Little Achievers
Meet Anhiti Mandal
Writer: Shreya Ghosh
Illustrator: Manas Bhagwat


Anhiti Mandal is a class 12 student who has been using her art to help uplift communities of local artists. She also volunteers her time to teach art at NGO-funded schools. Here’s what Anhiti had to say about her motivation, hobbies and interests, her current work, Tinkle, and more!

Hi Anhiti! Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself. What are your interests?

I like two very different types of things. I like painting, art, and reading—that is my creative side. The other set of things includes technology, computers, machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), computer vision, visual data, etc. In my free time, I like to code. I’ve created my own model that can make artwork based on existing Indian art forms such as Kalamkari, Warli, Tanjore, Madhubani, Pattachitra, etc.

How did your journey with art begin?

Well, my mother has always been interested in art. I had access to cupboards filled with art. Between the ages of three and twelve, I fell in love with the idea of creating something so beautiful. At age seven, I joined art classes. Of course, now I understand the meaning behind paintings. Art has always been influential in my life and I have included parts of my self in my work. I set up an online exhibition, called Utkala, to display my art and I am the Art Director of my school magazine.

What have you learnt in working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs)?

The most important thing I have learnt is that it is very fulfilling to give back and to see the impact it has on society. In the ninth grade, I taught at Lotus Petal Foundation, an NGO based in Gurugram, and spoke to the children there. I felt very lucky for everything I had, and warm inside to be able to help. I feel honoured to be able to use my privilege and passion for art to change something in other people’s lives.

Tell us a bit more about Art and Impact, and what you are currently doing.

At Art and Impact, we have been raising funds for a number of NGOs since 2017. Since the end of 2021, we have also been selling rural Pattachitra art created by artists living in a small village in Odisha, with a population of about 2,000 people. Ever since I went there, I was amazed and inspired and wanted to work with these artists. Now, Art and Impact has surpassed its goal and generated more than 300 days of employment!

Currently, Art and Impact also conducts art classes for grades three through ten in four NGO-funded schools. Soon, we’ll reach six more schools and are still looking for more.

Tell us a bit more about the Traditional Artists series.

When I went to the village where the Pattachitra artists lived, I realized that they have a very elaborate system in their community. There are a few main artists, and each has a set of apprentices. The community also has its own shows and festivals. I was very sad that I had not previously known about them and their rich culture and artwork. Their livelihood, however, had suffered quite a bit during the pandemic. Therefore, we are trying to create a system in which people can source artwork directly from them.

What do you think is the importance of art in a world that is often very focussed on material progress?

I think art has its own material value too. In a way, everything around us is art! We are surrounded by concepts. Without art, I feel there is no real point to anything. Art makes the world beautiful and brings about happiness.

What has kept you motivated as you work towards your goals?

Art comes to me naturally. It is a continuous process of letting my creativity flow. I want it to be a constructive force in my life and impact others too. As for my studies, I am a maths and computer science major.

Have you thought about what you want to do when you grow up? If so, tell us about it.

Since the tenth grade, I have been looking into data science-related careers. My mother works in automation at IBM (International Business Machines Corporation). I have always been enthused by the power of technology. Then by the end of the tenth grade, maths appealed to me. I attended a programme in the eleventh grade which taught me some university-level mathematics. I found this much more interesting than what I was studying in school. I like computer science too, because it is just so fun to code. Both maths and computer science require you to be creative. I’ve been trying to integrate my interests in art and computer science. I have a published paper on Fractal Geometry in Art, for instance.

Who is your favourite Tinkle Toon and why?

So I actually have a story with Suppandi. In 2014, I saw a Suppandi comic at the French airport! I was very amused. Suppandi was a funny Indian character who had made an international impact! Plus, the on-flight entertainment was also a Suppandi TV show! My brother and I watched it. But on the way back, we only found the comic. We really missed the TV show!

I have also been reading Amar Chitra Katha. The books really impacted me. I still remember Akbar and Birbal’s stories!

If you have a message for our readers, let us know!

If you enjoy something, even if it is just a hobby, and even if you feel like it won’t have any value, pursue it. It always has some value, even if not as a career.

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