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Meet the Padma Shri Awardee - Anita Reddy


An Indian social activist and founder of AVAS, DWARAKA Foundation and DRIK Foundation, known for her services to the poor and the needy. Anita Reddy was awarded with India's fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri by Pratibha Patil in 2011 for her social service. 

Born to philantropist Dwaraknath Reddy, Anita Reddy, a grass-root leader attributes her most valuable life experiences having come from working with urban poor and rural communities and her work rooted in the Trusts championed by her and her father for the past 40 years.


She holds a Bachelors Degree in English literature and a Masters Degree in Social Service.

In her current role, she is steering the idea of establishing ARC - Arts, Rights and Communities, first-ever learning center that would enhance indigenous traditions and heritage knowledge in poor children in many communities including Government schools. It would enable youth to discover the inherent strengths of the area they live in and the wealth of history relevant for the regions development.

"They told me that, Life is a journey of crossroads, back roads, mountains to climb, valleys of despair, deserts and oasis, wilderness and wasteland, rivers to cross, forks in the road, detours, dead ends, and open roads.

I learnt from my communities, and my people living in the slums and villages, villages, that the journey of life may have been unpredictable, but refusing to give up, we would find ourselves flying into the rising sun with hope and faith, like a butterfly that dared its cocoon and burst forth into a free world of peace, love and equality."

Upon meeting her, you can't help but be swept in with her warmth and her drive.

She’s the natural face and heart of her Trust’s work because so much of her passion is sewn into every initiative that she has led.

Managing multiple communities in the field of art, education and housing, she and her team have set an example of positive impact through approaches and a network of women, children and youth. 

In late 1970's, Anita started to develop and improve housing facilities for the people of Bangalore slums. After several successful housing, remodeling projects, she wanted to do more to make a difference. Thus Anita Reddy set on a mission, two decades ago with a strong desire to help those in need.

Ms. Anita Reddy of AVAS (Association for Voluntary Action and Services) endorsing Dr. Ashwin Mahesh

Ms. Anita Reddy of AVAS (Association for Voluntary Action and Services) endorsing Dr. Ashwin Mahesh

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Changing the space of the poor: Anita Reddy at TEDxMAIS

Changing the space of the poor: Anita Reddy at TEDxMAIS

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1998 and Beyond 


Anita led the evolution of DWARAKA Foundation, an award winning initiative and the pioneers to revive an heritage artform - hand painted Kalamkari, which today fosters and supports rural Kalamkari artisans, women, youth, encouraging revival of the heritage art and also to sustain livelihood models established for empowering women. 


DRIK Foundation, another big milestone established by Anita Reddy, to provide rights based educational programs for the children from the poor communities, empowering them with knowledge and cultural abundance of their communities. This effort went beyond the walls of formal schooling to develop relevant curriculums, enhance thinking process and create young leaders.


strong commitment redefining right based education and developing youth through cultural empowerment, leadership to tap into their own capacity to meet their own challenges within and outside their communities, is the focus of DRIK, an educational institute established for the poor children. 

“By educating them about sustainable practices – skill development, rights based education, art and cultural pride, all our efforts aim to instill confidence, develop communal talent and provide them with greater social economic empowerment.” – she assures.

Anita Reddy hopes to continue to drive women and youth empowerment programs to enable them to make decisions that benefit their communities in the long-term.

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