Dalit Politics and PVCHR
Prashant Bhagat 30/7/2008 5:46:13 PM(IST)
Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi is an icon in Uttar Pradesh province of India among the dalit community and the victims of caste based discrimination, torture and other types of exploitations. Lenin is convener of Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR). PVCHR is founded in 1996 with the objective of making child labour free villages. Lenin learned by working from the beginning that, structure of village in India is the ring of exploitation. His views on caste based exploitation, discrimination and social change took shape while he worked with child laborers and bonded laborers. He realized that caste, not class, was at work. By the end of 1996, Lenin was championing the rights of lower-caste people. Early experiences taught him that confrontation was dangerous and not the most effective method. Increasingly, Lenin recognized caste in all kinds of social conflict and envisioned a movement that could break the closed, feudal hierarchies of conservative slums and villages by building up local institutions and supporting them with a high profile and active human rights network.
Instead of tampering with the symptoms, ‘caste’ needed to be tackled by both its horns. On the one hand he created a democratized structure for the ‘voiceless’ to enable them access to the constitutional guarantees of modern India and on the other, his innovative advocacy forced the ‘state’ to sensitize its mechanisms to deliver social justice in a manner where Justice is not only done but perceived to be done.
Ensuring implementation of policy into practice regarding this Lenin has initiated Jan Mitra Gaon, or the People-Friendly Village. These villages have durable local institutions that work to promote basic human rights in the face of continuous discrimination. Lenin has adopted three villages and one slum initially, which include reactivating defunct primary schools, eliminating bonded labor, promoting girls to get education. The approach of the organization is two-fold: to have a strong grassroots organization to work for democratic rights of those in marginalized communities and second, to create the structure and dynamics to receive the assistance of national and international institutions.
Lenin''s work marks a shift in the Indian human rights movement, which has been reluctant to address injustices in the name of caste as a fundamental human rights issue. He is one of only a handful of activists to declare that such discrimination goes against democratic principles by promoting inequality. By working from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh–one of the most traditional, conservative, and segregated regions in India–Lenin demonstrates his resolve.
With meager resources, but rich with confidence and conviction, Lenin in a short period of time has managed to amplify the voice of the marginalized in national and international fora through “Peoples SAARC”, rehabilitation and resettlement of weavers of Varanasi; Benaras Convention; UP Assembly Election Watch; prevention of torture; voice against hunger and many such activities. Recognition by the international community of Dr Lenin’s work is indeed the recognition for the millions whose hopes and aspirations rest on his slender shoulders.
Friday, December 19, 2008