Writers’ Rescue Center: College Dropout Writer Turns People Battling Depression Into Bestselling Authors

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During the initial years of his college, Jaipur-lad Rajyavardhan Singh was battling severe depression, desperately trying to find a way out. The thought of dropping out of college concreted in his mind day by day. Young Rajyavardhan felt more dispirited every day and turned suicidal, leaving his parents helpless. It felt like the end of the road for the family.

It was at this time Rajyavardhan came across Nikhil Chandwani, a successful writer-entrepreneur. Soon after opening up to him about his passion in poetry, Rajyavardhan shut Nikhil out by blocking him on social media. For Nikhil, who was seasoned with the quirks of budding writers, both young and old, Rajyavardhan’s step was not out of the blue. Rather, he empathised with the depressed teenager and was determined to ‘rescue’ him.

When they spoke again a few months later, Rajyavardhan was at his worst. Overwhelmed by his inner struggles, he had stopped attending his classes. He thought of himself as a failure. Nikhil, the founder of Writers’ Rescue Center, continued his conversation with the teenager, encouraging him to drain out his overpowering feelings through poetry. Fast forward a few months, Rajyavardhan was a published poet, the young talent behind the anthology – Map of A Lost Soul. Soon, he emerged to be a bestselling writer, a regular columnist with international dailies like Chicago Tribune or Los Angeles Times and a Public Speaker, all at the age of 20.

Writers' Rescue Center

Here lies the true success of Nikhil Chandwani. His Writers’ Rescue Center discovers, mentors, and heals depressed, deprived and helpless individuals, turning them into bestselling authors. Started in 2016, the Center has a total of 211 published authors of all ages, from 16 to 72.

From an engineering dropout to a saviour for many

Speaking to Efforts For Good, Nikhil shares his journey from being an engineering dropout to a saviour of dejected souls. “I used to scribble poetry and pen stories since my childhood. Yet, after school, I opted for electronics engineering considering my knack for science, only to realise soon that it was not my cup of tea. I was and always had been a writer at heart,” he shares.

Nikhil took a daring step then by dropping out of college and taking up writing as a full-time vocation. By 18, he published his debut fiction novel I Wrote Your Name in the Sky. “It was a crude attempt, but it taught me how to write,” Nikhil admits. In the years that followed, he went ahead to write 9 more books, almost all of which are bestsellers. He has also ventured into teaching and entrepreneurship, until his standout initiative, Writers’ Rescue Center, happened.

“15-year-old Siddharth was the first person I ever helped through writing. He expressed his flair for writing to me and I gave my best to guide him. Today, he is 18 and already has a list of books to his name. Siddharth is also a TEDx speaker,” Nikhil informs.

Writers' Rescue Center

Nikhil is a regular visitor and speaker at elite institutions of India, from where he meets most of his aspiring writers.

Writers’ Rescue Centre – where words sprout smiles

From top-selling poets to award-winning scriptwriters, Writers’ Rescue Centre is a treasure trove of storytellers. All of them were lost and confused at some point in their lives until Nikhil Chandwani emerged as a messiah to help them knit words from uncontainable emotions that bothered them.

For instance, 22-year-old Ritesh Verma was drowning in a sea of backlogs as he had failed in 12 subjects in the third year of his engineering. He took to drinking and self-harming. When he met Nikhil, he was devastated. Four years later, Verma won the award for best scriptwriting at the Los Angeles Film Festival for his short film ‘Fears.’

Writers' Rescue Center
Ritesh with Nikhil

The story of Nikhila Chalamalashetty is also worth sharing. Wheelchair-bound since childhood, Nikhila only saw pity or worse, apathy, in the eyes of people towards differently-abled individuals. Her own childhood had been amazing, thanks to the love and support of her family. Nikhil, who found her through Instagram, urged her to write a book; a book which will challenge the age-old mindset of the society towards the differently-abled. He regularly mentored and supported her at every step of the book. Nikhila’s book ‘The Day I Started Flying’ received rave responses from the media and the readers. “I owe all my success to Nikhil Chandwani. He has helped me immensely throughout my highs and lows as an author,” she reveals.

Writers' Rescue Center

Mentoring people of all ages

Interestingly, despite being only 24 himself, Nikhil has successfully mentored men and women who are twice, even thrice his age.

“He (Nikhil Chandwani) is one of the most modest, gentle, kind and bright persons I have ever met. Without him, my quest would never even have started,” shares Vishnu Chaudhuri, another successful ‘alumnus’ of Writers’ Rescue Center, who is yet to meet Nikhil in person. Through social media, Nikhil spearheaded the journey of Vishnu Chaudhuri, from a depressed young man to a published poet from Vadodara, Gujarat.

Writers' Rescue Center

Much like Nikhil himself, Yash Singhania from Maharastra was also a dropout who discontinued his Chartered Accountancy degree. Nikhil helped this former dyslexic man to cope up with his failures and learn to love himself again. Presently, he is a noted public speaker and author.

Writers' Rescue Center

The number of social entrepreneurs in India is gradually increasing as more and more young men and women are choosing to help others above everything else. Nikhil Chandwani, with his unique and noble initiative, happens to be a frontrunner among them. He is arguably one of the best definitions of a true mentor. The spirited youth changemaker aims to touch one million lives before he touches 30. He was even nominated for the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian honours in India.

Visit his website https://www.nikhilchandwani.com/ for more details on his amazing efforts.

Also Read: This Psychologist & Her All-Women Counsellors Team Are Preventing Farmer Suicides In Telangana

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MyStory: “Two Months After I Joined IIT For My PhD I Was Diagnosed With TB”

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A person suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) not only battles the ‘Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ bacteria inside his lungs but also from the stigma attached to the disease. It weakens the patients in many different ways in their fight against the dreaded disease.  

My fight with TB was also filled with stigma. I joined IIT Kharagpur for my PhD in January 2015. Two months later, in March 2015, I was diagnosed with TB. I had to take sick leave from March 2015 that eventually lasted till June 2016. Initially, I did not respond well to medication. Further tests revealed that I had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). This meant that the type of TB I had was resistant to two or more of the antitubercular medication I was taking.

About a year after the intensive phase of my treatment, I felt better and applied for readmission to IIT in July 2016. A prerequisite for rejoining was that my faculty members had to verify my application. With the formalities completed, I resumed my education, but I felt that something was amiss. 

My guide indicated that he did not want his work to suffer on account of my illness. I also heard from a senior colleague that my guide had said that I would spread the disease like an ‘infested animal’. I was disheartened at being subjected to this indignity by my supposed mentor.

However, my primary concern was defeating TB, so I didn’t dwell on it. Today, as I reflect on it, I realise the reasons behind the stigma were ignorance as well as fear.

Even among the educated, there are misconceptions about TB. People think all forms of TB are contagious. Others believe the patient is infectious for the entire length of the treatment. Some even believe that TB spreads through touch. This breeds the fear of contracting the illness.

As we know, people stigmatise and discriminate when they fear. I felt the impact of the stigma on two levels – in my professional life and my personal life.

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Professionally, the reluctance of my supervisor to mentor me and his discouragement affected me. I could not decide whether I should wait for the IIT authorities to tell me to leave or drop out. That decision was made for me by luck when I found out that my CSIR grant application was never processed. 

This meant that I would have to pay for my education. Given the expenditure on my treatment, this was unaffordable for me. This was the final nail in the coffin. I was forced to drop out and could not go back to completing my PhD.

What I faced was not technically illegal. I was discouraged from doing my PhD, but it was still a form of stigma. The external stigma I faced led to depression and isolation. 

Eventually, I realised I had to fight. The treatment for TB is difficult, requiring strict compliance and the management of side effects, and these demands resolve. I began motivating myself. I began following a proper diet and completing my treatment to ensure I could recover. I also turned to books as they transported me to other worlds and helped with my isolation. I also focused on reviving my old relationships.

Gradually, things improved. I could not proceed on my desired career path, but I am an educator now. I constantly realise that I have a role to play in shaping young minds. 

Workplace stigma has tangible consequences. It affects an individual’s career, financial opportunities and their right to work with dignity. So what can we do to address this stigma? 

First, we need to sensitise people by educating them about TB, and the impact stigma has on patients.

Another measure is group counselling involving the patient, the employer and the immediate supervisor. Informal versions of these sessions happen in the workplace in the context of illnesses like cancer. Why should it be any different for TB? 

The goal of this session would be to ensure that the patient is in a supportive environment. 

Finally, at a systemic level, there needs to be a workplace policy on stigma mitigation and a mechanism where the patients can anonymously register their concerns about stigma at the workplace.

A person’s career or job is often their calling and a provider of financial security. Workplace stigma creates a hostile work environment, affecting a person’s ability to do their job and their financial security. Financial insecurity and stigma make it harder for the patient to fight TB both in terms of means and motivation. Therefore, addressing stigma in the workplace is critical to patient well-being and recovery but also to their right to work with dignity.

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It's not how much we give
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