our final question, we asked Garima about her upcoming projects, to which she revealed, “ Right now I am doing dialogues for an 8 episode web show. I am extremely excited for this because it’s North Indian dialogues as I have a good command over this lingo. Next, I am working with Audible and a couple of short films here and there. I wrote a feature documentary “Sacred bond” which is about an orphan elephant who is being taken care of by human parents”.

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No book ever said that the secret to a happy life is success: Samir Soni

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Samir Soni

Actor Samir Soni recently joined NewsX for an insightful chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation with NewsX, the actor shared insights about his book “ The diary of an introvert”. Read excerpts:

We started the interview by asking him about the idea behind his book. Samir replied, “ This book contains my actual diary entries. This book was more of a process of discovering myself starting from 10 years back. During this time, I learned why I was the way I was. Writing it down was just my way to get my stuff out of my system. Recently when we were hit by the pandemic and people were depressed and anxious, I was approached for a book. I told them that I have something written which is very relevant today and they absolutely loved it.”

“There are various passages in the book where I am going back to childhood telling stories and in between is the actual process of going through self-discovery. I experienced something first hand, wrote it down and allowed others to judge ”, he added.

When asked about how he dealt with being an introvert in this line of work, Samir revealed “The first step was to discover the issue and then I discovered that I was a classic introvert and that there is nothing wrong with being that way. In front of the media, you have to be a certain way. Nobody shows their pain and struggles because the audience doesn’t want that. I didn’t let people beat me up for who I was and my friends have now accepted me for who I am.”

Further sharing about the reactions he received from the audience on this book, the actor said that the most common reaction he got was people saying that’s so much like them. “Over the years, my fans have a pretty decent idea of who I am and the most common thing is that they love it. The aspect of relativity is very much there. Everyone is projecting what they aspire to be, and you might not be that person. So, in my book, I am not trying to be aspirational. No book ever said that the secret to a happy life is fame, money, and success. Everyone’s definition of success is different and everyone has a different journey. ”

Lastly, Samir shared who he was addressing in his diaries that he wrote 10 years back. “ I was going through personal and professional phases in my life where I wasn’t feeling good about myself and unlike other times when you distract yourself, I decided to stay silent. I didn’t read books or watch tv as much as I possibly could and my only outlet was writing. As I started to write it took me to all kinds of places in life.”

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‘Dream Come True’: Akashdeep Sengupta on composing Sooryavanshi’s Mere Yaara

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Music composer Akashdeep Sengupta joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Akashdeep opened up about composing a song for Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer Sooryavanshi, his journey till now and much more.

Talking about composing the song, ‘Mere Yaara’ in Sooryavanshi, Akashdeep expressed, “It is a dream come true to be a part of such a big production, such a big casting, working with the likes of Karan Johar, Dharma Productions, Akshay Kumar, Rohit Shetty and such a big franchise. It is a dream come true. It is a lovely song. We always had that trust. Me, Kaushik and Guddu, they are my fellow composers in the song. It is a dream come true for me to compose such a track for them. It took some time for this song to come out but eventually it has.”

When asked how did he bag the project, Akashdeep shared, “It was something that completely happened because of Azeem Dayani. Azeem is the music supervisor for Dharma films. He supervises all the films for Dharma music. He had immense faith in the song and in us. He took this song a long time back. It was with him since 2017-18. He tried to put the best film with the best cast and the best people. He got it in Sooryavanshi.”

Talking about the response to song, Akashdeep said, “I am simply overwhelmed. It is a dream come true. Before this, it never happened but now that the song is out, people have messaged and congratulated me and my team. We have all been benefitted a lot from this song and people have really loved it. They have really welcomed us in the industry as music directors.”

On composing music for Amazon Prime’s Sherni and Modern Love, Akashdeep shared, “These projects came to me out of the blue. Aniket, who is the head of Amazon’s music studio originals, called me one day and he told me that he was interested in my profile and he wanted me to supervise music. I have been associated with Pritam Da for a long period of time as a assistant to him. I have been vocally supervising his songs, like dubbing singers and all. From there, he got to know about me and he called me up. I gave them some ideas of mine. Sherni happened. I supervised the title track of Sherni, got all the artists together like Raftaar, Utkarsh, Akasa. For Modern Love, it happened the same way. There was already a song called Setting Sail. He made the Hindi official cover for it. I got Zaedan and Lisa Mishra onboard for that song. It’s pretty much like you recruit the right artist, you choose the correct melody and you try to give a superb soundtrack to the audience. That’s how supervision works.”

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Flexibility and adaptability with the customer have been the growth mantra: Harsh Khandelwal

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Harsh Khandelwal is a young entrepreneur. He is the CEO of SGN Software. A visionary in his own right, Harsh has identified the opportunities for growth in the IT sector and has kept his company ahead in the industry. We hosted him for an interview for our latest series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Our first question to Mr. Khanderwal was about the ethos of his company and how they identified the areas where they could capture the market, to which Harsh said, “The ethos for SGN started in 2009 when we saw a gap in the market in the SME space where we saw tech firms, MNCs working in the SME space.” For the second part of the question, he stated, “India’s SME market is huge, so we wanted to see if we can start our initiative on a practice where we can provide enterprise applications services at a cheaper cost. So that initiative started and then I saw we were the early entrants in the market working with leading software players like Oracle, SAP, Salesforce and we made it in the SAP market and we have grown the practice over the last decade working in eastern and northern India.”

We then asked Mr. Khandelwal how the IT industry landscape has changed since the pandemic began and how the transition has been for his clients. “The good thing about IT is the customers realised the importance of IT in the pandemic. While working from home, customers realised the importance of connectivity, real-time data, how to be connected with people, be it HR applications, be it Salesforce automation, be it banking integration where they know what is their incoming account receivable, payables,” said Harsh. He finished the answer by saying, “So, we have done a lot of projects remotely. It’s been a huge paradigm shift.” 

Telling us about their plans for expansion, Harsh informed us that his organisation has invested in the upcoming Bengal Silicon Valley Tech Hub. “We have acquired a space there and we are looking to expand our IT footprints there,” said Mr. Khandelwal. He also said, “We are also looking to get into freshmen recruitment. Currently, we do not have any on-campus recruitment. We hire trained people, experienced people and deliver. But we have realised that we need to nurture new skills.”

Harsh then told us about his journey from an SAP consultant fresh out of college to the CEO of a consulting firm. He shared with us, “I started my career once I graduated from the US, I started my career as an SAP consultant, so I have been a consultant myself before I started this company.” He added, “So, I have been there, done that and know how consulting goes. I am hands-on, I look into the day-to-day affairs.” Harsh further said that coming from the ground up has taught him a great deal about consulting. 

For our next question, we asked Harsh how SGN Software manages a globally spread out clientele, to which his response was, “That’s our MSP. We are an SME company and flexibility is our backbone.” “We have worked with companies, mostly family-run businesses and we show flexibility in our day-to-day delivery mechanism. My mandate to my team is, ‘Keep the customer happy,’ it’s customer first. We go by the word of reference.” He finished the thought by saying, “Flexibility and adaptability with the customer have been the growth mantra over here.”

Talking about talent in the IT industry, Mr. Khandelwal said, “What I have also realized is that we need to build talent. Talent still has a shortage and the new technology, be it machine learning, advanced data analytics, there are hardly any resources available. And if there is resource available, there are big guys in the market – the leading companies – be it the Accentures, the IBMs who hire them. For a small company like us, we need to build our own resource.” 

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‘Magic of 80s’: Raj Babbar & Padmini Kolhapure talk about their latest web series Dil Bekaraar

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Actors Raj Babbar and Padmini Kolhapure joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of its special series NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the duo spoke about their latest web series Dil Bekaraar on Hotstar, which is set in the 80s.

Speaking about what attracted him to the show, Raj Babbar said, “My first priority is my work. I give a lot of time to a lot of things but I thought this is my identity. If I am known as Raj Babbar, it is because of Mumbai and the Hindi Film Industry recognised me as a performer. No matter where I go, people recognise me as an actor and then other adjectives on whatever I am. I realise that I should give priority to the actor side of me, which gave me this recognition and gave me a place in the society. That’s why I feel my first priority is my work.”

He added, “When I heard this story, I remembered a book that I had read sometime in the past. It was a bestseller at that time. It was called, ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ and it stayed in the mind. When I heard this story, I felt very nice, a very interesting subject and I am doing a very beautiful role in it. I found the innocence of 80s, magic of 80s in this. That romance, the comedy, all of this is beautifully captured in this. The USP of the 80s that people used to think is evil is the corruption and the corrupt is the evil. These fiery girls, my 5 daughters, they are brilliant and also very fiery and ambitious. It is this very interesting thing, which attracted me. When I heard the narration and got to know that Padmini ji and Poonam ji are doing this, I said okay. I got this confidence that we will be in majority. Meher and Akshay are beautiful actors. They are very energetic people and it was fun working with them.”

When the same question was posed to Padmini Kolhapure, she responded, “The first attraction was Mr Habib Faisal. I have seen his work and he is a brilliant director. After working with him, I realised truly how meticulous he is. This script and this story demanded a lot of nuances to recreate the 80s era, which he has done brilliantly. He has lived that era and knows a lot about it. We have been there and done that so it wasn’t very difficult for Raj, Poonam or me to do this. More challenging probably for the youngsters because they don’t know what the 80s era was. I am sure that they would have had to work on every little thing. Second thing was the production house, so it was Smriti Shinde and Sobo films and then the OTT platform, which was Disney + Hotstar, so what better could I have asked for. You have Raj Babbar, Poonam Dhillon, Akshay, Seher, Aditya. This entire ensemble cast and to top it all, my role. It being a web series, it runs into a couple of episodes so it was not like I am playing a primary character in it but I am playing a very important role. It is a very colourful role, which I was quite amused while performing. Every time I would finish my role, I would just look back and laugh. I’d say to myself, ‘what am I doing?’. It is really beautiful when you are an actor and performing such challenging roles. You realise what an actor you can be and what can come out. With a good director and co-actors, you can just create magic.”

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GFI LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO STRENGTHEN FARMER PRODUCER ORGANISATIONS

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Grameen Foundation India (GFI) on Monday launched a special initiative ‘Catalyst Award’ under its MANDI (Market Enabled Access through Digital Innovation) project to support and develop the farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in Uttar Pradesh.

Speaking at the event, Prabhat Labh, Chief Executive Officer, GFI said, “Smallholder farmers, especially women, play the most critical role in ensuring food security in Uttar Pradesh. Grameen’s endeavour is to recognise the role of women smallholder farmers, and support them through linkage to markets, technology and finance in order to increase their incomes.” The MANDI project aims to strengthen the FPO’s capacity to connect smallholder farmers, especially women, to markets and finance, in order to improve farmers’ incomes and resilience. It predominantly works on four thematic areas such as financial linkage, access to market, FPO capacity building on day-to-day operation and compliance, and gender mainstreaming. It also focuses on leveraging data for decision-making and facilitates need-based modern technologies. The MANDI project is implemented by GFI in partnership with Walmart Foundation.

The Catalyst Award is a financial assistance program being offered to select FPOs to support their long-term institutional strengthening and growth. The financial assistance being extended to the FPOs would help them in serving their members, particularly women and smallholder farmers in a better and organised manner. The awards were given at a one-day workshop organized on Monday, 29 November 2021 on “FPO strengthening through Gender Mainstreaming” at the Shatabdi Krishi Prekshagrih, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.

Addressing the participants, Mahendra Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture, Government of Uttar Pradesh said, “FPOs can become business entities serving needs of small and marginal farmers and focusing on women participation. FPOs should focus on market and financial linkages to benefit shareholder farmers.”

The day also saw the launch of another initiative on which GFI is collaborating with ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics). Under the collaboration, it has developed a support fund for the FPCs (Farmer Producer Companies) in response to Covid-19 pandemic mainly to cope better with situation brought on by the pandemic. FPC support fund (FSF) is being given for promotion and expansion of business activities being conducted by registered FPCs promoted under the MANDI project. A total amount of INR 4.5 lakh will be given to the FPCs.

The overall objective is to provide immediate support to FPCs which will help the project beneficiaries cope better with the pandemic while building resilience and bringing things back on track— by providing access to ‘working capital’ to the farmers through the FPCs, so that the farmers can continue with their farming operations uninterruptedly. This will also help FPCs for strengthening business activities, innovative product and services design and delivery which will help the farmer members of FPCs. The program is implemented through GFI’s subsidiary Grameen Foundation for Social Impact (GFSI) with support from ICRISAT and would cover four districts of Ghazipur, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Prayagraj and would benefit about 11,500 farmers.

This event is part of a series of activities being organised by the GFI for generating awareness among the stakeholders of FPOs, and creating an ecosystem to foster women’s empowerment in agriculture. It aims to sensitise stakeholders on increasing women’s participation in decision-making and in the entire FPO value chain.

About 146 attendees representing FPOs, experts from financial technology, markets and convergence participated in the event and subsequent workshop. The companies such as Blue Soils, UPPRO (State Level Federation of FPOs of Uttar Pradesh), EF Polymer also displayed their products and services.

Grameen Foundation India is a leading social impact organisation, working on financial inclusion, agriculture-based livelihoods and health and nutrition initiatives with the mission to enable the poor, especially women to overcome poverty and hunger. Inspired by the work of Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, Grameen provides works in partnership with leading development organisations in India to ideate, innovate and scale breakthrough solutions that reach underserved populations, particularly women.

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