“I have been consistent throughout my journey, and that is perhaps my greatest strength.”
I believe that no one is born a criminal, and with love, we can change lives. Being the eldest child, I was well-aware of the responsibilities awaiting me. I took admission in Kolkata University to study Criminal Psychology. Today, I work towards transforming former north-eastern militants into better humans. Even the incident wherein I was shot in the left leg in 2014 by unconstitutional forces and left to die in the forest did not compromise my dedication to rehabilitating the lives of the former militants.
My Baba was kidnapped & tortured for days in the North-eastern region. The trauma I underwent during that time shaped my life as a tribal rights activist. I was born and brought up around the tribal regions of Guwahati. As I share the tribal roots, I naturally relate and connect with the people of this region. And when you understand their challenges through their own lens, you have real empathy for their survival plight in the tribal regions. In 2016, I shifted with my family Karnataka. But even then, I travelled to the North-East every fortnight to continue my crusade.
Under the Sustainable Menstrual Project, I encourage women to use bio-degradable sanitary napkins. 30000 tribal women have benefitted across India under this program. Within this initiative, tribal women receive education about the production, application and viability of these bio-degradable pads that they consume and sell. This practice is a beautiful system of eco-friendly income generation that solves a real hygiene challenge for women.
In 2017, my husband and I founded the Saksham Foundation. Through this foundation, we educate and subsequently enhance the lives of the tribal people. We strongly believe that all tribal communities must prioritize a base line literacy so that they can at least write their names, recognize the numbers on currency notes, and comprehend important notices displayed on Billboards.
Ananya was awarded Karamveer Chakra, the global civilian honour, in 2019. This award is given to people across the globe for relentless courage.