Every other month, ardent feminist and literature buffs meet at the Sanskaari Girls Book Club for a fun night of exchanging literature and more. It is a space for curious feminists to explore a range of readings in a safe, supportive and diverse setting. Vandita Morarka is the Founder and CEO of One Future Collective, a feminist youth led NGO under which the book club runs and the idea conceptualised by Vandita and Nishma Jethwa, Program Director and Feminist Justice at One Future Collective.
From books like Cyber Sexy by Richa Padte, Ms. Militancy by Meena Kandasamy to The Liberation of Sita by Volga and many more bibliophiles from different walks of life participate in this book club.
Speaking about her motive for the book club Vandita says, “Spread in six different states for now and conducting sessions every other month, the club focuses on South Asian feminist authors which is not otherwise common even in feminist spaces and reading clubs. It allows us to understand the deep history of feminism in South Asia itself without having to refer back only to Global North authors.”
The factor that interests the attendees is the topics and themes that are discussed in a lighter and less academic way. When asked about what influenced them towards the name (Sanskaari) of the club, Vandita shares, “It was a funny play on words, given that we are breaking that sanskaari stereotype just by even gathering in this way and discussing feminism, literature and our lives and realities so openly. The idea was to take the word sanskaari and flip it on its head.”
With quite a mix across cities, there is a leaning towards women in the meets ups which is evident and inevitable believes Vandita. She adds, “Regular attendees give a hope that they are gaining something from the space. The reason we focus on feminism is because the existing numerous book clubs were not seen focusing on the essence of South Asian literature and its relationship with the patriarchal world we live in. The club also tries to focus on regional works and their translations.”
Speaking about several ways for those interested to get in touch and participate in their dialogues Vandita says, “The club has a running curated crowd-sourced book list and follows a general way of suggesting books on city WhatsApp groups. We also take the suggestions of the attendees into account but also weigh it against the affordability of the book.”
Relating to what satisfies her the most about the club Vandita concludes, “These sessions are not just extremely engaging and eye-opening. Attendees usually are a varied mix and the perspectives brought in are diverse, challenging and inclusive. We often have seen the attendees move away from biases and misconceptions during the course of our sessions.”...