Thursday, October 23, 2014

PVCHR through photography: Shruti Nagvanshi: a grass root women power

PVCHR through photography: Shruti Nagvanshi: a grass root women power: Shruti Nagvanshi, born on 2nd January 1975 in the city of Varanasi is an Indian social activist committed to promote social justice and d...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Story of Girl power

Monday, October 13, 2014

‘Satyarthi braved bullets, but successfully rescued 23 kids’

VARANASI : "It's a great moment for us that Kailash Satyarthi has been honoured with Nobel Peace Prize," said Lenin Raghuvanshi, one of the founder members of Bachpan Bachao Andolan that came into existence in 1993. Lenin remained associated with BBA till 1999, and later formed People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights ( PVCHR). "We are still associated with Satyarthi and support him in his work," said Lenin, who had taken part in Global March against Child Labour in 1998 along with the Nobel winner Satyarthi. 

The carpet belt of Mirzapur-Bhadohi in eastern UP was his karmabhoomi in the early part of his crusade against child labour and trafficking. Satyarthi worked tirelessly in the carpet belt of Bhadohi and Mirzapur, notorious for exploiting child workers. It was his initiative to start the Rugmark, a label given to carpet makers for guaranteeing that the product is child labour free. 

"I met him just 10 days ago at a programme in New Delhi," said Lenin Raghuvanshi. Describing him (Satyarthi) as a true friend of children, Lenin said that they had worked together in rescue operation of child labourers at various places. "I can't forget a rescue operation in Handia, where we faced gun fire," he said, adding that despite the firing, Satyarthi remained firm and successfully rescued 23 children. He himself led most of the rescue operations. 

"On December 10, 1996 he led a 'Shoshanmedh Yajna' at Dashashwamedh Ghat after rescuing children from Jansa area," said Lenin. "I sat on 71-hour-dharna at the district headquarters in December 1997 for rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers. It was Satyarthi, who ended my fast," he said. 

Shruti Nagvanshi, another former member of the BBA, said that it was the commitment of Satyarthi to a great cause that brought Nobel Peace Prize to him. Shruti was in the state committee of BBA and general secretary at Varanasi. 

Satyarthi's another associate Rajiv Kumar Singh of Dr. Shambhunath Singh Research Foundation also recalled the moments he spent with him. "We were together at many times in raids for the rescue of children. We had to face stiff resistance from the employers during rescue operations," he said. "He was even branded as a foreign agent to destroy the carpet industry. But, today the honour of Nobel Peace Prize ended all the negative things and established the truth. We are proud of him," he said. 

In 1980, Satyarthi and other leaders of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front in New Delhi launched a crusade against bonded labor and child servitude in the carpet industry. The eastern UP in a triangle from Varanasi to Mirzapur and Bhadohi, was the center of the carpet belt, where it was estimated that about 3 lakh underage children were at work, mostly under inhuman conditions. 

Despite the denials of government and industry about bonded child labor in the carpet belt, Satyarthi's crusade, aided by the the Supreme Court, caused the liberation of thousands of children who were discovered in raids by these activists. The activity also generated media attention in Europe, where conditions in the carpet industry of India and Nepal were exposed time and again. 

In UP, Satyarthi set up local offices in Mirzapur, Bhadohi, and Varanasi, upgrading their activities and staff. The Varanasi office coordinated activities for a large number of NGOs related to his BBA and South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude (SACCS) throughout the carpet belt, including Mirzapur, Sondbhadra, Bhadohi, Allahabad, Garhwal, Nagaruttarum, Ghazipur, Robertsganj, Palamau, Saharsa, Khagaria and Madhubabni. These pressures have been partially responsible for state officials taking up the issue of bonded child labor. The district administration of Mirzapur, Varanasi, Bhadohi and Ghazipur ordered surveys of children engaged at carpet looms.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Modi, sweeper for a day for Gandhi and the "Clean India" campaign

Modi, sweeper for a day for Gandhi and the "Clean India" campaign
Nirmala Carvalho
The aim is to improve the sanitary conditions of the Indian people, providing toilets and services to schools and homes. For pro-Dalit activist Raghuvanshi, the campaign is a boost to the fight against the caste system. However, he opposes plans to turn the Ganges River into a fluvial highway for goods.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - This morning in New Delhi cleaners from Valmiki Basti Colony found themselves with an exceptional co-worker, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.
Wielding a broom, the prime minister cleaned one side of the road, inaugurating his much-heralded Clean India campaign (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan).

In a symbolic move, Modi chose the birthday of the Mahatma Gandhi - India's independence leader - to present an ambitious project whose goal is to improve the sanitary conditions of the Indian people.
Modi's action might seem just a big publicity stunt. However, speaking to AsiaNews, Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR), an organisation committed to the defence and promotion of Dalit right, calls today's demonstration a positive step.

"The Clean India campaign," he explains, "is a step towards reconciliation with Gandhi and against the mind-set that still keeps the caste system alive. In this sense, I welcome the prime minister's step."
In the caste system, Dalits -"untouchable" outcaste - take care of most menial and degrading tasks, namely those involving contact with anything that is dirty and "impure".

This ranges from the tanning of hides and skins and animal slaughter to the removal of garbage and animal carcasses.
Even today - in spite of the official abolition of the caste system - streets, latrines and sewers are cleaned by Dalits.
Modi's five-year national campaign kicks off today and on 2 October 2019, the government will take stock of its achievements.

This is a tall order. The first - and most difficult - thing to do will be to get people to stop defecating in the open.

In fact, more than 600 million Indians have no access to privies. To change the situation, Mr Modi has promised to build toilets in every school and provide every home with a one over the next five years. This is expected to cost 620 billion rupees (US$ 10 billion).
The government has earmarked 146 million rupees of its own money for the project, and expects the remaining amount to come from the corporate sector, international development organisations and elsewhere.

However, to build health services will not (and cannot be) the only solution to "clean" India.
In all of the country's cities - including some areas in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata - it is not only easy to see people performing bodily functions outdoor, but they also dump trash everywhere. Indian rivers are virtual open dumps.

For this reason, the campaign calls on people to take an active part in the project, learning to keep the streets clean and acquire a new "consciousness" about health and hygiene.
As part of the cleanliness "battle", Raghuvanshi however has some misgivings about another measure by the central government.

"The authorities presented a plan to transport goods via the Ganges. If this is implemented," he warns, "the government will end up polluting even more the already highly polluted waters of the sacred river".

NEWS FEATURE Cleaning India's river Ganges - an eternal challenge? By Sunrita Sen, dpa

"People are involved and concerned like here in Varanasi, but it is for the government to take concerted and sustained steps," said Lenin Raghuvanshi, a long-time social activist based in the holy city on the Ganges.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Modi-Xi deals to provide a "lesson in democracy"

The director of the People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights views positively the new Beijing-Delhi relationship. Xi Jinping pledged investments worth US$ 20 billion over five years.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights, told AsiaNews that the new chapter in Sino-Indian relations established by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping is a "positive step that can boost pluralism in India and provide China a lesson in democracy."

After Modi got Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pledge loans and investments worth US$ 33 billion, he has now managed to get Xi to offer US$ 20 billion in investment over the next five years.
In addition to marking the end of a US-centred unipolar world, the pledges by the two Far East leaders will help Modi meet the goal of a trillion dollars in investments by 2017 needed to boost the country's growth.

"India needs to develop its infrastructure and create new factories for the global market," Raghuvanshi told AsiaNews. "This opening up will also be good to us," said the human rights activist.

"If the Indian economy gets the support of other foreign countries, this creates a completely different dynamic within the country and promotes our democracy's pluralism, avoiding the danger that certain forces, especially the most radical ones, might prevail over others."

Crisis of democracy and the Caste System in India: Lenin Raghuvanshi