A lazy Sunday was rocked by the news of the young 34-year-old talented Sushant Singh Rajput’s death allegedly by committing suicide, as confirmed by the early reports of the police. As the news spread, sympathies poured in from different corners of the world on social media, TRPs of media channels flew with theories and counter-theories on conspiracy and the dark secret gallows of Bollywood. It also opened up a Pandora’s box for mental health discussions and the need to address depression.
Research suggests that stereotypes about mental illness often stop people from speaking out or seeking treatment. Incidents like these spark the conversations of four main kinds: One that empathises; second that questions; the suggestive third that talks about “keeping in touch” and “asking for a hug”; and the important fourth that is driven by the missing carbohydrates in the proteinbased fad diets of the millennials.
Data shows that in the UK and the US 80% of the suicides are caused due to depression but the demography in India shows a different story. Suicides in India are impulsive. To quote Dr Soumitra Pathare, who drafted India’s mental health law, “Half the suicides in India do not have a diagnosable mental illness.” In fact, a deeper study shows that in India suicide victims are more distressed than depressed.
Albert Camus had once said, “There is only one really serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that.” Everyone answers the question in his way.
Hence, my take is that change in the ecosystem and the community you belong to at large are the key interventions required to tackle suicides as a whole. That drives us down to Bollywood and how the ecosystem is responding to carve heroes out of the ordinary and reject the “unfit”. Only the unfit more often are the talented, hardworking outsider.
This is what I call the “Sushant Singh Syndrome” — the Quintessential Outsider who was a smalltown boy from Bihar with big dreams, big talent, and grit to not toe the line. He had everything from the outside — dreams, success, money, women and future — yet, for everyone else in the industry he was a crossover, a television star who did not belong to the world of movies.
I have been an outsider to the field of politics and can vouch for the fact that as an outsider you only have two choices: one to follow the rules set by the nexus of settled, nepotism-driven dominant cartels, or be an outlier creating a distinct personal-spiritual path of success. The second, however, needs immense strength of mind and body and an attitude to accept failure, because that comes often and fast.
Though what I call as the Sushant Singh Syndrome is relevant for nearly all sectors — politics, construction, businesses but Bollywood stands out because stars are always under incessant media and public glare. Failure usually comes as a lifelong stamp and success and fame have a price tag that includes a great body, expensive lifestyle, party invites, and social acceptance.
The Bolly-Nexus consists of 50-year-old production houses, PR firms, paparazzi, financiers, distributors, and elite families that have ruled the city of dreams for years. Any “Outsider” that tries to fit-in, relying merely on talent, is an outcast and reminded time and again of his “unbelongingness” to the fraternity.
One of the counter-reactions to this debate is the acceptance of various socalled outsiders, the King Khan who in all sense is the breakout superstar of all times, or Akshay Kumar, or for that matter Sonu Sood.
Follow their journeys closely and you will find out how they became a part and parcel of the nexus and secured their seats to gain their powers to veto. Unfortunately, from casting to counting crores at the box office is governed by this nexus.
Creating barriers of entry for competitors is a longdrawn management principle; it is when unfair means are used to curb competition — cartels are formed. The Ravishing Divya Bharti fell prey to the same nexus that first celebrated the uprising and then witnessed the downfall of Jia Khan. But we have seen a few survivors too: Priyanka Chopra who saw a fallout with the nexus created a distinct niche path for herself which left even the privileged in awe of her. Many others have kept a safe distance from this nexus but had to create parallel production and distribution channels. The Shetty-Devgan pair has been a good example of this. Most, however, try to either fit-in or keep them in good humour.
Sushant was a simple young man; he was an engineer who had dreams and plans beyond films, his bucket list included sending underprivileged children to NASA; his assets apart from a Maserati included a telescope; his memorable acts apart from playing M.S. Dhoni included playing a Samaritan who a donated a sum of Rs 1 crore for the Kerala floods.
He was hugely successful in the eyes of the segment he came from who saw him rise from nothing to the top, but could not audition his way to the privileged class.
The story of Sushant Singh Rajput is over but the show will go on. The curtains have been drawn on the struggles of another outsider but the Sushant Singh Syndrome will stay on and haunt others like him who want to make a mark but does not fit in.
The author is a politician, entrepreneur, tech enthusiast, blogger, columnist, TEDx speaker, SDG and government policy expert.
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Celebrating ‘100 years of Bollywood’
In commemoration of ‘100 years of Bollywood’, a live audio-visual musical journey of songs from 1913 to 2013, covering songs from Raja Harishchandra to Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, from Prithviraj Kapoor to Ranbir Kapoor, from Saigal to Sonu Nigam, will be held. The event, which will also be a fundraiser, will be organised by Gunjan Foundation at Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, at 06:30 p.m on 10 October, 2022. The proceeds from this show will go towards the education of underprivileged children, for the foundation expects all children in the community to learn and experience school education.
Sushma Singhvi founded the Gunjan Foundation, a non-governmental social organization, in 2004 with the mission of pursuing educational and other welfare measures to uplift marginalised sections of society.
The Gunjan Foundation is providing full scholarships to about 200 school students. It has now widened its horizons further. Its vision also includes continuing to support advanced and professional courses in the future. For the past five years, Gunjan has been financially supporting four to five marginalised students who are pursuing such advanced and professional courses. This year, Gunjan Foundation’s first batch has passed out from the 12th grade, ready to embrace the growth opportunities of the world. Not wanting to leave these students midstream, it is also Gunjan’s endeavour now to see these students through college. The Gunjan Foundation is planning to provide scholarships to deserving students for higher studies.
Dussehra brings business back on track for effigy makers
Every year, Dussehra is celebrated to commemorate the triumph of good over evil as Lord Rama killed Ravana on this day. The festival is celebrated in full swing across the country by burning the effigies of Ravan, Kumbhkaran, and Meghnath.
After a hiatus of a few years, the effigy business is getting back on track.
Earlier, Naveen, a local artisan from Titarpur in New Delhi, revealed, “People are coming back in huge numbers to book Ravan effigies. Due to Covid, during the past few years, the business was not so good, but things are getting better now and customers are back. But now, the rates of effigies are a bit higher as compared to previous times. Now it costs Rs 500 per foot. We began the preparation two months ahead of the festival and we start the deliveries two days before Dussehra.”
“During Covid, Ravan idols were made in fewer numbers. We used to create only small mannequins of 5 feet and 10 feet for the common people, who could burn those effigies on the streets. But this year, the situation is quite different. We are celebrating every festival and the effigy business is also going really well. The craze among the people for Dussehra is very high. We are flooded with bookings this year. This year, we will see a good hike in sales. We have been working day and night for the past two months to create these effigies. We create effigies from five feet to fifty feet and the pricing begins from Rs 500 per foot, “Sonu, a local artist said.
On being asked whether the firecracker ban has affected the sales in Delhi or not, Naveen said, “No, it doesn’t matter. We only construct the effigies. It’s the customer’s choice to put firecrackers in them or not. They do it by themselves. People opt for eco-friendly firecrackers to create less pollution during Dussehra. “
Effigy maker Poonam said, “Yes, we are facing a big loss due to the firecracker ban by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. Every year, CM Kejriwal puts a ban on firecrackers. During Diwali, everyone bursts crackers, but only during Dussehra, he puts a ban on them. We don’t put crackers in the effigies; people bring them and put them on their own. But because of the ban, there has been a huge downfall in the number of clients. Mostly, the customers cancel their already booked orders due to the ban. If the government doesn’t want us to do our business, then simply tell us. We don’t want to face loss at the last moment. “
“The number of firecrackers has now been reduced from 500 to 300 by CM Kejriwal. We don’t put crackers in the mannequins; that’s the customer’s call whether to put crackers or not,” said Mahendra Karari, Ravan effigy creator.
Apart from making effigies during the festive season, local vendors indulge in their different businesses for the rest of the year for their source of income.
“Dussehra festival comes once a year, and we have our other source of income as well. I am a driver for the whole year. But during Dussehra, I have made Ravan since my childhood in Titarpur, said Naveen.
Karari said, “We work in the hotel line during the whole year, and some of us work in brass bands during the marriage season, and some people work at local sweet shops.”
In some regions, the celebration, also known as Vijayadashami, celebrates Goddess Durga’s triumph over the buffalo Demon Mahishasura.
Why Dussehra holds an important place in Indian culture
ussehra, or Vijayadashami, as many call it, is one of the most important festivals in India. In the northern Indian states, it’s called Dussehra, while in West Bengal, it’s called Vijayadashami.
Dusshera falls on the tenth day of Sharada Navratri. However, despite the fact that celebrations and cultural practices vary according to the location in India’s culturally rich country, the festival’s fabric that binds everyone together remains.
Dussehra symbolises the triumph of good over evil, and it is tied to two stories. After a fierce battle that lasted more than nine days, it is said that Maa Durga conquered Mahishasura on this day. According to another tale, Dussehra is observed to commemorate Lord Rama’s victory over Lanka’s ten-headed evil king, Ravana.
The tenth day of Navratri, which is comprised of nine days dedicated to honouring each form of Goddess Durga, is Dussehra. Vijayadashami, on the other hand, is the day of victory. While some connect it to the famous Ramayana conflict, others do it to remember Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demonic Mahishasura.
In some regions of the country, Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami or Dasain, makes way for the Diwali celebrations.
Twenty days after Dussehra, one of the most significant and widely celebrated festivals, the festival of lights, Diwali, commemorates Lord Rama’s return home following his victory over Ravana. However, the main message of the Dussehra festival is that of good triumphing over evil, and it is on this day that people pray for prosperity and good health.
The nine days of Navratri culminate in the killing of Ravana and the burning of his life-size effigy at the Ramlila, together with those of Meghnad and Kumbhakaran, on the day of Dussehra, or Vijayadashami, when the holiday is celebrated with great grandeur.
As each of Ravana’s heads represents a different negative attribute, Dussehra also represents purging oneself of sins or undesirable traits.
In several southern Indian states, Shami Puja is also known as Banni Puja and Jammi Puja. Devotees wish Maa Durga farewell on Dashami, and the visarjan is performed either at Aparahna time or Pratahkala while Dashami Tithi is in effect.
The tenth day is also known as Vijayadashmi, when Maa Durga’s idol is submerged in water in the hopes that she will keep an eye on them and fend off all misfortunes and evils. Vijayadashmi and Dussehra commemorate the triumph of good over evil, and worshippers celebrate the festivals by indulging in various foods with their loved ones.
136 ft Durga Puja pandal to enter Guinness Book as world’s tallest
A 136 ft tall puja pandal in the capital of Uttar Pradesh is going to attract everyone’s attention. The Durga Puja pandal, situated in Jankipuram, Lucknow, is going to be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest ever.
The pandal is a replica of the under-construction Chandrodaya temple of Vrindavan, which is built to be one of the tallest religious monuments in the world with a height of above 700 ft and spread over a 5,40,000 sq ft area.
The pandal stands tall in the middle of Durga Puja Park in Jankipuram. It was built by the Utsav Puja Committee, which has also been celebrating the Puja for the last 28 years.
While emphasising the features of this tallest pandal, Rakesh Pandey, General Secretary of the Durga Puja committee, said, “This entire pandal has been built by 52 artisans from Kolkata and Assam and a time of over one month has been taken to build this tallest pandal.”
“A total of Rs 32 lakhs has been spent on making this tallest Durga Puja pandal. Every day about 70 thousand devotees come to the pandal to offer their prayers to Durga Maa”, Rakesh Pandey said further.
PM Modi arrives at International Kullu Dussehra festival
Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a warm welcome as he arrived for the international Kullu Dussehra Festival today. He will be participating in the Dusshera festival here for the first time.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended greetings to citizens on the occasion of Dussehra and expressed his happiness to be a part of the International Kullu Dussehra Festival that is to be celebrated here from October 5 to 11 at the Dhalpur Ground in Kullu.
The festival is unique in the sense that it is the congregation of more than 300 deities of the valley. On the first day of the festival, obeisance will be paid to the deities in their well-decorated palanquins at the temple of the Chief Deity Bhagwan Raghunath Ji, and then it proceeds to the Dhalpur Ground.
“I am elated to provide the citizens of Himachal Pradesh with the gifts of projects in education, health, and infrastructure worth thousands of crores,” PM Modi said, adding that he will seek the blessings of the country by joining the Raghunath Ji Yatra.
“I am very fortunate to participate in the Kullu festival after so many years,” he added.
The Prime Minister will witness this divine Rath Yatra and the grand assembly of the Deities in the historic Kullu Dussehra celebrations.
PM Modi’s remarks came after he inaugurated AIIMS Bilaspur and laid the foundation stone of multiple development projects here.
On Independence Day, referring to the Amrit Kaal—the next 25 years till 2047, when India will be marking 100 years of Independence—the Prime Minister urged people to focus on “Panch Pran’ (five vows).
He said the country has met various challenges in the past 75 years and there were certain unfulfilled dreams, “the next 25 years are very significant for our country.” He explained the five vows.
The first vow is for the people to move ahead with a strong resolve for a “developed India”. “We should not settle for anything less than that,”
The second resolve is that “in no part of our existence, not even in the deepest corners of our minds or habits, should there be any ounce of slavery”.
The third resolution urged Indians to be proud of their country’s heritage and legacy.
He said the fourth resolution, which is equally important, is unity and solidarity.
“Amongst 130 million countrymen, when there is harmony and bonhomie, unity becomes its strongest virtue. “On August 15, Prime Minister Modi stated.
PM Modi said the fifth vow is the “duty of the citizens,” in which even the Prime Minister, Chief Minister cannot be excluded as they are also responsible citizens and have a duty towards the nation”.
13 Indians caught up in fake IT job scam rescued from Myanmar
India announced on Wednesday that 13 more of its citizens had been rescued from Myanmar after being lured there under the pretext of lucrative IT jobs and the officials were in contact with Laos and Cambodia to assist in the repatriation of more victims of similar frauds.
After more than 100 workers were recruited by dubious IT companies to work in Myanmar, the external affairs ministry issued a warning to Indian citizens on September 24 about fake job offers being circulated on social media platforms. 32 Indian citizens were rescued from a remote area of Myanmar last month after being forced to work under difficult circumstances by businesses involved in digital fraud and fake crypto currency activities.
“We have been actively pursuing the case of Indians being trapped in fake job rackets in Myanmar. Thanks to the efforts of @IndiainMyanmar & @IndiainThailand, around 32 Indians had already been rescued. Another 13 Indian citizens have now been rescued, & reached Tamil Nadu today,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
Bagchi said some more Indian citizens had also been rescued from “fake employers” and were in the custody of Myanmar authorities for “illegal entry into that country”. Legal formalities have been initiated to get them “repatriated at the earliest”, he said.
Instances of similar job rackets have come to light in Laos and Cambodia, and Indian embassies in Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Bangkok have been helping repatriate people from these countries, Bagchi said.
Details of agents allegedly involved in the job racket have been shared with authorities in various states for appropriate action. “We would reiterate extreme caution in accepting dubious employment offers overseas,” Bagchi added.
According to recent reports in US and Cambodian media, officials in Cambodia conducted a number of searches in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville against cybercriminal organisations linked to the “pig butchering” scam. The word “fatten” refers to the process of a farmer fattening a hog before butchering it. The deception depends on getting victims to keep depositing money into phoney websites run by con artists, according to the investigative journalism website ProPublica.
“Workers from around Asia are tricked into going to Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar for seemingly well-paid jobs that instead trap them inside scam sweatshops run by Chinese criminal syndicates. Those who resist directives to engage in online fraud face beatings, food deprivation or worse,” ProPublica reported.
Victims of the scam in the US, Canada and other countries lost huge amounts of money, sometimes more than a million dollars to fraudsters who convinced them to download a trading app called MetaTrader and deposit their savings in sham brokerages accessible via the app, according to the report.
Since mid-September, police operations in three locations in Cambodia have released thousands of workers who were being held against their will. The Sihanoukville raids between September 18 and 22 resulted in the release of 1,480 foreign citizens from India, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, according to numbers from the provincial police quoted by Cambodia’s VOD News. The precise number of Indian citizens was not immediately known.
The Indian embassy in Cambodia tweeted on September 24 that 14 Indian nationals had been rescued from “human trafficking gangs”, and reiterated a warning that citizens intending to visit the country for employment or business should check the background of the firms offering jobs.
People familiar with the matter earlier said that Indian embassies in Myanmar and Thailand were in touch with some 50 Indians who sought help, though some reports have suggested that up to 300 Indian workers may have been illegally taken to the Myawaddy area in Myanmar to work for rackets engaged in call-centre scams and crypto-currency fraud.
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