You have previously authored a book, Bricks of Blood. Do you see All Indians Matter taking on more avatars in the future? It started as a website, moved to a podcast… any plans for a book?
I don’t know about the book, but definitely events. When I launched, in fact, I knew that I wanted to take it offline as well – conclaves, panel discussions. Though events are a different ballgame altogether because you need funding, logistics, event agencies and all of that. But that’s a little into the future. All Indians Matter has a long way to go before it can branch into that. The lockdown has shown us though, that events can happen even electronically.
Teaching has been a big part of your career and you have mentored journalists even in your journalism years. Do you have any plans to mentor more conscientious citizens to initiate a dialogue similar to All Indians Matter?
Xavier Institute of Communication: Class of 2016
Happily. What I am doing right now is nothing new. It’s what journalism was always about. It’s what I did for 17 years. It’s just that stopped happening in the last six or seven years, which is why I started doing this. If somebody reaches out to me and says we want to tap your mind; I’ll be very happy to do that. As far as the podcasting bit is concerned, I have already done a couple of workshops. Various things are possible in the future I still want to work on the website and the podcast a little bit more before I kind of branch off.
What is your vision for the future of All Indians Matter? What do you want to accomplish with this in the next few years? What do you want it to stand for?
I don’t want to sound extraordinarily grand because I am just a single guy with a small venture. If it results in even a small section of our young people being more enlightened about our national issues, understanding issues, getting vocal about it, questioning, starting debates, having conversations about it, then All Indians Matter would have accomplished its purpose. I want to reiterate that if the media houses were doing this, I wouldn’t have needed to do this at all. I left journalism because I wanted to leave journalism. I had no plans for doing something like this. But maybe someday we’ll hopefully go back to a golden age of media where an effort like All Indians Matter is not required.
Because I happen to know you, I know that there are many facets to you. There’s the brand strategist at Pitchfork. There is a foodie. I love your food posts. I keep going back to them on @brashinthepan. And then of course there is All Indians Matter. There is also the dad who loves running and boxing and your daughter who has been a point of conversation in your posts very often. So just trying to understand – what makes up Ashraf? How are these personalities different? Do they blend into each other, contribute to each other. Some insight into this…
I think you could say fatherhood is the most important thing I will ever do. It doesn’t matter if I become the King of the world tomorrow – it will be the most important function I perform. That said, my focus on fitness has made my mind far more agile and made me far more aware of the world around me. It helps me think better. It helps me think more, be sharper. Collectively, each one of these aspects of my life has actually made me enjoy all the other aspects a lot more. I focus so much on health. I enjoy my cooking a lot more, fatherhood a lot more. I have the energy for All Indians Matter – it keeps me mentally stimulated. I really look forward to the gym, the boxing class. They all fit like pieces of the jigsaw into my life and feed into each other.
I don’t know if it sounds idealistic, but certainly, All Indians Matter was my way of trying to make a better world for my daughter. So when she goes out into this world (she’s almost 18 now) I want this to be a better world, a better country for her and people like her. That’s a huge driving force for me in All Indians Matter.