ANHAD to clebrate a decade of community activism

By TCN News,

New Delhi: Act now for harmony and democracy, famous by its acronym ANHAD, is going to celebrate a decade of “safeguarding democracy, celebrating diversity and community work.”

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ANHAD was formed in the first week of March 2003, conceived less as an organization and more as platform and a very loose movement, which is absolutely action oriented.

ANHAD has since tried to combine the elements of a structural organisation as well as that of a large scale movement by collaborating with existing organisations and movements and by undertaking local level activities. It enables ANHAD to develop creative co-operation with people’s organisations and social movements working in different areas of social and cultural concerns.

Shabnam Hashmi and Prof Apoorvanand with the victims’ families from Dhule at the Press Club, New Delhi. [TCN file photo]

ANHAD actively works on issues related to democracy, secularism, communal harmony, gender equality, women empowerment and justice. It fights for human rights and rights of the marginalised communities.

ANHAD is involved in relief, rehabilitation, livelihood, women empowerment, vocational training, literacy and education. It celebrates cultural diversity and pluralism and intervenes at the policy level and is a strong advocacy group at the national level.

Formed in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riot in March 2003, ANHAD has seven eminent personalities as trustees:

K N Panikkar, historian and social commentator, Founding Trustee
Shubha Mudgal, musician, Trustee
Kamla Bhasin, activist and writer, Trustee
Saeed Akhtar Mirza, film maker and writer, Trustee
Harsh Mander, activist and writer, Founding Trustee
Ram Puniyani, writer, social activist, Trustee
Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, Founding and Managing Trustee

ANHAD has working offices in Delhi, Gujarat (Ahmadabad), Haryana (Hathin), Kashmir (Srinagar, Uri & Tangdar) and Bihar (Purnia).

ANHAD is a unique experience in activism and it is perhaps the only organisation of its kind with such a huge and diverse canvas of work.

ANHAD is known nationally for its work on human rights and minority rights. Everyone who works in ANHAD comes from very ordinary backgrounds with no formal qualifications like MSW or any other. Many are school and college drop outs, who did not have the opportunity to finish studies; there are women activists who coming out of their own difficult circumstances have become part of the organisation.

Areas of Work
1. Experiments in Secular Democratic Education

ANHAD organizes residential training camps to create awareness on issues related to democracy, secularism, communal harmony, pluralism and diversity, to counter prejudices, to plan actions and strategies for building an atmosphere of peace and justice.

In the past 10 years it has organised over 100 camps and discussion sessions and film screenings in colleges, schools and at its offices which has yielded quite encouraging results. These camps have been organized in Delhi, Gujarat, Goa, UP, Rajasthan, Kerala, Andhra, Orissa, Goa, Maharashtra, MP, Karnataka and other states.

2. Publications for Disseminating the Values of Democracy, Secularism, Equality and Justice

ANHAD realizes that giving intensive inputs to the activists does conscientise them but is not sufficient to equip them permanently. The arguments and the data that effectively opposes the prejudices has to be put in black and white. Anhad started producing material in easy and understandable language to inculcate the values of democracy, justice, pluralism and secularism. Anhad’s material- books, posters, Video CDs, exhibitions, leaflets, audio CDs, tribunal and fact finding reports have been very extensively used by various groups, colleges, institutions across India as well as in the Diaspora. Anhad has produced and disseminated thousands of books, video CDs, major exhibitions, close to one lakh posters and at least 50 lakh leaflets over the past 10 years and close to 100 small and big documentaries.

Anhad started an independent media production unit, which is now a separate organisation. Anhad uses social media including facebook and youtube for dissemination of ideas.

3. Organizing Seminars, Workshops, Conventions to Generate Intellectual Debate at the National and State Level

In order to stimulate intellectual debate as well as to respond to the political conditions in the country Anhad regularly organises seminars, workshops and conventions. Intellectuals, activists, members of the civil society, young students and youth from all over the country are invited to these programmes. About 60 seminars, conventions have been organised by Anhad over the last 10 years across the country. ANHAD has fearlessly spoken out in times of hopelessness and fear. It has given voice to the unheard at crucial times.

4. Celebrating Cultural Diversity

Anhad actively celebrates the secular, multi-layered cultural traditions of India, emphasizing that all creative endeavor upholds the values of secularism and pluralism. Anhad also provides platform to folk artists where they lack opportunities to conserve their art practices. Anhad actively engages with performing and visual artists to produce new repertoire around themes of peace and harmony.
Anhad has organised over 60 major cultural events across the country in the last 10 years.

5. People’s Action for Public Policy and Law & a Pressure Group Safeguarding the Rights of Minorities and other Marginalized Sections & Freedom of Expression

Apart from its direct work on secular education, cultural action for pluralism, secularism and democracy, and youth activism, Anhad sees a major role for itself in building continuous civil society pressure for public policy and law for secular democracy and social justice. ANHAD works as a strong pressure group and is constantly intervening in policy making, organizing media campaigns, releasing statements, sending fact finding teams and organizing tribunals, sending memorandums, organizing protests, demonstrations, dharnas and so on. Anhad directly assists a large number of people in taking up their cases of discrimination at the political level and administrative level. Anhad activists continuously assist various national, international human rights teams, activists, journalists and researchers with their studies in Gujarat and other parts of India.

6. Relief and Rehabilitation Work

Anhad came into being in response to the Gujarat carnage and when the idea of Anhad was still generating different members of Anhad worked extensively in Relief camps in Gujarat providing relief to victims. Anhad has responded to the best of its abilities to provide relief and help in rehabilitating victims of both natural and manmade disasters. Anhad helped raised funds for victims of Tsunami and has directly provided livelihood support to 700 quake affected families in Kashmir, 500 flood hit families in bihar, livelihood support to 100 flood hit marginalized families and relief material to 1600 displaced families from the riverfront in Gujarat.

7. People’s Campaigns for Safeguarding Democracy

Anhad has actively worked since its inception to defeat communal forces in the country. We have organised huge campaigns and have reached out to lakhs of people through these campaigns in many states and across India. Hundreds of young people have given their free time almost round the clock to work, travel, perform, distribute leaflets, speak and interact with ordinary people across India in small villages, towns and cities. These campaigns have not only reached out to a huge number of people and made an impact but they have also produced wonderful activists by the sheer exposure to the ground realities. About 15 major state and national level campaigns have been organized by Anhad. In 2010 Campaign Reservation Express in support of 33% women reservation was organised. It covered 30,000kms and 60 cities touching lakhs of people across India. In 2012 a unique Rediscovering Gandhi campaign was organised where 60 young people started from Porbandar with Gandhi’s 10 new posters and took them to every district of Gujarat spreading the message of non-violence and peace.

8. Community Work

Anhad has done a huge amount of community work during the past ten years. It includes Literacy, Computer Education, Vocational Training, and Supporting Education of children from families of victims of conflict, Sports and cultural activities at village level, village development through building pressure groups at the village level, running youth clubs, women empowerment centers and resource centers at the village, Tehsil level. Anhad has also organized many health camps in places where there are no health facilities available. Awareness camps on various issues such as health and hygiene, literacy etc are organized on regular basis with the community. All youth clubs run after school coaching for village children. Daily newspapers, employment news, indoor and outdoor sports material is available at the youth clubs and women empowerment centers. Anhad has made over 10,000 women literate, gave vocational skills to over 3000 women, enabling them to earn a livelihood, took computer literacy to the remote corners of Kashmir. Today Anhad has a presence in approximately 30 villages. From getting the road made to forcing administration to build schools and providing water and electricity, to taking the areas problems up to the planning commission, everything is done by handful of the activists on the ground.

Shabnam Hashmi talking to media during the dharna [File photo TCN]


APRIL 17, 18, 2013
ANHAD is organising a two day National Convention ‘Descent into Fascism: How Do We Stop It?’ at the Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi on April 17 & 18, 2013.

The convention will have representatives from a large number of states to present an over view of the situation from their states, experts who have worked on the questions of how terror has been used as a tool to demonise the minorities, communalisation of public and private spaces, culture, educational institutions and media & different segments of the society, it will look at recent cases of communal violence and the way forward.

A special panel of academicians, jurists, activists will at the end come out with recommendations for the government and the civil society.

Convention Schedule
APRIL 17, 2013
8.00-9.00am Breakfast for outstation participants and Registration
9.00-9.30am- Welcome
9.30-11.15- Session 1: Voices from the Ground: An Overview of the Situation from different states:
Chair: Gagan Sethi
Speakers : Deepak Bhatt- MP, Dr Anil Panikkar-Haryana, Faisal Anurag- Jharkhand, Kedar Misra-Orissa, Ramzan Chodhury-Haryana, Prof Haragopal- Andhra Pradesh, Dr. A Suneetha, Andhra Pradesh
11.15-1.00pm: Session 2: Voices from the Ground: An Overview of the Situation from different states:
Chair: Aruna Roy
Speakers: Anwar Ali- Kerala, Mohd Arif _UP, Neeraj Jain-Maharashtra, Pritha Kejriwal- West Bengal, Rajendra Sail- Chattisgarh, Shujaat Bukhari-Kashmir , Eric Pinto – Goa
1pm-2pm: Lunch
2pm-3.45pm-Session 3: Voices from the Ground: An Overview of the Situation from different states:
Chair: Prof. Rooprekha Verma
Speakers : Zakia Soman-Gujarat, Uttam Parmar-Gujarat, Yusuf Sheikh-Gujarat, Zamser Ali-Assam, Kavita Srivastava-Rajasthan, Arshad Ajmal-Bihar
3.45-5.30pm: Session 4: Terror a Tool to Demonise Minorities and Sangh Terror Network
Chair: Dr. Ram Puniyani
Speakers: Manisha Sethi, Shahnawaz Alam, Subhash Gatade, Rajeev Yadav, Ajit Sahi
5.30pm -TEA

April 18, 2013
8.00-900am: Breakfast
9.00- 11.15: Session 5: Communalisation of Public and Private Spaces, Cultural, Educational institutions and Media, Globalisation and Communalism
Chair: Colin Gonsalves
Speakers: Amit Sengupta, Anil Choudhry, Dr. Anupam Gupta, Avinash Kumar, Dr Harvardhan Hegde, Prof Atul Sood, Sukumar Muralidharan
11.15-1.00pm: Session 6: Political Response to Growing Communalism
Chair: Mahesh Bhatt
Speakers: D Raja-CPI, Digvijay Singh-Congress, DP Tripathi-NCP, Kavita Krishnan-CPI(ML), Ramvilas Pawan-LJP, Sitaram Yechury-CPM
2.00-4.30pm: Session 7: The Way Forward and Recommendations
Chair: Prof KN Panikkar
Speakers: Syeda Hamid, Vrinda Grover, Seema Mustafa, Dr. KM Shrimali, Harsh Mander, Dr John Dayal, Dr. Apoorvanand

April 17, 2013
Celebrating Diversity- An Evening of Poetry, Music and Dance

7.00- 10pm

Welcome: Safeguarding and Celebrating Cultural Diversity: Kamala Bhasin

ANHAD Cultural Group, Uri, J & K
They will be giving two performances of folk Kashmiri Dances Chakri and Ruf.

Shabnam Hashmi and Navaid Hamid talking to press in Delhi after returning from Assam on 9th August 2012 [TCN file photo]

Joint Performance by Avni Sethi & Dhruv Sangari

In the syncretic and secular imagination the experience of India has ever been that of a river. Both cyclical and linear, singular as well as plural. With streams separating and merging, sometimes blending with other rivers arriving from faraway, occasionally changing course creating a whole new journey in the process. Traveling in solitude yet belonging to all simultaneously.

Embodiments of that river like nature have always cast long shadows across the space and time of the social and cultural history of the subcontinent. Be it Kalidas, Khusrau or Farid, Bulleshah, Tukaram or Kabir, Meera, Tulsi or Raskhan, Ratanbai, Tyagaraja or Akkamahadevi , Iqbal, Premchand or Faiz… Through their interventions in music, art, scholarship and literature they have influenced the discourse and values of generations, widened and deepened the flow of the river and birthed altogether new rivulets.

To mark the 10 years of ANHAD and celebrating the vibrant diversity and streams of consciousness that flow all around us, Interdisciplinary artist Avni Sethi and Sufi musician Dhruv Sangari present ‘Dialogues across time’. A collaborative dance and music recital narrating the stories of poets and thinkers speaking to each other through the ages.

Anwar Ali, poet, essayist and film-script writer, is very active in today’s Malayalam literary scene.He has published a collection, Mazhakalam, and has won awards for his film scripts.He works as an auditor with the Kerala State Audit Department.

Gauhar Raza is a scientist by profession, and a leading Urdu poet, social activist and documentary film maker working to popularize the understanding of science among general public, known for his films like Jung-e-Azadi, on the India’s First War of Independence, and Inqilab (2008) on Bhagat Singh and Zulmaton Ke daur Main on Fascism.

A group of young girls will perform Haryanvi Folk Dance on questions of dowry, women subjugation and the fight for gender equality.

Poet from Bihar

He is an established Hindi writer, poet and well know journalist. Manglesh Dabral will recite his poems. He is a major voice in contemporary Hindi poetry. His poetry has been translated into major Indian and foreign languages.


Students from Maxfort school will perform a song: Barabari- which was specially written for the One Billion Rising campaign for Dwarka event.


Born in 1980, Namrata Pamnani began her training in Kathak with Guru Smt. Bharti Gupta with later specialization under Pt. Jaikishan Maharaj at the National Institute of Dance, Kathak Kendra, in New Delhi. A graduate in Economics from Delhi University, Namrata decided to take up her passion as a profession. She has also taken formal training in Hindustani classical music and holds a diploma from Prayag Sangeet Samiti; she is also learning the nuances of dhrupad singing from the Gundecha brothers. Namrata believes that dance is a form of self purification.

Some of her major overseas performances have been at the Lincoln Centre in New York, the International Kathak Festival in Chicago, the Avignon Festival in France, and at venues in Switzerland, Estonia, Finland, South Korea, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Moscow, Sri Lanka and Germany.

Within India she has been featured at the Kathak Mahotsava (Baroda), Konark Festival, Pt. Lacchu Maharaj Utsav, Kalakshetra Festival, Natya Vriksha Festival, Taj Mahotsava and Kathak Yatra by Sangeet Natak Academy. Namrata has been a member of the renowned Kathak Kendra Repertory, New Delhi where she had the opportunity of working under some of the best gurus.
Namrata will be performing a piece on non-violence specially conceived for Anhad.

Siddi Goma Tribal Dance Group

The Siddis of Gujarat are a tribal Sufi community of East African origin which came to India eight centuries ago and made Gujarat their home. They carried with them their exceptionally rich musical tradition and kept it alive and flourishing through the generations, unknown to the rest of the world.

A traditional occupation of African-Indian Sufis in Gujarat has been to perform sacred music and dance as wandering faqirs, singing songs to their black Sufi saint, Bava Gor.

Sidi Goma perform in a group of twelve: four lead musicians (drummers and singers) and eight dancers. While the music gradually gets more rapid and excited, the dances unfold with constantly evolving individual and small-group acts of animal imitations, climaxing in a coconut-breaking feat.

The exuberant energy and joy Sidi Goma brings to the stage is captivating and powerful, their unique African-Indian heritage a fascinating discovery, and every performance an exhilarating experience!

VIDYA SHAH is a singer, composer and writer from New Delhi, India. She was initially trained in Carnatic music, and later received guidance in the North Indian genres of Khayal (from Shubha Mudgal and Mujahid Hussain Khan) and Thumri Dadra, and Ghazal (from Shanti Hiranand). She has performed at several national and international forums, including the Tansen Samaroh in Gwalior,
The Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C, The Asia Society in New York and the Bode Museum in Berlin.

A popular performer and a prolific composer, she is a recipient of the Charles Wallace Award, a Senior Fellowship from the Government of India and is Director of “Women on Record”, a performance highlighting the contributions of the forgotten women performers in the Gramophone era. She will be singing progressive poetry from Faiz, Ibn e Insha, Ali Sardar Jafri.

He is an established Hindi writer, poet and well know journalist. Vishnu Nagar will recite his poems.
Documentaries by Mohan Kumawat & Sania Hashmi (Anhad Production House) and Arma Ansari (Anhad)