Muskan Sethi from Delhi, who is not only a professional poker player but also a social worker, is breaking more than just one stereotype.27-year-old Muskan is helping change the way the game is looked at in India, the way the world looks at India and women players and has been using her prize money for various social causes.A Modern Barakhamba pass out, Muskan grew up watching poker on TV, thanks to her dad. “As a kid, instead of watching cartoon, I had to watch poker and I hated it,” a smiling Muskan, who wanted to become a tennis player, told IndiaToday.in in an exclusive chat.”When I turned 20, I started playing it on Facebook for fun. It was then that I realised that I was good at it and started enjoying it,” said the excited Muskan who cleaned the whole table out the first time she played with her friends who knew the game. “Everytime I sat to play, I would clean the table out. So I decided to take it up seriously and started entering tournaments online.” It was then that she came across a tournament by PokerStars that said ‘Do you have it in you to be among the Top 20 poker players in the world?’ The enthusiastic Delhi girl thereon found herself challenging professional International players, giving auditions, phone interviews and becoming the top fourth online player among 700 thousand players to win an all expense paid ticket to Barcelona for the championship in 2014.The girl who idolises Phil Ivey not only played against some of the best poker players in the world but also gave them a tough time. “There was a rule in the challenge that if you can bluff them, you can cage them. It was like living a dream. They introduced me as the Indian girl fighting for one million dollars.”advertisement ‘NO PROFESSION WHERE WOMEN CAN’T DOMINATE’Coming from a typical Punjabi family where not many women work, Muskan holds liberal views. “I feel no one should be dependent. There is no profession where women can’t dominate,” she said.When asked if she ever faced discrimination on the basis of her sex, considering the game has been majorly male-dominated so far, she responded, “I did get it initially. Usually the poker community treats me like a guy because the poker face is a man’s face, an anoymous face. But when they find out that I am a girl, they tell me ‘Go back to the kitchen.'”In a society where women are still, during Diwali and other social gatherings, told to go play cards separately or not play at all, Muskan has set a strong example. “Times have been changing. I am still experiencing the change. Earlier they would not be too keen to have me play with them. But now they know how good I am at the game and enjoy playing with me.”‘I DIDN’T CHOOSE POKER, IT CHOSE ME'”Poker can be compared to stock market and chess. It is a dreamer’s sport. I could have chosen anything but Poker chose me,” said Muskan, who added that no one taught her to play poker and that the game is a balance of luck as well as skill. Muskan Sethi with Liv Boeree, no. 1 ranked female poker player in 2015″People are very welcoming abroad, unlike India. But having said that, the game is fast growing in the country as more number of sites have been coming up on a daily basis to promote it,” said Muskan, who has been playing professional poker for the last 5 years and has taken part in World series of Poker, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour as the first Indian female professional player.The game has taken her to Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Nottingham, Barcelona, Prague among other cities in the world so far.PROMOTING SOCIAL CAUSESMuskan, started playing poker online to take her mind off her mother’s untimely death. She also donates money she wins at various competitions to Muskan NGO, started by her mother after her name.Dog-lover Muskan has also started an Iphone app ‘Doggydoo’ that helps dog-owners come together to address various pet related issues. She also supports other small NGOs from time-to-time.
Story Highlights Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says the revised National Youth Policy, when completed, will sharpen its focus on entrepreneurship, skills training and preparing young people for the world of work in the global village.“We have put in place all the work for revision…the Concept Paper has been written to (produce) the new policy, which will not only see things to take into consideration – how the globe has changed, how Jamaica has changed, and how our young people have changed – but will have with it certain instruments to make sure that it’s implemented,” the Minister said.Ms. Hanna was addressing a youth seminar, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on November 20.The Minister explained that the concept will now form a Green Paper, which will go back for consultations and out of that will emerge a White Paper, which will be tabled in Parliament.She pointed out that the policy will take into account emerging issues that affect young people, and will present commitment and response of the Government to address these issues over time.The Ministry of Youth and Culture has been tasked with the responsibility of developing a comprehensive data base of the country’s youth population, a review of the 2004 National Youth Policy and the promotion of a symbiotic youth-development partnership with the private sector.These activities will lay the foundation for greater participation of young people in the formulation of appropriate policies, and ensure that limited resources are targeted to the preparation of young people for the increasingly competitive world of work.Miss Hanna underscored that the future of the country resides in the creativity and imagination of young people, “so in order to pull that out of you, we have to get rid of the mindset of ‘a jus so di ting set’.”“If we have a revolution of the mindset of young people resetting their agendas, resetting their approaches, resetting their conversations as to how this country should work, and what their expectations are, then we will go in a particular direction,” she said.Meanwhile, Project Manager, Inter-American Development Bank/Government of Jamaica Youth Development Programme, Margery Newland, said one of the most significant outcomes of the revised policy will be its Monitoring and Evaluation System, which will allow for the tracking of achievements and the status of activities included in the policy.“We have to assess, on a continuing basis, the quality of the relationships that we have established and the progress in the implementation of the policy; and to evaluate the activities and actions that we have taken in the implementation of the policy, so that we are in a position to assess the impact that it has had on our target population,” she said.Scores of young people from across the island turned out to participate in robust discussion sessions regarding topics such as: education, health, anti-crime/restorative justice, entrepreneurship/employment, capacity building of youth sector and youth participation, and equity/special circumstances.Revision of the policy is being informed by the findings of the 2010 Jamaica National Youth Survey, which was commissioned by the Government under the Youth Development Programme loan agreement signed with the IDB.Conducted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), the survey provides a holistic profile of young people age 15 to 24 years, and seeks to aid in the strengthening of existing programmes designed for youth development throughout the island.It focuses on, among other things, unattached youth; young people living and working on the street as well as those in State care; young people with disabilities; entrepreneurial and employment opportunities; and spirituality and values.The seminar was held under the theme: ‘Reset di Ting! The Courage to do Things Differently’, and forms part of the activities to celebrate Youth Month 2013. The Minister explained that the concept will now form a Green Paper. The revised National Youth Policy, when completed, will sharpen its focus on entrepreneurship, skills training and preparing young people for the world of work. The Ministry of Youth and Culture has been tasked with the responsibility of developing a comprehensive data base of the country’s youth population.