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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Author Interview : Gunjan Jain, author of 'She Walks, She Leads' (Part 2)

Read up, the second part of the Interview with Gunjan Jain, author of 'She Walks, She Leads' (Part 2). In this,  she tells us the goal behind the book and if she has achieved it, the most challenging part of the book, the common thread, she felt that brought the personalities together, words of wisdom from this huge project of hers for all the upcoming authors, and much more, Folks...

What was the goal in your mind as you worked on this book? Do you feel you have achieved it?  

The one thing that I had almost always been certain about was the purpose behind this book. What it was going to serve to all its readers, and what they could take back with them was, in fact, the one thing I had no ambiguity about. I wanted the book to dwell on the struggles, setbacks and perils of the protagonists. Merely reading about success stories without insights on the drudgery it invariably takes to get there can hardly hope to inspire or motivate. 

I wanted my book to shift the spotlight from the peaks these ladies command today, to the long and hard climb they had to attempt to reach there. It is about leadership values. Through this book I wish to inspire generations of girls and women, and men, to push the boundaries. 

I think I have been successful in establishing that message in my book, how well it travels and reaches the intended audience is not within my country. The effort has been genuine so I am hopeful that it will resonate with the readers.

Gunjan Jain
In the preface you talk about your vision for the book and how you hope it inspires future generations as they work towards their dreams. How do you plan to take your vision further? 

The past few years have been a phenomenal learning phase for me. I have led a fairly protected existence so far. This book has opened me up to a broader view of my surroundings and has compelled me to play a more engaging role with the world I live in.

One thing that has become an intrinsic part of my life is to pursue the cause of upliftment of women in our country. I must add that the protagonists of my book had no small role in this decision. Each of them is a passionate philanthropist, and dedicates at least some part of their lives to better that of others. Through my interactions with them that I realised just how malignant the situation was … and how deeply worrying the plight of the girl child still is. 

If the eschewed sex ratio is not enough of an indicator – all it takes is a slightly more perceptive outlook towards the situation around you, near you, perhaps the very environment you are in right now. With time, I hope that I can channelise my work in this domain through a more structured and constructive channel to ensure that my efforts have a far reaching effect.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? 

Every stage was a challenge. The number of interviews. Expansive lives – extensive research. How do I restrict it within the word count?! What to keep, what to leave out! 

The most challenging aspect was definitely the writing aspect because while writing has always been a hobby and I have been writing through school and college, this was a writing project of a different proportion altogether. 

You met and spoke to so many exceptional personalities, what would you
Kareena Kapoor from Wikipedia
say was the common thread that ties them all together? 

The journey of each woman is different specific to her complications that she faced and her inherent personality. The common thread is the value system that guides their way of life. 

For instance, the book features Kareena Kapoor Khan, born into one of India’s first Bollywood families and it also includes Priyanka Chopra who had absolutely no film connection. Kareena was to the manner born, which is a help up to a point; Priyanka Chopra had her Miss World title, but thereafter, it was sheer tenacity and self-belief that pushed them up from rung to rung towards success. 

Naina Lal Kidwai from Wikipedia
Naina Lal Kidwai, shattering many male bastions with a thunderclap, is very different from the quiet and unassuming way in which Rajashree Birla grew into her role as matriarch and philanthropist. Where Saina Nehwal trained her
Mary Kom fromWikipedia
sights on becoming a badminton player from an early age, Mary Kom found her calling a little later. But, both chased their dream with the same kind of passion. 

What is clear to me is that these are women who do not merely boast of a set of skills or a bag of accomplishments, but live their lives in a way that is conducive to success.

‘She Walks, She Leads’ embodies the fact that gender bias has no place in our society. Yet, there are some who feel that women and men are born with different skill sets and have different strengths and weaknesses, which they both must work with. What are your thoughts? 

In the course of my writing ‘She Walks, She Leads’, I was asked this one particular question several times, and by a diverse set of people. 

Why only women leaders? There are enough greats in this country – men and women – and shouldn’t you be looking beyond this obvious gender-bias? My answer to them was simple and, if I may add, barefaced: by focusing on women, my book was in fact attempting to take on just this gender-bias. A bias that is so ingrained into our milieu that it doesn’t even seem like an aberration anymore.

Clearly, ‘She Walks, She Leads’ has been a mammoth project. Add to that, you took it on with no experience. Any words of wisdom for the aspiring authors out there? 

I think I have a long way to go in my journey as an author before I can dole out any words of wisdom. But, based on my experience I can say that writing is hard work and it requires a disciplined, thought-out approach like any other task does.

Also, the importance of belief in self, in your abilities and in your project is crucial because that is what will push you through the darkest and most difficult of times. At the end of it though, the satisfaction of seeing your name on the product of all your efforts is worth it all.

What’s next? Have you started on your next project? Please share some details on it with us. 

A long, long holiday on a beach, doing absolutely nothing! Seriously though, I haven’t planned ahead much. I have a couple of ideas for my next book but I’ll reveal more about them in time. 

For now, I want to savour the fact that ‘She Walks, She Leads’ is complete and on its way to finding its readers.  

You can Read the First Part of this Interview right here, Read the Review here and Buy the Book  here, as well.

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