A Collective History

Harshness cannot succeed against gentleness. The arrow speeds its way through the
wild elephant but it cannot pierce through yielding cotton. The rock that breaks not for the blows of the long crowbar splits under the gentle stress of the green tree root.

—— Avvaiyar

Centre for Informal Education and Development Studies (CIEDS) is the informal collective space initiated by SIEDS within which multiple ideas, dreams and initiatives have taken root and grown. And these have been at multiple levels:

crisis intervention and shelter for women in distress and community outreach to strengthen local support systems for women while strengthening community-based structures of justice and conflict resolution

working with urban poor and tribal communities on basic rights such as entitlements, land and livelihoods

seeking out multiple forms of aesthetic expressions in diverse fields such as painting, craft, graphic design and theatre

working with cinema in terms of public screenings, organising film festivals and documentary filmmaking

fact finding missions, public hearings and truth commissions in times of linguistic or communal conflicts, riots or where human rights of vulnerable communities have been systematically violated or eroded

being in solidarity with broader networks and campaigns on issues ranging from housing, human rights and environment to peace in South Asia seeking to make governments more responsible and accountable to their people

standing in solidarity with marginalised and vulnerable groups to help secure their fundamental right to livelihood and dignity

initiating learning spaces like “Free Tree” in collaboration with Universities from abroad to open up spaces for critical thinking and reflection outside academia for students involving scholars, scholar-activists, artists and poets across countries and cultures.

Publications of pamphlets, magazines, poetry collections, translations and research projects.

Many of these initiatives have taken specific organisational forms, some of which over the years have either dissolved or become independent and autonomous institutionally from SIEDS and disconnected from the Collective while some continue to be embedded in SIEDS and the Collective.

1976 – 2016: Some Milestones

  • People’s Rights Committee – a forum for civil liberties and human rights
  • Parisara- an environment forum
  • Janandolana – People for Peace
  • Janamadhyam – a documentary filmmakers initiative
  • Shramik – a workers cooperative
  • Vimochana – forum for women’s rights
  • Asian Women’s Human Rights Council
  • Streelekha- a feminist book shop
  • Bangalore Film Society
  • Free Tree – a space for critical thinking and reflection outside academia
  • Conversations-Goa – an artist’s village in the making
  • Kuteera- Kolar – a shelter for women in distress
  • Deep Focus – a film quarterly
  • Kutty Japanin Kuzhadaigal- a film on child labour in Sivakasi
  • Voices from the Waters International film festival focusing on water
  • Revisuality – a phototypesetting unit
  • Centre for Vernacular Architecture
  • The Hakki Pikki and Iruliga Tribal Society