For the past 6 months or so, I have been associated with Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (ANS), an organization that aims to promote rational thought in society and works for the elimination of superstitions, blind faith & customs. Many social movements tend to peak in about 3 years since inception and then tend to die out in another 3-5 years. However the ANS has been at work for a remarkable 20+ years.
This is especially admirable cause the ANS deals with sensitive issues like caste, religion & customs and so is regularly under attack from various right wing & extremist groups from all castes & religions.
The ANS is often perceived as an anti-religion organization, however from my interactions I have noted that the bulk of its work is in the field of stopping customs like black magic and trying to cultivate a scientific attitude amongst the youth. It also spends some effort in trying to expose “god men” reported of exploiting their followers.
The all inclusive nature of ANS is something I have found especially striking & impressive. It has cadres & leaders from all castes, religions & parts of Maharashtra. This is one aspect I particularly like, as I get to meet, interact & hear the thoughts of people from very backgrounds than mine.
ANS is holding a 3 day convention to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the organization, look back at its achievements & failings and plan for the future. The event promises to provide tons of food for thought from distinguished personalities in various walks of life. Please find the detailed invite & schedule below.
The lineup of speakers includes many well known names like Medha Patkar, Jabbar Patel, Kumar Ketkar, Narendra Dabholkar, Mohan Dharia, Baba Adhav, Govind Pansare, Shriram Lagu, Pushpa Bhave, Atul Kulkarni, Anil Awachat, Uttam Kamble, RR Patil…
Strangely enough, I have found that the ANS has least reach & penetration amongst the (urban, educated, well-off, English speaking youth). Considering most of you reading this would fit that description , do share the event info in relevant forums, friends & family. Most non-Maharashtrians & non-Marathi speakers in Maharashtra understand Marathi well enough to be able to make sense of proceedings at the event. So language need not stop you.
I look forward to meeting you at the ANS convention. Hope to live tweet as & when possible, with the hashtag #ANS20
Dates: 14,15,16 Jan 2011
Venue: ShivShankar Karyalay, 698 Paygude Baug, Maharshi nagar, Gultekdi, (Near Swargate), Pune (MAP)