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Atma-Nirbhar (self-reliant) India - J&K's Anil Kotwal shows the way

by Sagar Shah - 01/06/2020

The lockdown has proved to be difficult period for everyone across the country. However, some people have made the best use of this time to not just be creative but also help people around them. One such story is of Mr. Anil Kotwal who is a chess lover, a chess dad and a government employee in Jammu Kashmir. Father of Arushi Kotwal, a talented youngster of Indian chess, Anil is very closely attached to the game of chess. So what did he do? He came up with an idea to build his own chess board, which is extremely artistic, sturdy and long lasting. Following the Prime Minister's Aatma Nirbhar (self reliant) slogan, Kotwal managed to come up with something special.

17-year-old Arushi Kotwal is the first Woman Candidate Master (WCM) from the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In her chess journey she has always faced difficult situations as she hails from a place where chess is not yet a very popular sport. Slowly and steadily the interest in chess as a sport in Jammu and Kashmir is growing and Arushi along with his father Anil are few of the people at the forefront of this change. Anil Kotwal is the first FIDE Arbiter (FA) from Jammu and Kashmir. He is also a Development Instructor (DI) and has three International Arbiter (IA) norms.

Arushi with her father Anil Kotwal
Arushi Kotwal speaks about how tough it has been for her to pursue chess professionally

But this article isn't about Arushi! It is about her father Anil, who is making the best use of the lockdown period to not only indulge in something creative but also helping people around him.

Anil Kotwal busy making masks for hundreds of people around him

Speaking to ChessBase India, Anil said, "Amidst the Coronavirus lockdown, I was checking social media to know more about this pandemic, I saw many people are helping those in need. I thought that I should also contribute in some way. So I decided to make masks. But the cloth was not available as the market was closed. I asked my wife what ever the pieces of clothes you have in the house, give it to me. So I personally made around about 150 to 200 masks as seen in the pictures above and it took nearly one week to make them. After that I distributed them on the road side to whosoever was passing by and some to labour class living near by."

After the masks, it was now time to make something related to chess from scratch

"During one of the addresses by the Prime Minister to the Nation, he talked about "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" (self-reliant India). It just struck my mind that I should do something different. Aatmanirbhar Bharat or self reliant India slogan of our PM really inspired me and I decided to make a chess board on my own. Using the material already lying in my house I was carefully able to come up with something special."

All the material used to make the chess board was collected from his home

The final piece of art

The board was set up with artisitc legs!

"As anything related to chess is very close to my heart, I really enjoyed making this chess board. You too can make one at home. Here are the ingredients you need: Take some Plywood, Mica, Fevicol, nails and Devdar wood. You will need steel legs and black and white paint. It took me three days to build this chess board. I have hope that it will last for more than 100 years. If made in bulk it may cost not more than Rs.1000. I don't think you can get such a strong and cheap board anywhere in the world. I am planning to visit my parent's home which is 250 kilometres away from Jammu. I will take with me 500 masks to be distributed there to the poor and needy and on my way back I intend to bring some wood from there. I will then try to build more chess boards."

Work is worship! What a beautiful chess board by Anil Kotwal.

If you liked Anil Kotwal's chess board, then please let us know in the comments section. If you want one of these boards made for yourself then please write to us at and we will forward your request to Anil.

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