Book tells stories of josh, grit

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‘All You Need Is Josh: Stories of Courage and Conviction in 21st-century India’ is a collection of 30 awe-inspiring real life stories of people bracing odds and obstacles and achieving their dreams. Among the stories is one of an aspiring astrophysicist who wanted to walk on the moon and more…

PTI

Supriya Paul, who made it to the Forbes list of self-made women in 2020, curates stories of some unique individuals in her new book with an aim to reach those who are searching for hope and comfort during these trying times.

‘All You Need Is Josh: Stories of Courage and Conviction in 21st-century India’ is a collection of 30 awe-inspiring real life stories of people bracing odds and obstacles and achieving their dreams.

The stories in the book, edited by Paul and published by Bloomsbury, include that of an aspiring astrophysicist who wanted to walk on the moon; the first person with a disability to top the civil services examinations; a domestic help who is now a published author; an Army officer who amputated his own leg; a transgender woman who was expelled from her house; a Dalit child bride who now runs a business worth Rs 1,000 crore, and many more.

Filled with anecdotes and life-changing missives, these stories seek to remind readers that it does not matter the circumstances into which one is born – what matters most is having the josh to overcome all odds and chase dreams.

The book, Paul says, is an opportunity for her to share the backbone of Josh Talks, a platform she co-founded with Shobhit Banga.

“Shobhit and I firmly believe that stories have the power to create phenomenal social change and we keep exploring new mediums and formats to share our stories with newer audiences whether it’s in the form of a podcast or short films. Our viewers had in fact suggested the idea of a josh book and that’s how ‘All You Need Is Josh’ was born,” Paul told PTI.

“Out of the 4,000 odd stories that we have recorded so far, we decided to curate some of the most viewed and impactful stories in the form of a book so that they can reach every household in India. I really hope that through this book, we can reach those who are searching for hope and comfort during these trying times,” she says.

Paul has been receiving messages from readers in the last few weeks that in these tumultuous times, the book has offered them a ray of hope.

“Each individual whose story has been featured in the book has gone through extraordinary hardships and struggles but their resilience and determination helped them find their way. ‘All You Need Is Josh’ reminds you of just what the title suggests – that it does not matter the circumstances into which one is born – what matters most is having the josh to chase your dreams,” she says.

Josh Talks was started in 2015 with a mission to unlock human potential.

According to Paul, in the pandemic times, there is a need to focus more on stories of grit and inspiration.

“At a time when people are overwhelmed from listening to the news and more uncertain about the future than ever before, I hope stories in the book can be their light at the end of the tunnel. Usually, it’s when we start to lose hope that we begin to struggle mentally, these stories will give the readers the strength to carry on. I really hope that the stories offer hope and resilience to the readers as we face the crisis together,” she says.

She is also of the view that mainstream media often does not give space to such stories and even the manner in which such stories are told is different.

“We observed a growing appetite in Bharat for more diverse content, especially in vernacular languages and the internet made it possible for us to fill this gap that is present in mainstream media,” she says.

“We make an effort to identify speakers that our audience can relate to – we have an in-house research team which extensively researches and chooses individuals with extraordinary life journeys. More importantly, we don’t just focus on their success but also their failures – which makes them more human and easier for the audience to empathise with the speakers and emulate their achievements,” she adds.

According to Paul, in the last few years, “we have seen our stories change millions of lives – from inspiring a young man in Madhya Pradesh to quit his job and contribute to his community by contesting elections in his village to giving a woman in Bihar the strength to walk out of an abusive marriage; from equipping a young man in Punjab with the skills to find his first job to giving a tuberculosis survivor in Mumbai the josh
to live”.