Kaanchan S Farkiya, an Indian TV actress, model and beauty queen who shifted to USA from India in 2005, brought honor to the Indian American community by winning the most coveted crown of Ms. Asian North America in 2016. A cultural and music-loving person, Kaanchan feels more responsible towards her community and committed towards society rather being lost in the glare of showbiz in India or USA. With an unshakable belief in Indian cultural values, she engages herself with community activities and services like food distribution at shelters for the homeless in and out of San Diego. She is also associated with California Community Colleges. In 2016, she bagged six subtitles including Mrs. Role Model of the Year 2016 and Mrs. People Choice 2016. Kaanchan has pledged to donate her eyes to an eye bank.
We at Travel Beats, a fast-growing Indian American community portal by IndianEagle, catch up with San Diego based beauty queen and social activist Kaanchan S Farkiya to share with you her views of women empowerment, socio-cultural difference, child trafficking in India, objectification of women in showbiz industry, her life in USA, etc. in the following interview.
IE: Winning an international beauty pageant is sort of empowerment for women. Do you feel empowered with the title “Ms. Asian North America” bestowed on you?
Absolutely, I am completely honored to earn the title “Ms. Asian North America” Queen. It’s a life changing experience. Every day when I wake up in the morning, it reminds me of my responsibilities and duties.
I have been getting tremendous love and support from people of different countries on my fan page. That makes me feel empowered with the title, and for the fact that I am on my way to make a difference in someone’s life, and it gives me a sense of fulfillment.
IE: How do you leverage your newly earned state of empowerment? I mean for what greater purposes….
We are all born with a purpose, and most of us have our own life goals. My newly earned state of empowerment is not only helping me understand my perspective in life but also find out what those true significance and purpose are. I believe that whatever your goal is in your life, you have to be inspirational at the end of the day and I am trying to propel myself to a higher principle of life.
IE: It has been 10 years since you shifted to USA in 2005. How close are you to your roots? What makes you miss and connect with the things that you were fond of while in India?
Every culture has their own sets of values and I am proud to be close to my roots. According to the Vedas, most of ancient Indian traditions and rituals are based on science. It not only helps improve the lives of individuals but also forms a solid foundation & structure of our society. Also, I make sure that I represent my country as a good role model wherever I go.
I miss my precious moments of childhood. Watching my child growing every day brings back memories of my own childhood days and I am in regular touch with my parents back in India to relive those moments.
IE: Did you experience ‘culture shock’ due to socio-cultural differences between India and USA on initial days after you settled in San Diego?
Culture in US is very different from Indian culture. Every culture has some positive and interesting aspects, and I was mentally prepared to embrace this change. I tend to adopt positive values and learn from adverse situations. I believe in improving and growing as a better person with the help of my experiences.
IE: How do you connect with the local Indian community in San Diego?
I think, networking is the best way to connect with any community. There are many local Indian communities in San Diego where I go to make a special appearance. I often represent Indian culture by doing fashion shows sponsored by different outfits and jewelry designers.
IE: You won a state level beauty pageant in India and became Ms. Asian North America in the United States. How different is the public outlook to this kind of achievement in USA from that in India?
I won the state level beauty pageant when I was a teen and right after that I started getting offers for TV serials and TV commercials. In India, I was more recognized as a TV artist. Now after becoming Ms. Asian North America, a much honorable title, I didn’t see much difference in public outlook. Only changes are that now I have fan followers on my Instagram and on my Facebook fan page as Kaanchan S Farkiya.
I am very thankful that I have been getting plenty of love and appreciation from my friends and fans in US as what I got from my family and friends in India.
IE: You worked in TV serials and commercial ads in India. In USA, you worked for child development as Vice President of Associated Student Council. How difficult was this career shift? Did you face any challenges during the transition?
Yes, of course it was a great change in my career. Indian TV Industry has quite different culture and I always loved everything about it. However, I never discussed to anybody about my previous career when I came to United States. Once, my son was born here and I couldn’t think of anything other than raising my son.
The position of Vice President gave me another chance to develop my intellect and I was recognized as a student leader which gave me strength to become voice for students and give back to our community. I loved both of my positons. I definitely got more work in terms of my duties as a queen now. Both careers made me understand about different societies and individuals. It was challenging however, my “learn every day from everything” attitude made my challenges easy.
IE: You were born and brought up in India. You are bringing up your only son thousands of miles away from India. How do you impart Indian cultural values to him?
I was born into a family of nurturing and supportive parents who raised me for such values as integrity, responsibilities and gratitude. That’s why for me culture is most important for upbringing of children. It connects with your family when even you are away.
I always make sure that my son understands our primary language (Hindi). My son attends cultural and language classes weekly. My family and I spend quality time together and discuss cultural stories. I make sure that he understands importance of our rich ancient culture and heritage.
IE: These days, women are objectified in different walks of life, according to feminists. What do you think?
Objectification depends on individual’s beliefs and thinking. First, we should honor womanhood and should appreciate women’s mighty role, as the progenitor of life, as the wellspring of all virtues.
Second, every person has their own personality and dignity and they should be treated with all regards and respect whether they are men or women. As per my belief, both men and women are equal and they should get equal opportunities and it’s a fundamental human right. It is also a required foundation for a harmonious, flourishing and sustainable world.
IE: India is still grappling with child trafficking and child abuse. How would you like to help India in its efforts to eradicate child trafficking and abuse?
Many organizations are working exclusively on the issue of trafficking in persons everywhere in the world. However, I would like to work proactively with NGO’s and connect with them to strengthen community-based child protection systems to prevent child trafficking and child abuse in India. I would like to create task forces, raise awareness in communities, and provide access to education.
It’s important to get support from trained government officials and local authorities. We need to increase the level of alertness among people and start more anti-human trafficking activities. Counseling to young vulnerable children, immigrants, and needy people can make them aware of the risks.
There should be combined efforts of community leaders, organizations and law enforcement agencies. Still, we need support from government leaders who can prevent child trafficking and abuse in the country by strengthening laws, policies and services. Improvement of organized action on trafficking worldwide and a staunch global data can help international organizations and governments to fight against trafficking completely.
IE: Any message would you like to give for today’s career women and ambitious girls?
My message to all women and girls is, “Believe in what you are and what you can be.” You only need to recognize your strength, learn from your mistakes, work on it and reach your goals.
Travel Beats is a digital publication by IndianEagle, a leading travel organization for Indians in USA. Travel Beats represents the Indian American community and publishes their news as well as stories. It also celebrates the achievements of young Indians and publishes features on philanthropists as well as social activists from Indian Diaspora.