While much of our work is activist in nature, as with women, with rural, urban and tribal communities and through the numerous campaigns that we have initiated and been part of, it is rooted essentially in a more reflective praxis that is able to integrate the more aesthetic and the analytical. For it has grown around a vision which has always sought the continuities in politics, in art and all other dimensions of life; all the while avoiding the extreme specialisation which informs both mainstream and alternative institutions. Some of our ongoing initiatives include:
The Free Tree- An Open University
The Free Tree that we from CIEDS Collective have initiated for students from Universities abroad who come to "Study India", is part of our ongoing attempt to create open spaces of critical learning through more inclusive, incisive and introspective intercultural encounters that allow for the creation of free questioning spirits in search of new knowledges, new wisdoms from the perspective of the Global South. The Free Tree is part of the larger dream of an Open University through which we seek to connect scholars, activists, artists, poets and visionaries across countries and cultures in search of new universalisms, rooted in ancient wisdoms and new visions.
A well known women’s organisation that involves women from within and outside the Collective, Vimochana, for the past two decades through its various campaigns, publicprotests and meetings, counselling and direct intervention and providing shelter to women in distress, has attempted to understand and respond to issues related to violence against women at all levels.
Streelekha: A Woman’s Book place
Set up in 1985, as the first feminist bookshop in Asia, Streelekha grew out of the need in the women’s movement and Vimochana to create a space in which women’s literature, their experiences, visions, writings, poetry could get visibility. It continues to be a sought after reference and resource centre in India for those who seek knowledge and information on gender as also other issues related to other social movements, communications and aesthetics.
Asian Women’s Human Rights Council
AWHRC that grew out of Vimochana and the CIEDS Collective which together host the India secretariat which is also at present the Regional Secretariat, is an Asia level organisation which seeks to extend and transform the human rights discourse from the perspectives and life visions of the South, the marginalised, the women. With Country Secretariats in different regions of the Asia Pacific including Nepal, Australia, Thailand, Bangladesh and India, its programmes include Courts of Women; campaigns, advocacy and lobbying; workshops and roundtables; fact finding missions; networking and participating in international meetings; creating and dissemination of
publications and audiovisuals.
Bangalore Film Society
Committed to evolving a new perspective for film aesthetic through exploring cultural politics and how it impacts and shapes the modern cultural practices, politics and social behaviour, Bangalore Film Society is one of the oldest film societies in the city. Apart from regularly screening outstanding films of internationally acclaimed film directors from various countries for its members and initiating a process of intercultural dialogue, we have also been conducting regular film festivals and seminars on specific issues like women, human rights, development, communalism, migration and displacement.
Deep Focus – A Film Quarterly
DEEP FOCUS, has been acknowledged as one of India's most serious film journal for people who recognise cinema as the most potent medium of expression to emerge in our times; for people who recognise the intellectual validity and importance of film criticism. Apart from carrying critiques of cinema’s masters, it regularly contains writings on the socio-cultural and political significance of popular cinema, writings on the generation of meanings through cinematic signs and so on.
Based in Goa, Conversations is an initiative that along with students, women and craftspeople in the village communities around where it is located seeks to bring personal artistic expression back to the centre of public articulation and politics.
Centre for Vernacular Architecture
The Centre for Vernacular Architecture, through innovative building design and construction techniques, seeks to reaffirm the relevance of those building technologies and materials that have been overwhelmed and universalised by modern material and capital. At the core of its initiative is the recovery and promotion of a non-universal’ building culture.
Community Organising: The Hakki Pikki and Iruliga Tribal Society
While the specific nature of our interventions may vary in the different communities, where CIEDS and Vimochana are involved, our vision revolves around strengthening community based norms and institutions of justice and conflict resolution. The Hakki Pikki and Iruliga Tribal Society initiated by SIEDS - Deepa, that has been working in the tribal and rural communities around the Bannerghatta National Park, seeks to also enhance livelihood options of the community through building on locally available resources, indigenous skills and local wisdoms.
Campaigns and Networks
Apart from the areas of work initiated and sustained by CIEDS and Vimochana, we have also initiated and been involved in time bound campaigns and networks on specific issues - those which are local, national and international. These campaigns have emerged from the ongoing areas of work as with human rights, housing rights, environment and peace or have been a response to a crisis situation as for instance in communal riots and wars.
Conference and Training Centre
As part of it’s efforts at self sufficiency, CIEDS has opened out the training facilities created at Vimochana’s women’s shelter in Vemgal, Kolar for hire to other institutions and organisations for residential workshops and conferences.The facilities provided include a conference hall, workshop spaces and residential accommodation all of which find a natural home in the rock sculpted landscape and vast open spaces through the building techniques of Centre for Vernacular Architecture.
Library and Documentation: The T.G. Vaidyanathan Memorial Library
The CIEDS Collective has built up over the years an invaluable learning resource in the library that stocks a vast collection of books on a range of issues including political theory, philosophy, art, media, communication and film, literature and women’s studies. In 2005, we were privileged with the honour of hosting the rare collection of books belonging to Prof. T.G. Vaidyanathan, English Professor, Bangalore University. A teacher, mentor and inspiration to all who knew him, TGV (as he was called) wrote and spoke extensively on a wide range of issues while focussing on cinema and cricket. The T.G.V. Memorial Library reflects his eclectic tastes in knowledge creation.