Agents of Change
by Meera Srikant
Sriram Ayer is the founder and CEO of Nalandaway Foundation (www.nalandaway.org), which works with children from the poorest districts in India, helping them raise their voices and issues through theatre, visual arts, music, dance, radio and films. Named by the "Outlook Business" magazine as one of the top 50 social entrepreneurs in India, he has received numerous awards, including the World Bank’s "South Asia Development Marketplace" award, "Architect of the future" by Waldzell Institute, Austria, and the fellowship from Ashoka. He shares with Prajnya his reasons for being involved in the campaign and what he hopes to achieve through the Community Café he will facilitate.
Why is this issue important to you?
India and the world have never been kind to women. As someone who strongly believes in equality, non-violence, freedom and justice, I have a responsibility to voice my opinion and take action when such rights and opportunities are denied for women.
What is it you feel most strongly about?
I believe in the eternal goodness of all beings. We perpetrate violence and injustice due to fear and ignorance. It is important to recognise that all perpetrators, men in this discussion, be treated as victims and deserve rehabilitation. This means that we listen to them, help them understand their prejudices and provide training to change behaviour. Studies across the world show that punitive punishment and legal deterrence alone has not helped prevent crimes against women.
Tell us about your activity and what you hope to do with it.
The idea is to create advocates who stand up against crimes on women. During the activity we would like to discuss, challenge our notions, myths and understand practical ways to help each one of us become part of the solution.
Three things you would suggest to keep these individual actions going
Never, never, never give up on human beings. They may not have your sense of urgency but they will come around for the greater good.