|What is the colour of your toothbrush?||blue|
|If you could be any animal who would you be?||A Friendly Dog|
|Who is your favourite football player?||chima okorie|
|Where would you go if you are invisible?||Theatre|
|What would you name your yacht?||JAMAL, it mean's beautiful|
|Are you religious or spiritual?||Spiritual|
|What was the last thing you have googled?||Handloom fabric|
Weaving, innovating and trading, is a fascinating interconnected universe that contours our craft and predicts its survival. My career has been shaped by documenting and researching distraught areas of our country and now I enjoy the peace and the serenity weavers bring to my life.
I was born in the quintessential town of Lucknow with a contemporary upbringing in Delhi by understanding, liberal and supportive parents, who allowed me to follow my heart. I finished my Masters of Philosophy in Sociology from Kirorimal College at Delhi and through my educational years I have worked and interned at a lot of philanthropic organisations that paved the way to the purpose of my life.
Q-Tell us briefly about your professional journey
I took my first job after my college at MARG, where I worked for a year and a half. I was travelling to Chattisgarh for documenting displacement caused by large-scale development. Then I moved to SEWA Lucknow. It is an organisation working with Chikankari artisans. I was engaged with the weavers at Baragaon in making the fabric on which Chikankari was done.
Then I came back to do my M. Phil. from Delhi School Of Economics. I worked for Pioneer newspaper for a year but didn’t enjoy much because I was missing the philanthropic aspect. I also worked very briefly with the centre for science and environment-society before I joined Oxfam.
Out of Oxfam, AMAN trust was formed in 2001. Currently, I am engaged with a project named Baragaon Weavers to build a sustainable business for handloom.
Q-Dealing with agitation at close quarters; how do you do that?
What I have learnt over the years is to work with the help of people — the natives, they would always support a good cause if they see your conviction. And they would guide you how to step on safe ground from a safety point of view. You need to be very patient, it doesn’t happen overnight.
If you want a sustained growth you have to be patient, there isn’t a way out. We are not changing anything overnight. Though some people would think of our work as boring but building inordinate foundations does take time.
Q-So what was your first stint as a social worker?
My first internship was in 1997, in the drought-stricken Rajasthan; got together with like-minded students from other colleges and went to help the drought victims in Barmer in the scorching heat. We stayed on for a month and studied the situation in depth- I guess that was the turning point of my ‘social working’ thought process.
Q-Tell us about the transition from school to college; being exposed to the society at large.
Freedom! From the freedom to take care of your own encumbrances, to perpend about the society and create one’s own outlook. That was where the seeds of my philanthropic ideas were sown as I realized that I wanted to contribute to the society in my own way. And my parents were pretty understanding and supportive of my thought process.
Q-What is your first memory of any philanthropic work?
The earliest memory of a philanthropic work would be in the unfortunate 1984 riots. I was in 10th standard when Delhi was literally burning. It was very distressing for all of us. We were staying in Jamia and tried collecting basic life-supporting benefaction for the riot victims. This incident got etched on my mind forever.
I was in 10th standard and Delhi was actually burning.
Q-How was Aman foundation conceptualised?
It has a long history. We were asked to design a project on conflict resolution and peacebuilding for Oxfam and it becomes very big. The organisation saw potential in our work and asked us to become independent. It took two years and we launched AMAN foundation in 2001. Our work was appreciated and recognised so we got funding. We came to a full circle.
Q-Does politics affect this work?
There are people who don’t want good to happen. But this is something you explain to the audience, not the politician. And people are becoming smarter every day and it’s not so easy to fool them. It takes a lot of effort to organise violence.
Q-What’s the one professional advice you’d like to extend to the readers?
I would say do what you enjoy. There are opportunities everywhere. It will keep you happy and everything else will fall into place eventually. And you have to keep learning without thinking you are the master of anything. Also be Social enough!
Brought up in
Sardar Patel school, Delhi
Kirori mal college
Currently Engaged with
Gandhi ji, for non violence, implicitly and compassion
Travelling, Football, Writing occasionally