Meet Bappaditya, The Man Who Is Here To Transform The World With Fascinating Stories Of Change

Posted on March 21, 2014 in Domestic Violence, Interviews, Taboos, Volunteerism

By Anwesha Dhar:

When I was very young, my mother often used to tell me that you don’t need to do something great to usher in change. It can be a small step, but no matter how trivial it may appear to be at the moment, there will come a time when it will show its significance. The story of Prantakatha and Bappaditya Mukherjee somehow reminds me of this anecdote. Reminiscing about his first step to lead change, Bappaditya goes back six-seven years. “I was working at a TV channel,” he says, “when I found out that my sister was facing domestic violence. In spite of being involved in media, I could do little to ameliorate her condition. It was then that I resolved to do something and thus, the journey of ‘Prantakatha’ started.

bappaditya

The word ‘Prantakatha’ is itself quite interesting. In Bengali, as in some other Indian languages, it roughly translates to ‘the voice of the margin.’ “I was quite appalled by the dearth of avenues available to voice grievance or opinions. Especially when it came to youth, I noticed that there was no platform available to them. That is when I decided to name this initiative Prantakatha.”

Bappaditya believes that the youth has its own vision in place, “It is developed…futuristic. However, this vision which can prove to be so useful for the society is ignored, marginalised. Prantakatha is a collection of narratives of changes from such marginalised voices.”

Started around 2006-2007, Prantakatha has spread its network to rural places of West Bengal and seeks to connect and inspire youth. “We wish to make them understand that societal work is done for oneself, more than the society. You work towards a better society so that you yourself, along with others, can lead a better life, can dream towards a better future.

Prantakatha has grown since then, from a young man’s vision of awakening the unutilised potential of young people to a formal organisation that runs programmes to develop leadership skills, help youngsters to find strong economic footing, sensitising people about gender issues etc. Bappaditya recalls many such success stories where he felt he was able to take a step forward towards achieving his vision. “We recently helped this boy from Laalbati area to complete his studies surrounding the food industry and later, open his own shop. I feel we were able to give him a proper direction in life.”

One of the recent campaigns that Prantakatha has launched called ‘Love Stories’ has created quite a buzz among people. “Love Story campaign is an attempt on our part to break barriers that exist in the society. We are collecting love stories of all kinds in form of letters-from inter-caste to queer communities and plan to publish it in an anthology on 14th February 2015, exactly a year from when we launched it.”

Bappaditya admits the challenges one faces on taking a career path not considered ‘safe’,People in general exhibit a lack of faith when it comes to beginners. A reasonable good idea may get little or no backing if it is coming from a beginner. Often bright people get disillusioned like this because they fail to sustain themselves after facing constant bereavement.” West Bengal, he says, has problems of its own in addition to this, “It is a highly polarised situation here. It is very difficult for anyone not to get mired in the power-play.”

The bigger picture, however, is not that bleak. “Youth has started to put some thought into the society. In our days, the word ‘social entrepreneurship’ did not even exist. The most people used to say, was that this boy is ‘doing NGO work’. The scenario has changed now; colleges and school have special social credits. It has been incentivised.” India, he believes, is a melting pot of opportunities. “We need to learn how to capitalise on these available opportunities. It is an emerging country, a change of mindset is imminent.”

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