Meeto memorial Award 2009

Anusheh Anadil is a musician, a song-writer, a cultural activist and an ethnic-crafts entrepreneur from Dhaka, Bangladesh. However, it is largely her meaningful music that has made Anusheh a name to reckon with. Though trained in classical music, she is also greatly influenced by the club music of Canada and the music of Lalon Shai, the great Bangladeshi Baul philosopher poet. In 1998, Anusheh started a fusion band – Bangla which is ‘a city band with a Baul soul; a guitar longing to be a dotara; a dotara longing to be a guitar’. The band engages with one of the most important issues of our timereligious

freedom. Through her music, Anusheh passionately fights against religious intolerance. The message of unity and self exploration resonates through her music. In times when style scores over content and commercial popularity is the benchmark of good music, Anusheh has chosen to make music that is difficult, brave and engaging. To her credit, Anusheh’s music is extraordinarily popular.

For a composite of Anusheh Anadil’s creative achievements in the field of music and craft, and promoting liberal thinking in Bangladesh, she has been selected as one of the two recipients of the Meeto Memorial Award 2009.

Laxmi Ben Vankar is an intrepid woman. A Dalit from the village of Vyaseda, 25 kilometers away from Godhra, Gujarat, Laxmi realized early in life that her journey would be far from easy. So she turned each challenge into an opportunity to make this world a better place. After the demise of her father in 1992, Laxmi joined her mother as

a daily wage laborer to help raise her younger siblings. In spite of severe financial hurdles and hardships, she graduated in 1997 and decided to commit her life to the well-being of society. This came to fruition in 2001 when she formed and registered the Triveni Anusuchit Jati Education Trust, a hostel for Dalit girls where they could stay and study for free. However, lack of adequate funding forced her to shelve her dream.

Laxmi was undeterred. In 2003, she joined Aman Samudaya, a campaign for peace, justice and communal harmony that was started as a response to the Gujarat communal carnage in 2002. She worked in many villages where she conducted surveys, provided relief and immediate livelihood support for victims of the genocide.

Over the years, Laxmi has actively interacted with the media and led many campaigns in different villages and tallukas. In her words, “If one desires to devote one’s life to the society, then one has to be sensitive. But that sensitivity needs to be channelized through good exposure”.

A single woman in her mid-thirties, Laxmi hopes that the work done by her and other like-minded people would one day transform communal minds into peaceful and secular ones. It is her wish to work for peace and communal harmony till her last breath so that everyone gets justice. Laxmi has not just overcome the extremely difficult circumstances but also become a successful social and political change agent. This Award is being given to her for her courage, commitment, fearlessness, innate sense of justice and rights for all.