South Asia Foundation, founded in 1991, is a registered (non-profit, private) voluntary organization, dedicated to the cause of upliftment of downtrodden people of the society with special emphasis on crafts sector by creating job opportunities. The Foundation is working with the aim to foster co-operation and understanding among the people of the region; and to rekindle the spirit of humaneness and oneness.
The Thrust Areas are:
The Foundation has been taking out publications on important issues concerning South Asia and has also been working for dissemination of information for better understanding and more human approach in the region.
South Asia Foundation has set up a Crafts Development Centre (first ever in that region) at Namchi, South Sikkim where requisite logistical supports are provided to the artisans of Sikkim. The project extended benefits to rural artisans with design & product development, skill training & skill up gradation managerial & marketing support. SAF has introduced micro-credit facilities through Self Help Groups for the first time in that region.
South Asia Foundation is the first development organization of India to have started projects in Nepal, singed an MOU with the Govt. of Nepal for development of arts n crafts with special emphasis on women empowerment.
The Foundation has taken up the challenge of remodeling the Potters Village in New Delhi, known as Sainik Enclave Kumhaar Gram, believed to be the largest potters’ settlement in Asia. It has initiated all round development work at that village aiming at improving their livelihood. It includes imparting skill training, skill upgradation, capacity building, micro finance support, creating new marketing channels and basic infrastructure development. 700 potters’ families are being covered in this Project of the Foundation, where the Foundation has been able to connect these potters with the credit facility with the Central Bank of India.
The Foundation has Regional Chapters in all the South Asian countries.
The Foundation is the first voluntary organization from outside Sikkim that had started all round development work in that State. It has been able to make considerable impact in a short span of time through its Project, since 1997, called Rural Economic Advancement Program (REAP/SIKKIM). It has been able to provide skill training to more than 900 artisans directly & provided requisite logistics to more than 2700 artisans of State. It has also set up various Satellite Crafts Training Centres, in remote locations to reach out to people and bring development prospects, right at the doorsteps of the rural poor who are basically deprived of the development perspective & neglected by the policy planners.
SAF is also running various socio-economic development programmes, especially in the crafts sector in UP, Delhi & Goa. It includes organizing crafts-persons, formation of SHGs, medical & social camps, workshops on micro credit , craft melas and Kashi Utsav, a three-day classical music festival, in collaboration with Sankat Mochan Foundation, a Varanasi based organization, whose effort to save the river Ganga has invited global concern and attracted international attention on the plight of the river. Also, a school is being set up in Gujarat at an earthquake-hit village at Rapar with the support of Prof. Amartya Sen’s Pratichi Trust.
The Foundation is making issue based films of human interest. Its support in production of a Bengali film, which is a sequel to Satyajit Ray’s much acclaimed film Aranyer din ratri (days and nights of the forest), entitled Abar araanye (again in the forest) directed by Goutam Ghose has generated very positive response from the audience. It has also bagged coveted National Award in three categories for the year 2003.
The Foundation’s first film “The Treasure in the Snow: Sikkim” received the National Award with the citation “The award for the Best Promotional Film of the year 2002 is given to the English film THE TREASURE IN THE SNOW: SIKKIM for its weaving of a magical cinematic spell that vividly captures the mist and mystery of the abundant natural beauty of Sikkim – its history, people and culture”.
The Foundation has been organizing the annual South Asian Film Festival with the theme of dissolving boundaries in New Delhi. Recently it has made Goa the permanent venue of SAFF at the initiative & invitation of the Government of Goa. This initiative of the Foundation, to bring together the film makers from South Asian Region on one platform, has been well received by the film makers & film personalities of the region who participate in the South Asian Film Festival in full strength. Indian film makers have been particularly supporting this effort of the Foundation and their overwhelming representation in the Festival is extremely encouraging.