Urvashi Butalia is a well-known and highly regarded essayist who writes for both national and international newspapers and magazines in India and abroad. In 2003 she set up Zubaan (tongue, voice, language), an imprint of Kali which is today the leading publisher of women’s writing in India. Zubaan publishes works by women from many of India’s 22 languages, translating them into English and Hindi. Zubaan is unique in the Indian publishing landscape for being Independent, political, and completely committed to the cause of women. In its Young Zubaan series Zubaan has pioneered the publishing of books for young people on subjects that still remain difficult to address in India, such as alternative families, death, fundamentalism, disability and more.
Although not directly involved in politics, Urvashi Butalia is well-known throughout the country for her advocacy for the rights of minorities and for urging India and Pakistan to deal with the trauma of their violent pasts and espouse the road to peace. Her book of oral histories of the Partition of India in 1947 The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India is considered the most important work in South Asian history in the past two decades.
She is the recipient of several national and international awards, including one of India’s highest civilian honours, the Padma Shri, in 2011. She was awarded the Goethe Medaille in 2017 by the Goethe-Institut and in 2002 she was made Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres by the French Republic.