“niiti”, a Sanskrit word means, in different contexts, policy, ethics, tenets. To us, who belong here, it is our raison d’etre, our touchstone. So we constantly turn to our ethics and tenets when we re-examine the basis of what we do and how we do it over and over again. This is our space to engage with our core, with you, our readers and companions on the path towards an equitable society in the deepest meaning of the word. Over the past years, there are several social issues and organisations that we have engaged with and been enriched with both experience and knowledge along the way. We believe that in creating a conversation platform for those engaged in the field, including some of our clients, partners, all of you out there who have reached this site wanting to be the change and others who have expertise to comment and critique, we can actually crowd-source actions and solutions for some of our most pressing social issues.

Some of these stories feature organisations and people who have been the change; others highlight innovative approaches to long-entrenched social issues; yet others point to ways in which change can be facilitated, simply. If you are inspired by them as well and motivated to replicate their work, or want to share inputs on other bright examples like these, do write to us at

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stories of the Horizon

NOTE: Cities have always inspired art. Neil Diamond’s “What a beautiful noise” comes to mind when talking about art related to the urban. Here, our guest columnist, Vinita Karim, explores urban landscape from the perspective of a painter. How cities inspire her and what they mean to her.

The reason that I paint abstract landscape is perhaps because of all the shifting landscapes I have been exposed to.Cities, strange and beautiful,teeming with life and paradoxes, are a source of inspiration for me. Cities are on the move, rapidly growing, they are filled with the old and new living in close proximity--flyovers and skyscrapers augmenting the natural horizon and transforming it irrevocably. Within these broad strokes and large changes there are smaller constants; the colors of the market, the persistent flow in and out of the city. All of which define, as well as provide, context and structure to my work.

My work has many diverse sources stemming from an initial education in Stockholm, followed by exposure to cities rich in history and culture such as Cairo, Bonn, Berne, and Manila.

My earliest memory is of living inBonn, the beautiful, orderly, well planned capital of West Germany. High-rise buildings were present but there were a lot of independent bungalows and houses. However, none of the skyscrapers of today existed then, in the mid sixties. I believe that architecture strongly affects how lives are lived in cities.The galleries of cities like Berlin, Munich and Frankfurtare full of amazing and innovative art. Berlin has kept parts of the old wall intact where one can actually read what people have scribbled and engraved years ago. The four historical quarters have been meticulously preserved. It is truly a great marriage of the past and present.

My next memories are of Delhi.Almost all sizes and types of buildings co-existed amicably with each other. Over the years, however, it has become a mega-city bursting at its seams. What strikes me is how much the city has expanded outwards as well as the rate at which the city is growing everyday. Industrialization and urbanization are the twin forces driving the country forward. This whole system is moving in one huge wave which is sweeping overvillages outside the cities and their habitats and livelihood. Migration adds color and diversity to the cities. Art and crafts, which have always been an integral part of India, are now thriving due to an increased interest and demand. Contemporaryart has multiple sources in our rich tribal and folk art as well as several historical strains of art movements in India.

I have been living in Dhaka for almost two years now and this period is an extremely prolific one for me. Dhaka, with its incessant buzz ofrickshaws, cars and humanity has its own tempo. The city is growing rapidly and more and more people pour in daily in search of livelihood. There is an enormous pressure on infrastructure, power and space. From an aesthetic point of view, the city has really deteriorated. The beautiful green areas and single unit houses have vanished. Instead a concrete jungle has emerged. One needs to leave the city limits to enjoy the fabulous green fields and riches of rivers all over the country. As for the artistic scene here, I believe that Bangladeshis are intrinsically artistic and it is only a matter of time beforeBangladesh finds its way on the art map globally.

A considerable part of my time is spent in Mumbai due to work related activities.The city itself, the buzz, the enterprise and the pace is exhilarating. The slums, the houses, the high rise buildings all emerge in my paintings. Vivid images of colorful streamers, strung across narrow streets at festive times, have found their way into my paintings.

I will be sharing my art with the people of this city in September.

Dhaka-based Karim is currently showing “Stories of the golden horizon” at JAMAAT Gallery,Tulloch Rd. opp. Bade Miyan, Colaba, Mumbai till early October. She can be reached on 022 22822145 or Or via her website,

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