Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Final Report of Project

Creativity and Innovation in riot-affected children of Ahmedabad

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the course

CINE: Understanding Creativity, Innovation, Knowledge Networks and Entrepreneurship

Submitted to

Prof. Anil Gupta


3rd March 2007


Kumar Rahul Roushan



The project was undertaken as an attempt to understand the effects of the unfortunate Gujarat riots of 2002 on children. The 2002 riots were one of the worst crimes against humanity and life, and it had affected thousands of families. The worst victims, as always, were women and children. Five years have passed since then, and wounds have started to heal, but the effect on tender psyche of children needs to be analyzed and understood, and constructive steps need to be taken.

The author had seen a documentary called “Final Solution”, produced and directed by Rakesh Sharma, where very negative effects of riots was writ large on face and statements of kids. The documentary contained a little ‘interview’ with a five-or-so year old kid called Ijaz, one part of the interview right at the beginning of the documentary and the one part at the end. Ijaz talked about the horrors he had witnessed during riots in the first part, and in the second part he says that he wants to become a soldier and kill Hindus, because all Hindus are bad and they had killed his relatives.

The author was very moved and disturbed after seeing the documentary, and wanted to talk to children like Ijaz and understand the kind of effect riots had on them. Such effects could have impacted their thinking, their creativity, their desires and their outlook towards life. Author wanted to meet such children in person and get a first hand experience and observation of such effects.

Riots and children

Children and Women are the worst victims of any disaster, especially if it is man made. Due to them being physically weaker, they end up being soft targets of crime against humanity. The children suffer in many ways. Not only they are orphaned or physically maimed, they end up being witness to the most horrendous crimes and scenes that leaves a very deep psychic wound in them. Such wounds don’t heal easily.

Gujarat riots (2002) changed the lives of thousands of children. Many of them lost their parents and relatives, and the worst aspect was that they saw them being murdered, maimed, raped and burnt before their eyes. Even a full grown adult male would be disturbed and traumatized after seeing such scenes. The effect on a tender psyche of a child is unimaginable.

This project aimed at meeting such children who were affected in some way due to those unfortunate riots and trying to observe and feel the effect.

Previous studies and observations

There have been some studies, both medical and sociological, on children who were victims of the riots. Most of the children were found to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which causes problems like irritability, sadness, fear, sleep disturbances, difficulties in concentrating and feelings of guilt.

According to a study on PTSD in children and adolescents affected by the riots, conducted in February 2006 by mental health professionals belonging to the Psychiatry Department of B J Medical College and Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad, close to five percent of the 255 interviewed showed signs of the disorder even four years after the riots, whereas 9.4 percent of them suffered from depression. Around 50 out of 255showed symptoms of some disorder, which was not PTSD, but they neededmedical help.

Most of the children and adolescents interviewed in the above study by the civil hospital were from Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Vadodara, Anand, Panchmahal and Sabarkantha. Most of their parents and were living in poverty with over 65 percent coming from families whose monthly incomes were less than Rs.1000. One hundred and ninety eight of those interviewed were Muslims andthe rest were Hindus. (India Together)

Even after fiver years, if still five percent of the children are diagnosed with PTSD and ten percent suffering from depression, one can imagine the situation immediately after the riots.A study conducted immediately after the riots in 2002 interviewed around 100 children in the relief camps at Shah-e-Alam and Dariya Khan Ghummat. The resultsshowed that almost 97 percent of the children suffered from disorder.

Situation surely has improved when compared to the times close to riots, but still a lot is left to be done. It is very apparent from studies that active social intervention has helped a lot in making the lives of these children better.Many of them have started feeling the beauty of life again. Otherwise many were afraid that something terrible might happen again. In fact some of the children were even afraid of a cracker bursting at Diwali, now some of them can enjoy such festivities, and their life seems to be getting normal thanks to active social intervention by likes of Arzoo Centre.

Arzoo Centre

Arzoo Centre is an initiative by Ms. Sulekha Ali and friends which was started in 2002, closely after the riots. Sulekha was herself hit by riots and had to take shelter in Shah-e-Alam camp, a temporary shelter for riot victims. Sulekha could see many children in that camp who were either orphaned or were rendered homeless due to riots.The days spent atShah-e-Alam brought Sulekha and these children together. They used to play and talk to alleviate their misfortune and tried to put together pieces of their lives.

When situation in Ahmedabad started normalizing, it was time for people to move out of the camp. Sulekha immediately felt that though she, only an adolescent, can take care of herself, the children seemed to have no place to go back. That realization gave Sulekha and some of her friends the idea to form a self-help group to take care of such children, which they called Arzoo Centre.

Arzoo Centre is situated in Behrampura area of Ahmedabad city and it is helping dozens of children find meaning of life again. Children, most of them below 10 years, are taught basic linguistic skills here and primary education and knowledge is imparted to them to prepare them for higher education.

The best thing about the centre is that Hindu and Muslim kids study together, which doesn’t make it a ghetto where a person might grow up with imagined prejudices and threats from other communities.

Apart from education, Arzoo centre imparts skill training to these children, which makes them explore the creative and innovative part of themselves. Children make beautiful handicrafts and paperwork which the centre puts on exhibition and they also help in generating some funds for meeting a small part of their expenses.

Children at Arzoo

The author met children at Arzoo on three occasions – when they had come to perform at Chaos 2007, the annual cultural festival of IIM Ahmedabad, when CINE participants went for a walk around the city, and once on a personal visit. The observations of author are primarily based on active interactions with children and by being a passive spectator to their activities on these occasions.

Children were always enthusiastic in their dealings and none of them overtly seemed to be still suffering from bad effects of the riots. But only a prolonged observation and an expert analysis can tell whether these children are free from any traumatic disorders. Most of the children seemed to have got over their tragic past and were looking to a safe and beautiful future. In such a scenario, author never thought it wise to ask these children about those tragic days. Obviously some of them must have been so young that they wouldn’t be remembering anything. Even those children who where older were busy with their present and dreams about future and author thought it better not to dig their past.

Most of the children whom author met were quite sharp and innovative, and there was an eagerness to prove themselves. When posed with a question, all of them were constantly trying to find answers even without any incentive of awards. Neither tough questions nor some worry about playing deterred them from their endeavor to find answers to challenging questions. In fact, they enjoyed challenges.

Almost all of them treasured their education, whatever basic one they were getting. All of them wanted to study further and therefore didn’t have any specific vocations in mind. When posed with a question like, “what do you want to become when you would grow up?” most of them answered that right now they wanted to study when they grow older.

This in a way showed some apprehension in their mind that perhaps they won’t be able to continue education for long due to their poverty. That’s why the only thing they want to do right now is to study. There was one girl though who was very clear in her mind that she wanted to become a School Teacher. The girl’s name was Roshni.She liked this profession as she thought her teachers were doing a very good job.

Where probed deeper about what they wanted to do in future, most of the students replied in answers like they wanted to build airplanes, big houses, etc. So even though they might be apprehensive of continuation of their education, they had big dreams.

One aspect that was very striking in these children was – Sense of independence. When asked how would they bring money for building airplanes or houses, none of them replied that they would ‘ask’ their relatives, friends, or teachers to get the money. All of them had some idea as to how would they manage the money. They came up with all kinds of answers, but they never told that they would take ‘help’ of someone.

The creativity and innovative aspects of the children becomes very apparent through their skillful and beautiful handicraft and paperwork. They need a platform to showcase talent, and whenever they find one, they always prove themselves.

These children need support and right now only organizers i.e. Sulekha and her friends are providing that vital support. But organizers don’t know how exact meaning of an NGO, and how one should run such organizations.

They face problems of paying rent for the school premises and salary to the teachers. Most of their funds come from occasional visits by benevolent guests. They surely need volunteers and expert help. As was pointed out is one of the researches also, active social intervention can solve many problems of such children.

The Road Ahead

People have to be really sensitized for active social intervention and acceptance of these kids. They need to know how much these children have suffered and how can their present and future be shaped. Arzoo Kids pose just a sample but there could be many others not-so-lucky children who would be in need of continuous medical help also.

Author had also visited juvenile home at Khanpur to meet a riot-affected kid, but could not meet him as he was released some days before the visit. But the visit showed the need for speedy justice to juveniles/children languishing in jail or battling cases. Many of these juveniles are children who have been pushed to crime or have been rendered homeless due to riots. There prolonged stay in juvenile homes due to slow process and red-tapism only adds to their problems and makes them more irritable and recalcitrant.

It’s important to use their skill-set and give them an opportunity to smile. Such children need to be assimilated in the mainstream before it’s too late. Not only sympathy, but a lot of social will is required to make it happen.

The most important step and requirement is to end up prejudices in minds of different communities, especially among Hindus and Muslims for each other. Such imagined threats from each other is causing innocent children to suffer.


India Together:Still suffering, fiver years after – 17 January 2007. Retrieved on 1st March 2007 from