Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lenin Raghuvanshi at Everpedia

Lenin Raghuvanshi is a human rights advocate and founder of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights. He advocates for the Dalits, a lower caste group fighting for their dignity in India. Lenin is credited with changing the discourse on Dalit Politics in India and bringing into focus an innovative "people centric" approach to reclaim "human dignity" for the deprived sections in a caste ridden Indian society.

Lenin completed his Bachelor degree in Ayurveda, Modern Medicine and Surgery from the State Ayurvedic Medical College, Gurukul Kangari, Haridwar in 1994.

Lenin's father was a die-hard communist and an ideological follower of communist leaders named all his children after great communist leaders. But could not convince Lenin, his son to be a follower of Lenin, the leader. Instead, the son was charmed by the Gandhian believes of his  grandfather, who taught him power of truth, non violence and simple living. He mirrored him the continuing challenges the poor of this country face on a day to day basis post independence. Lenin’s belief that reconciliation not conflict, sharing not accumulation, gender equality not masculinity, secularism not radical interpretation of religion has its root in those inculcated Gandhian principles.  

Lenin's parents were strong believers in their religion. They carry the surname Raghuvanshi, an Indian dynasty. According to Indian mythology Raghuvanshi are lineage of Sun God and Lord Rama and symbolize courtesy, virtue, bravery, generosity. In modern day caste system, Raghuvanshi represent the ruling warrior class.

Lenin's vision on caste, conflict and social change took a concrete shape while working with the bonded labourers in India. He was born into a high caste Hindu family which he describes as "feudal." He noticed that not a single child bonded in the sari or carpet industries came from an upper caste, even though some high-caste families were often just as poor as the lower castes. He realized that caste, not class, was at work. By the end of 1996, Lenin was championing for a major cause that is to fight for the basic rights of lower-caste people. Early experiences taught him that confrontation was essentially dangerous and not the most effective emancipatory tool. Increasingly, Lenin recognized the role of caste in all kinds of social conflicts and therefore 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.

Lenin conceived of a folk school which not only enabled empowerment of the poor, but also endowed them with the ability to access information and justice through the constitutional mechanism of the state. To translate policy into practice, Lenin has begun working on the latest part of his strategy, 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 as pilot projects, which include reactivating defunct primary schools, eradicating bonded labor, ensuring girl child education, and promoting non-formal education. The village committees comprise of at least 50 percent Dalits, and seek to realize greater political representation of Dalits in village councils.

In 1993, Lenin was President of United Nations' Youth Organization (UNYO), UP Chapter. In 1996, he founded the  People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights with Shruti, in association with Dr. Mahendra Pratap (Historian), Vikash Maharaj (Musician), GyanedraPati (poet). Dr. Lenin was severely beaten and physically tortured at the hands of Indian paramilitary force, the CRPF on 17th July, 1996 while participating in a protest demonstration to demand the liberation of bonded child labourers. The case was later taken up by Amnesty International and NHRC.

In 1997, TIME Magazine wrote an article on Dr. Lenin and child labour in India. [42]

In 2001, Dr. Lenin was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship for social entrepreneurship. [43]

In 2004, he founded the Musahar-Nut Adhikar Manch (Forum on Rights of Musahars and Nuts). Musahars and Nuts are the most marginalized untouchable castes in the hunger infested districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Advocacy at national and international fora has succeeded in prioritizing hunger in government expenditure policy. Active mobilization of the poor Dalits has forced various political parties to include the empowerment of Dalits in their electoral manifestos. As a result of PVCHRs' pressure, the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Act was amended to include a clause which directed each local self-governing bodies of the village to allot fund to the amount of Rupees one thousand to mitigate emergency hunger situation.
In 2015, Dr. Lenin was invited at the Global Tolerance Forum in Drammen, Norway where he voiced his strong opinion on the contemporary political situation in India, showed deep concern about increasing hold of fundamentalist and extremists elements in Indian society. [39]

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