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Serving Society and Opening New Vistas

Serving Society and Opening New Vistas

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  22 Feb 2019 1:02 PM GMT

Our Bureau

‘As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.’

- Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Service to others and society is one of the keys to attaining personal satisfaction and success in our own lives. Those who live a life by servicing others not only live a life of greatness but also excel in their own respective fields. In this issue of mélange, we would like to introduce our readers with Jutika Mahanta, a Mumbai-based community worker who has been striving to work for the welfare of the Assamese community while at the same time, establishing new vistas for Assam across the globe.

A rooted Assamese woman who has been working tirelessly for the betterment of Assamese community in Mumbai, Jutika has served as Jt Secy and ‘Women Representative’ of Assam Association, Mumbai for many years and represented NE India in Western India in various platforms! She has been actively helping end number of cancer patients who come to Mumbai for better treatment (on her individual capacity) for more than a decade now.

But besides her work as a social activist, she has also been playing a pivotal role in establishing new vistas of Assam with other parts of the world. A mother of two, she was nominated as the “International Planning Coordinator’ for ‘Axam Xahitya Xabha’ and was instrumental in setting up branches of the apex body in Singapore and in initiating literary exchanges between ‘Axam Xahitya Xabha’ and ‘Marathi Sahitya Parishad’.

On the professional front, Jutika is currently working as a Consultant to India for a leading MNC from Japan. A highly enterprising women entrepreneur, she has made it to the list of '51 Most Inspiring Women of India' by ICICI and her inspiring story has been featured in various exhibitions in many cities of India under 'My Identity My Pride' Series. Her life journey has also been featured in a coffee table book, ‘Celebrating Women', alongside many stalwarts like Padmashree Sindhu Tai Sakpal, Padmashree Biru Bala Rabha, etc. She has also been acknowledged as a leading Women Entrepreneur of Northeast India in the 1st Sikkim First Red Carpet Social Awards in 2018 for her initiative Bollywood Couch.

Jutika is also the proud recipient of “Lioness Award: Gold National Award for Woman of Strength at First National Women Leadership Conference held in Hyderabad and supported by United Nation and Govt of Telengana. In a recent conversation with mélange, Jutika talks about her journey so far

  1. Please tell us about your childhood and growing up days.

Ans: I was born and brought up in Sonapur town near Guwahati city along with my brother and two sisters. My father Giridhar Mahanta was serving as the BDO during those days and I did my schooling in Lakhipur (Goalpara) on account of my father’s job posting. In 1990, we shifted back to Sonapur and I joined Sonapur Girls High School and matriculated from there. After completing my HSLC, I joined Sonapur College and later sifted to Pune in 2000 for higher studies. I did my Master in English Literature and MMM (Masters in Marketing Management) from Pune University and began my professional career in Pune itself. Both my sisters, Urmila and Munmi, joined me in Pune for their higher studies as well.

I am blessed to born in an evolved family where both my parents encouraged us to be independent and take decisions on our own. My mother Mrs Ramala Mahanta is the life-line of our family as my father kept serving his duties in different parts of the state. She single-handedly raised all four of us and made us equally accomplished. My mother taught us the values, tradition, customs and power of woman from a very tender age! We learnt a lot by seeing her raising us without much support!

Even in a small place like Sonapur, my father encouraged all four of us to ride cycles, scooters and even four wheelers during those days and I realised his progressive mind-set which has made us empowered today! The support of my three siblings – my brother Munindra and my two sisters – have been incomparable and I am grateful to God for blessing me with such a loving, caring and supporting family.

  1. When did you shift to Mumbai? Please tell us about your activities towards promoting Assam and Assamese culture in Mumbai.

Ans: I shifted to Mumbai in 2007 after my marriage with Hridoy Deka, son of Chitradhar Deka and Pramila Deka of Rangia. Initially I started my work at an individual level. I later got associated with Assam Association Mumbai as Woman Representative and Joint Secretary respectively and continued working towards promoting Assamese art and culture in the western part of the country.

As of now, I am working not only for promoting Assam but also for the entire Northeast in India and abroad. I am thankful to various student and apex bodies of north-eastern States in Mumbai which extend all kinds of help in promoting NE out here. At a personal level, I try my best to help cancer patients who come to Mumbai for better treatment. I help them by arranging accommodation, fixing appointments with doctors and connecting them to various NGO’s which offer financial and medical support to poor cancer patients. I also volunteer for few Mumbai-based NGOs and try my bit to give a bit back to the society. I am also associated with Gagana - an Assamese community organisation of Mumbai and support them in organising cultural programmes in Mumbai to promote our culture. In addition to that, I also extend my helping hand to the University of Mumbai and many other associations in organising any programs related to the Northeast.

  1. You have played a pivotal role in establishing branches of Axom Xahitya Xabha in Mumbai and other parts of the world. Please tell us about your activities in this direction.

Ans: My father Giridhar Mahanta is an integral part of Asom Sahitya Sabha and he has introduced me to the core committee of Asom Sahitya Sabha, as a result of which I worked towards setting up branches of the apex organization in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. I also discovered the value of literary exchanges and hence connected the Marathi Sahitya Sangh to collaborate with Asom Sahitya Sabha. When office bearer of AXX visited Mumbai last year, we set up the Gagana Sakha Sahitya Sabha, Mumbai and tied up with Marathi Sahitya Sangh where we initiated the process of translating 5 classics from Assamese to Marathi and vice-versa.

Similarly when I visited Singapore, I insisted my friend Bazid Ahmed for setting up a branch in Singapore itself. He was quite excited and worked toward materialising the plan. Today we have Singapore Sahitya Sabha Branch which has been serving as the gateway to entire South East Asia. For Maharashtra I am currently in touch with Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Pune, Nashik for setting up new branches and promote literary exchange.

Similarly I also initiated discussion with the Assamese diaspora in Bangkok to set up a branch and start literary exchanges between Assam and Thailand. Same goes with the diaspora in Australia, Sri Lanka and Japan as well.

  1. You have been featured in a coffee table book as well as a series of journals. How do you feel at the recognition?

Ans: I feel good and also humble at the same time. Any kind of recognition encourages us to work further. When I made it to the list of ‘51 Most Inspiring Women of India’ by ICICI, it really encouraged me to work more and more. I am glad to made it to the list alongwith stalwarts like Padmashree Sindhu Tai Sakpal, Padmashree Birubala Rabha and many others. I am grateful to my friend Somshubrha Sarkar, the man behind ‘My Identity My Pride Series’. He found my life journey worth sharing amongst all as a result of which my story is a part of the popular coffee table book, ‘Celebrating Women’ and various other exhibitions under ‘My Identity My Pride Series’.

I am blessed to receive many other recognitions in different States of the country. Recently, the Asom Sahitya Sabha acknowledged me with Asom Gaurav Sanman (Akaxar Ramdhenu) in their Raha Adhibexan which remains very special to me as I received it in the presence of my family. Similarly in Telengana (Hyderabad), I was conferred with the Lioness Gold Award for Women of Strength in the month of December, 2018.

Likewise, the 1st Sikkim Red Carpet Social Awards encouraged me as Empowered Women of North East. All these recognition motivates me and strengthens my will to serve my community.

  1. You are presently working as a Indian consultant for a Japanese conglomerate. Please tell us about the same. Also please tell us about Bollywood Couch, which you have started.

Ans: As mentioned earlier, I was working in the media industry till I became a mother. When my son Dhrian (8 years) came to this world, I had to quit my high paying corporate job in the biggest media conglomerate of the country to raise him. I wanted to raise my son as a secure and content child and hence I took a complete one year break from work. When he turned 1, I started working part time in other fields which eventually turned me versatile and confident to work in different sectors.

Later in 2014, my daughter Bipanchi came to this world and history repeated itself. After giving her full attention for a year, I started working part time to balance both my personal and professional fronts. These breaks gave me exposure to world of Media Education, Advertising, Branding, CSR, Sustainability and of course, Marketing. Finally I got the opportunity to work in Japanese giant which I considered as a pure blessing. There is so much to learn from the Japanese people – their dedication, honesty, hard-working nature, loyalty to company, punctuality, ethics, integrity and many other stuff. I report to Tokyo and it’s again a very good learning experience for me.

Today my start-up initiative, Bollywood Couch (www.bollywoodcouch.com), is working towards bridging the gap between Bollywood and NE. Since my husband (Hridoy) and my sister (Urmila) both work in the film industry and I myself was associated with entertainment media, I get many queries from all other industries like Tamil, Telegu, Malayali, Bengali, etc for NE related stuff and that made me understand the gap between NE and the rest of the country. I decided to offer a platform to promote all NE talents, especially in music, art direction, acting, direction, costume, production, etc and that’s how Bollywood Couch came to existence.

  1. Having stayed outside the State, what is the general perception of people towards Assam?

Ans: I have lived equal years of my life in Assam and Maharashtra. Earlier when we were studying, people had no idea about our existence. Autowala’s in Pune used to ask strange questions, like if we need passports to come to India. Fortunately, people have opened their minds and are becoming more acceptable and aware about Assam and the Northeast. Today I find many non-Assamese students performing Bihu dances in their school and the college annual competitions. At the same time, people are learning to admire our authentic fabrics and the demand for traditional Mekhla Chador has also increased.

  1. Please tell us a bit about your family.

Ans: I live with my husband and children here in Mumbai. Both my sisters are based in Mumbai and support me in all possible ways. Their support gives me strength to work and sustain in Mumbai. I am also grateful to my domestic help Babita who takes care of my kids when I am away. As they say – ‘There is a woman behind every successful man.’ I would just like to say that ‘there is a maid behind every successful woman!’

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