15th March 2013 0 By Nandini



Earlier that evening, I was sitting outdoors (at last!) looking at the sky. It’s one of those skies, I thought to myself. Where the poetry is communicated through jets that create white streaks across the clear blue expanse, with just a few, little clouds gazing softly on.

Reminds me of a story my father’s friend, Sunny uncle once told us about his daughter. She was seven and sitting on the back seat of the car he was driving. The sun was setting on the horizon of a smog-filled Hyderabad city. His daughter exclaimed, ‘how beautiful the sunset is!’ Sunny uncle looked out of the window, grunted and said, ‘that’s because of the pollution’. She sighed and said, ‘how beautiful the pollution is’! Sunny uncle grunted once more and dropped the subject.

How beautiful the pollution is, I think on this evening staring at the jet- streaked dazzling blue sky with all the promise of crossing boundaries.

Roshan Paul

‘Aman’ is a word that does just that; only it’s completely free of pollution. Roshan Paul explains to his small, engaged, determined group of  ‘change-makers’ later that same evening. Across several boundaries, from Morocco to Indonesia ‘aman’ means more or less the same – a peace-filled, conflict free state of being. In Swahili, the word is ‘amani’. That is what he decided to call his Institute, based in Kenya – The Amani Institute. They’re going to be running a program, ‘Social Entrepreneurship and Peace building’ later this year, promising hands on practical experience with plenty of challenge and out of the box thinking to social problems and their solutions. Roshan Paul is originally from Bangalore, India but along with his Argentinian partner, chose Kenya as the destination for the Amani Institute because it’s a hub for innovation in the field of social entrepreneurship today.

Having left that sky behind I’m now with the group in Pakhuis de Zwijger, where almost everybody’s introductions point to people who have and are crossing boundaries, crossing disciplines, because that is what is needed, according to the Amani Institute to solve many of the pressing problems facing us in the world today. So the less we fit into boxes, the better. Several of the folks present are alumni or students of THINK- The Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership. Some of them are students of Knowmads – a school for the education of change-makers, also based in Amsterdam.

But, back to Sunny uncle and his daughter – would the sunset look as beautiful without the smog?

Is it the smog, the pollution that makes the change-makers I see on this evening glow more than ever?


More about the Amani Insititute 

More about Knowmads  

More about THINK -The Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership


From the Amani Institute website