With nine arrests under her belt, Nisha Anand, director of development and communications for the Ruckus Society, certainly qualifies as a hell-raiser, but she’s also somebody’s daughter.
“My father is very conservative, yet he still has pride in what I do and the principles I stand for,” Anand says. “He’s seen the images from the protests on television and he knows what’s happening. He understands that I am fighting for something I believe in. He just wishes that it was somebody else’s daughter out there on the streets.”
Anand, 24, earned a degree in international peace and conflict resolution at American University in Washington, D.C. Raised in Atlanta by Indian-immigrant parents, Anand has spent much of her life focused on righting the wrongs she sees as endemic in a society increasingly ruled by “soulless corporate giants.” In 1998, she made a name for herself when, along with a group of activists from the Free Burma Coalition, she was arrested, tried, and sentenced to five years hard labor by the military dictatorship of Burma. Anand averted prison when she was deported from the country.
The Ruckus Society, which burst onto the international scene during the 1999 Seattle protests, conducts training camps for anti–corporate globalization activists. More than 3,000 people have been trained at Ruckus camps. Ruckus, as the group’s director John Sellers defines it in New Left Review, “is not an acronym, it doesn’t stand for anything. It just announces what we’re about: strategically, nonviolently raisin’ hell, because we don’t like what’s happening to the planet.” He continues: “We like to think of ourselves, if you will, as a volunteer fire department for the movement.”
For many anti-globalization activists, recent protests have begun to feel more like a brawl than like nonviolent political action, Anand says, because of severe action taken by police and the judiciary. “It’s brutal out there,” she says, and then quickly adds: “But the brutality that protesters see on the street is by far the least of it. I’m worried about other people, about South Asians like myself who are caught up in detention centers, about the folks in Bolivia who have to pay for their water. The list goes on. What really makes me passionate is what’s happening to my sisters and brothers here and around the world. That’s what keeps all of us committed to our work.”