Jayanti Bandyopadhyay: Passion for Theater and People Struggling With Poverty and Unfortunate Situations

Jayanti Bandyopadhyay
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Jayanti Bandyopadhyay, a professor of accounting and the Graduate Program Coordinator at the Bertolon School of Business at Salem State University, Bandyopadhyay has passion for two: theater and people who are struggling with poverty and unfortunate situations, especially with women.

Her is passionate about acting, fiction writing, travelling, and connecting with people of multi-ethnic backgrounds.  She is the co-founder and actress for SETU, a non-profit group founded in 2002 that produces plays only in English.  She has produced a self-authored film in Kolkata, India, in 2000.

Bandyopadhyay’s real passion lies in trying to make a difference in people’s lives who are struggling with poverty and unfortunate situations, especially with women.  In 2003, she performed in Kamala at Harvard University for SETU and a sizable donation was made to Maiti Nepal to help those women who had been abused badly from the prevalent slave trade.  This event sparked an inner urge in Bandyopadhyay to help make a difference, no matter how small, in empowering women who live in extreme poverty.  She chose to do her research work in villages in West Bengal, India, her place of origin, during her sabbatical from Salem State in fall 2015.

Her main interest is in measuring impact from and accountability of NGO activities to improve education at the generational level, health, hygiene and sanitation.  Bandyopadhyay now devotes her visits in India to such activities.  Her chosen acting roles for SETU reflect empowerment and evolution of women at various periods of Indian history.

Bandyopadhyay is an ardent follower of the Vedanta philosophy inspired by Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda.

Jayanti Bandyopadhyay

INDIA New England News:  Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?  

Jayanti Bandyopadhyay: I am an educator, a college professor.  I love teaching because I feel that is where I can make a difference in someone’s life, in educating.  Imparting knowledge and experience I have gained with others not only enrich them but more importantly, I continue to be enlightened and enriched through learning from my students.  My teaching profession is enhanced through my acting on stage as in delivery, movements, and knowing my audience.

INE:  To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?  

JB: I am the co-founder (with Subrata Das) and Treasurer of SETU, Stage Ensemble Theater Unit, Inc., a 501 ( c) (3) corporation.  SETU means “bridge” in several Indian languages.  SETU’s mission is to build bridges between Indian and Western cultures through the medium of theater in English.  The organization was founded in 2002 and has produced Indian epics such as Mahabharata, Ramayana, Karna-Kunti Sangbad, historical pieces such as Shah Jahan, modern period dramas with social-political messages in the Indian context such as Kamala, Hayavadana, Once Upon a Time Not in Bollywood, among others.

I believe that during the past fifteen years SETU has successfully been able to meet her mission in educating non-Indian origin peoples and the next generation Indians about the Indian heritage.  Moreover, using SETU’s platform as a foundation, numerous first-time performers have found the opportunity to express themselves and in several cases moved on to beauty pageants, and mainstream theater or films, while some have gained the confidence and courage to form his or her own theater or musical group.

For the past three years, I have been an active  donor and researcher for two NGOs, Nishtha and Sabuj Sangha near Kolkata, India, who are involved in empowering village women through education and self-help groups.

I am a life-long supporter of The Ramkrishna Math and Mission for their spiritual and charitable activities.  I am also associated with the Vedanta Society of Boston.

Whether it is teaching, acting, or any other charitable activities, my passion is to dedicate myself to empower women through education.  I believe in Swami Vivekananada’s quote, “Education is the manifestation of the divinity in man.”

INE:  What are you hobbies and interest?  

JB: Acting, making jewelry, fashion with hand loom and ethnic products, watching movies with a message, reading, and listening to music.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field.  

JB: With my passion in teaching and acting coupled with my strong involvement with Indian NGOs working with the extreme poor in villages, I believe I have positively influenced numerous young minds and NGO activities.  The impact is particularly strong with hundreds of young men and women on Salem State campus and thousands of village women, both young and old, in terms of their ability to believe in and support themselves.

INE: Your rare talent?  

JB: I do not give up easily once the goal is set in my mind.  I try my best to be able to keep faith and believe in others in the most challenging situations.

INE: Your favorite books? 

JB: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Short Stories by Rabindranath Tagore, Profiles of Courage, The Namesake, The Mahabharata, The Man Who Knew Infinity

INE: Your favorite quotes?  

JB: Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached; sleep no more, within each of you there is the power to remove all wants and all miseries – by Swami Vivekananda

If you want happiness, do not find fault in others – by Sri Sri Ma Sarada

INE: Who inspires you the most?  

JB: Swami Vivekananda and my parents Dr. Chiranjib and Mrs. Bijaya Sarkar because they taught me all the core values I live by.  I am also inspired by my husband, my son, his wife, and my siblings because of their positive outlook in life despite facing major challenges in life.

INE: The one you would like to meet and why?  

JB: Michelle Obama – she is the personification of wanting to do good for just doing good without having any other agenda and she is content with staying in the background and making a difference and above all, she believes in education.

INE: Your core value you try to live by?

JB: Believe, have faith, be positive, and do good for doing good without any other agenda.




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