Open Heart Charity


Shabnam has worked for over 20 years as an activist. Main focus of her work has been around issues related to combating communalism and the ideology of hate. She has also been actively and creatively engaged with other concerns like women’s literacy, children’s education, violence against women, adoption, Dalit human rights and the development of a scientific temper. She regularly writes for various national newspapers.

Shabnam’s work is best defined by the creativity of her approach. Shabnam for fifteen years remained motivating force behind the activities, ideas and projects of SAHMAT collectively generated by the community of artists and intellectuals.

He is currently Executive Director and Member of the Board of The Times of India Group to help build organizational capability, culture and competitiveness.

After the Gujarat carnage, Shabnam along with a few other intellectuals and activists formed Anhad (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy) in March 2003.

The unique feature of Shabnam’s work lies is in the range of her work. Her office is a sort of melting pot of ideas, where anyone — a child from Gujarat, a political leader, senior police officers — walk in and is treated just the same. There is a lot of ideating, conversation and endless cups of tea for everyone. In a day’s work, Shabnam handles a range of varied concerns — from getting a child admitted to school, getting someone a job urgently, giving media interviews, contacting politicians or the police on some issue, designing campaign posters for some dalit organisation, to getting celebrities to sign statements or rushing for an important demonstration — simultaneously.

In March 2003, when she started Anhad, she had just returned from one year of working with victims of the Gujarat carnage. The governments of Gujarat and in the Centre were controlled by rightwing fascist political party, and working in Gujarat at that time involved personal and physical danger. Shabnam, to share the grief of the rape victims and provide them the required help, fearlessly, travelled to remote villages of carnage effected areas. She felt the need to expand and ideologically fight the hate propaganda, as also to engage more deeply with grassroots concerns. This gave birth to idea of Anhad — literally, limitless. She conceived of it as an open platform, where people who work for peace and harmony can come together from various disciplines. It is the efforts of Shabnam and others like her that ensured the defeat of the fascist forces in India.

Shabnam’s consistent and strident criticism of the communalisation of politics has won her many enemies. She has also been physically attacked several times. Before the General Elections in India Shabnam with 40 students (14-20 years old) travelled across India by road covering 15,000 kms and 40 cities. In every city the young students addressed press conferences and appealed to the young voter to defeat the communal forces. During this major all-India campaign organised by Anhad, the rightwing organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad attacked her twice. In the second attack, she got nine stitches on her face and head. As soon as the doctor had finished with the stitches, despite protests from relatives and friends, she continued the campaign across forty cities.