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Exclusive: Coping with the Stigma of Being an Ex Prisoner is not Easy, says Bengali Film Actor Nigel Akkara
By Deepanita Das
Sep 10, 2017:
“Every Fighter has that one fight that makes or breaks him- Elia Kazan.”
The above line sits appropriately on ex-convict turned actor Nigel Akkara who now wears self-belief as an accessory to fight his years of despair. But, what’s more interesting was that he came up with an intriguing idea for hundreds of ex-prisoners who had nothing to look forward to after they come out of prison.
NewsGram got in touch with Nigel Akkara about his take on the life after prison, establishing one of its kind organization to give job opportunities to ex-prisoners, counseling people to live a better life and much more.
What will a person do when completely rational people fail to cooperate or accept one as a part of the society? This is where Kolkata Facilities Management comes under the limelight.
Born in a middle-income Christian family in Kolkata in 1978, life almost went upside down for Akkara, after he stepped into the world of crime at the age of 15.
One day, he went to a barber’s shop, where a fight broke out and as a consequence one person was dead. This was when he was still in school, but soon he got sucked into the crime world and became part of four gangs and got himself involved in kidnapping, extortion and contract killing.
He was arrested in December 2000 for his crimes and after serving nine years in jail. He says how ironic it is that life after coming out of prison was much more challenging than it was while staying inside it.
When people around you become tone-deaf, it is time to be the ‘change’ rather hoping for one to happen. This is something Akkara believed in and followed with all his heart.
Akara was released from prison in 2009. “I will not deny it, that you carry a tag of being a criminal, it is indeed a psychological dilemma and people around you will look at you in a particular manner,” he said.
Uncertain about what to do after spending time in jail, and being rejected by several organizations due to “ex-prisoner” tag, he lost hope for a while and sat near the Tea Board of India office in Dalhousie where he saw men sweeping the streets in with long brooms to earn their living.
This incident stroked a thought that this is the only thing that doesn’t require any qualification. Later, “I cleaned offices too in the same year so that I can bear my expenses and fulfill my basic necessities,” he said.
On asking why a person in India cannot live a normal life after coming out of prison, Akkara said, “unemployment, illiteracy and political dramas are the primary factors behind this but what is good in West Bengal is that a prison is a correctional home for prisoners laced with education, proper food, and exams -therefore things changed for good in my case.”
There are 155 technical and vocational courses in the West Bengal prisons. Also in Berhampore, the prisons offer courses in mechanical engineering and prisoners are given certificate once they complete the course.
“There are dance and music therapies too correctional homes that can heal a person because at times it becomes lonely in there. Theatre too is taught to people who have interest in it,” says Akkara.
Akkara found peace in spirituality and counseling other people later. He says, “ Spirituality has healed me a lot, and that personal connection to God is something I find peace in. I have conducted several music therapies for depressed people in several organizations like Psychogenesis Research Foundation, TCS and also in Jadavpur University.”
“When I started Kolkata facilities management, I realized that these people have hidden potential in them and therefore the area of work needed to be decided accordingly,” smiles Akkara.
To get a glimpse of the lives of these ex- prisoners and how they are dealing with the life after prison in an efficient manner, NewsGram had a chat with the employees of the organization (Kolkata Facilities Management), and it was interesting to look at how efficiently they are breaking the social stigmas that are attached to ex-prisoners-
The executive director of Kolkata Facilities Management, Arijit Paul (33) says, “I am with the organization for 2-3 years. I came out of prison in 2014 but I knew Nigel Akkara for last 15 years, he always had faith in me and had guided me throughout. It is sad that people are not ready to accept change but slowly times are changing.”
An employee of the organization, Md Ramzan (26), who is a resident of Satragachi was charged with a murder in 2007 but after serving a sentence, living a normal life and being accepted by people were the two things, Ramzan was looking for. He now works as a security guard.
41-year-old Prasenjit Dutta used to work as a stuntman and as a body double in the movies, but now he has become a stunt director. He says the journey from 2000 to 2014 was tough enough to deal with. I tried to invest in a film too, but there were obstacles. Life was never easy for me. It is hard to come out of a situation when police, politicians form a team against you and people close to you get involved.” He went to prison for two months in Alipore Central Jail but used to keep himself engaged in the pujas performed in the jail premises. “I also worked as a Group D staff with Putihari Brojomohon Tiwari High School. Later on, I started working with Nigel from the sets of Yodha, and now I am like a family to him,” smiles Dutta.
Another employee of the organization, Tarun Patra (30), who is a resident of Sonarpur says, “I was a shop owner, seven years back I lost 6 lakhs due to which there was too much loan, and I had to shut down the shop. There was a fight where a person got killed, and therefore I was arrested on the charge of murder.” 7 long years he was behind bars but, Patra never lost hope. He was also a tailor by profession, but because of the eyesight issues, he had to give up tailoring and soon after his parents also passed away. He now works as a security guard in an apartment in Kolkata.
What is important here is to take into account that a prisoner’s dilemma is beyond any doubt, a situation where self-interests and collective interests are at odds. This is high time for people in India to understand the crisis, be compassionate and sensitize themselves enough to accept ex-prisoners as a part of the society!
What Is Bullying?
Bullying is a pattern of recurrent aggressive behavior in which one person (or a group of individuals) in a position of authority intentionally intimidate or abuse another individual to cause bodily or emotional harm to that other. Bullying may take place in either a physical or verbal manner. Bullied individuals, as well as those who bully others, may have long-term repercussions.
Bullying may occur anywhere, at any time, in person or online (cyberbullying), and can take many forms, including verbal, physical, and social. Bullies utilize their position of power — such as physical strength, knowledge of something embarrassing, or popularity — to exert control over or damage other people. Many people assume that bullying occurs solely during childhood; nevertheless, bullying does not necessarily stop after a person reaches the age of adulthood.
Bullies in adulthood can take the form of a threatening boss or colleague, a controlling partner, a relative, or any other type of person. Even in our personal and professional lives, we sometimes encounter adult bullies who can be harmful to our mental well-being.
Bullied individuals, as well as those who bully others, may have long-term repercussions. | Photo by Unsplash
How To Deal With An Adult Bully?
For obvious reasons, adult bullying can be a painful and challenging experience for anybody who finds themselves on the receiving end of such behavior. Knowing how to deal with the antics of a bully properly, on the other hand, may help you learn, develop, and feel better levels of confidence. When you find yourself in this scenario, one of the most crucial things to remember is that you must not exhibit the bully any signs of fear. This might be difficult, depending on the sort of bully you are dealing with, but bullies enjoy fear, encouraging them to continue with their terrible conduct.
Maintaining a sense of connection with other people while dealing with bullying is quite essential. Bullies usually see alone persons as easier targets since they have a smaller support network to challenge them.
Courage and a support network are significant advantages; but, reporting the bully is also an excellent line of action. Contrary to common opinion, just ignoring a bully does not always prompt them to cease their behavior. Adult bullies of all kinds often interpret being ignored as a sign of weakness, encouraging them to continue bullying. If someone is bullying you, don't be scared to speak out and report the individual.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Keywords: mental health, bullying, bully, bullied, courage, abuse, harass, support, cyberbully
Silver and gold have always been preferred when it comes to wearing jewellery. Right from the times of monarchy in India, wealth and riches have been associated with wearing gold and silver for the various properties they have. Copper is a metal that has always been worn by the poor. It is not a metal that carries a significant association with health or wealth, but wearing at least one article of copper is extremely beneficial for health.
Copper is a reddish-brown metal that cannot be worn on its own. It has to be worn in the form of an alloy to prevent a reaction. Copper oxidizes in air and forms a green layer on it when exposed, much like the Statue of Liberty. Usually, bangles, chains, or rings of copper always have brass and traces of silver in them which helps with stabilizing its reactivity.
Wearing copper with stones in it looks very aesthetic, but copper is not durable enough to hold the stones, which is why it is fashioned into elaborate designs and sold. Copper is very malleable, and over time, the bangle or ring will take the shape of the wearer's hand or finger.
A copper ring Image source: Wikimedia commons
Jewellery made out of copper can be an excellent health indicator. Copper helps metabolize bodily functions faster, and the wearer experiences relief from indigestion. It also soothes joint pain, headaches, and arthritis. Using copper utensils also aids those with deficiencies. Since copper is absorbed slowly into the body, there is no fear of causing any kind of imbalance.
Sometimes copper leaves a greenish tinge on the skin. This happens when it oxidizes with sweat. This stain can be washed away with soap and water, but the fact that it appears is noteworthy. It is an indicator of too much acidity in the body. Greenish skin appears when the wearer's diet includes too much meat or acidic foods.
Copper might not be a very attractive metal, but wearing it has a lot of benefits for the health. It regulates metabolism, assimilation, and indicates health. It is definitely a good idea to wear copper jewellery at least once in a while.
Keywords: Copper jewellery, Copper is a health indicator, Metabolism, Oxidation, Benefits of copper
By Md Waquar Haider
When popular smartphone brands like Xiaomi and realme entered the laptop market in India last year, they were expected to shake the existing giants, specifically under the Rs 50,000 category. However, chip shortage and supply crunch have somewhat dented their plans to make a significant mark to date. According to industry experts, the issue with smartphone makers entering the laptop category is two-fold. The first one is a massive supply crunch in the laptop component market and only big brands are able to get volume and supplies.
The other factor is that the traditional players are very strong in the consumer laptop market. Top 3 players control more than 70 per cent of the market and strong portfolio, distribution, and channel reach as well as brand marketing has helped them massively. "New brands can surely make a dent in the consumer laptop market but are challenged by supply issues right now. Watch out for them in 2022 as and when supply situation eases up," Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Client Devices & IPDS, IDC India told IANS.
Dominated by HP Inc, Lenovo and Dell, the traditional PC market (inclusive of desktops, notebooks, and workstations) in India continued to be robust as the shipments grew by 50.5 per cent year-over-year (YoY) in the second quarter (Q2), according to IDC. Notebook PCs continue to hold more than three-fourth share in the overall category and grew 49.9 per cent YoY in 2Q21, reporting a fourth consecutive quarter with over 2 million units. Desktops also indicated a recovery as shipments grew 52.3 per cent YoY after recording the lowest shipments of the decade in 2Q20.
According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group, CMR, driven by the pandemic and the associated accelerated pivot to remote work, learn and unwind culture, PCs have been witnessing heightened demand. "Despite the current supply chain constraints, PCs are here to stay in the new never normal. In the run-up to the festive season, established PC market leaders will continue to leverage their brand salience and gain market share," Ram told IANS.
According to industry experts, the issue with smartphone makers entering the laptop category is two-fold. | Photo by Manuel on Unsplash
"On the other hand, there is a niche market for those new market entrants that are able to differentiate themselves from the competition in terms of features and value. "Alongside, they would need to back it with strong brand messaging to create awareness and recall amongst the target consumers," Ram added.
HP maintained its lead in the India PC market with a 33.6 per cent share as its shipments grew 54.2 per cent annually. Dell Technologies continued to hold the second position with a 22.1 per cent share and an impressive 86.1 per cent YoY growth in 2Q21. Lenovo maintained the third position with a share of 17.8 per cent in 2Q21.
Arvind Suraj, Research Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said that there is always a trust issue with new brands. "You won't buy a laptop in 6 or 7 months just like smartphones. In this case, we often go for existing players. Brands like Lenovo, HP, ASUS and Acer have already gained our trust," he said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Chip, shortage, laptop, market, India, Xiaomi, hp, dell, brands