Indien: Ajeet Cour

Ajeet Cour understands the epiphanic role the cultural capital of nations can play in peace-building processes, particularly on the subcontinent.

— Ajeet Cour

Ajeet Cour (born 1934), one of the best-known writers in the Punjabi language, believes that the arts and literature can help build bridges across cultures. She set up the Foundation of Saarc Writers and Literature, a unique track II (people-to-people contact) initiative to establish peace on the subcontinent. In pursuing what she calls her "mad dream" with single-minded passion, Ajeet has drawn together writers, artists, politicians, and educationists from all over South Asia to establish a community of like-minded individuals who hope to change people's way of thinking.

Ajeet Cour began her career as a romantic, but soon matured into a realist. Women's issues and peace have always been the overriding concerns in her works. Her columns and writing have established her role as a crusader for women's issues. Known for having pioneered the art of writing novelettes in Punjabi, she has authored 17 books of fiction and two volumes of autobiography. One of Ajeet's major contributions to connecting people through the arts and literature is the setting up of the Foundation of Saarc Writers and Literature, a unique track II initiative to supplement official efforts to establish peace on the subcontinent. The recent improvement of relations between India and Pakistan is in no small measure attributable to the ambience of understanding and goodwill created by her bringing Saarc literary figures and distinguished journalists together, even when circumstances were adverse. Ajeet also set up the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, which aims to create an atmosphere of greater understanding through the arts. Ajeet's work has satisfied a common thirst for freedom of speech, knowledge, creativity, and peaceful initiative. She has also initiated a process of translation of literary works in different languages of the region, believing that this will help the people of South Asia develop a more broad-based and genuine understanding of one another. One day, she dreams, the culture of peace will be the dominant reality.

Academy of Fine Arts and Literature (Afal) Foundation of Saarc Writers and Literature (FSWL) Indian Council for Poverty Alleviation (Icpa)