Q&A with Kanchan Bhaskar
I was born in New Delhi, to educated and enlightened parents with a modern outlook. The environment at home was progressive, rooted in strong values based on caring, respect, trust, and, most importantly, gender equity. Life was simple, secure, and safe, tight-knit communities, their people warm and humble, bringing a sense of camaraderie and fulfillment. This milieu inside the house and outside the community equipped me with a strong foundation. I most certainly evolved to be a delightful, self-assured young woman.
I have always had a fascination with people. The prevalent caste system, the 122 spoken languages, and the 1650 dialects in a country of 22 states with widely diverse religious beliefs intrigued me. Open discrimination across various tiers of castes dismayed me, and the poverty around me appalled me. The one question that bothered my young and naïve mind was, why such disparity? I got the answers later in life when I studied social sciences, the age-long gaps between haves and have-nots, and the prevalent discrimination among cultures and genders. The most revolting societal norm was the subjugation of women, considered the weaker sex, born only to serve men. The contemplation of studying social sciences to understand human emotions and to work with people and for people had taken roots.
The lingering thought, combined with my desire to work at the grass-root level as well as the main frame society, prompted me to choose a related field of study. After earning my undergraduate degree from Lady Irwin College, I pursued and earned a master’s degree in social work (MSW) in 1978 from Delhi School of Social Work, Delhi University. This is where I joined a small group of women, challenging the societal norm of woman’s oppression and fighting for women’s rights and empowerment. We could not mobilize resources enough to take it to the next level. I continued to pursue my studies with an aspiration to work with blue-collar workers in the Industrial sector and understand their dynamics; I took up a postgraduate certificate in personnel management and industrial relations. During my course work, I worked with people in rural areas, slums, red-light districts, and resettlement colonies to educate them and help them to become independent in their social and economic development. I saw the world around me through a lens of reality, which broadened my viewpoint and kept me grounded. I value that phase of my life and give much credit to those years for building my personality and character and creating confidence and grit in me to face the challenges ahead, as there were plenty to come.
My professional career began in 1987 in Human Resources and development, working for a large conglomerate based out of the USA. I moved to the USA in 2000 and continued working with global companies. My interest and expertise in the thirty years of my career have been strengths development through training, mentoring, counseling, and coaching individuals. I am an ardent optimist and believe in living life to the fullest. Music of any genre or language, vocal or instrumental, keeps me connected to my soul. I like to read fiction, non-fiction, and management books. My inquisitiveness to understand cultures and ethnicities has taken me to travel to Asia and Europe. I rely on basic principles of physics, gut feeling, rewiring of the brain, and Karma theory-As you sow, so shall you reap. I strongly believe in the higher power and power of the universe and that one can regulate one’s destiny. My mantra for remaining mindful is Acceptance, Gratitude, and Forgiveness.
I am a survivor of domestic abuse, but I like to call myself a fighter. I have three loving children, a daughter, and twin boys, who are well-settled in their lives in the USA. I live in Chicago with my Maltipoo, Fifi.
I am a first-time author of a memoir, Leaving- How I set myself free from an abusive marriage. The purpose is to reach out to the victims and survivors of domestic violence through my story and share with them how I transformed to set myself and my children free. I have now transcended into a professional Advocate- mentoring, counseling, and coaching people with domestic violence. I shall continue to do so through the rest of my journey. I am reminded of my favorite lines by Robert Frost: “The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.”