from ACHA-Pritam Rohila
date Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 5:50 AM
subject IMP-2008 ACHA Awards
October 1, 2008
2008 ACHA Awards
Dear ACHA Members:
With one no-response, the rest of our Board of Directors has unanimously voted to recognize the following four individuals for this year’s ACHA Peace Star Awards.
1. B. M. Kutty, Karachi, Pakistan
2. Karamat Ali, Karachi, Pakistan
3. Mubashir Mirza, Sadiqabad, Pakistan
4. Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, Varanasi, India
Messrs Kutty and Ali were nominated by Dr. A. H. Nayyar, himself the 2004 recipient of ACHA Star Award. A retired nuclear physicist, he is currently he is a Research Fellow at Pakistan’s Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
Messrs Kutty and Ali have been actively and ably leading peace movement in Pakistan for the last 15 years or so. Also they are highly regarded in India for their peace and harmony work.
Earlier this year, they went to New Delhi to participate in the funeral of Nirmala Deshpande, a highly venerated, Gandhian, peace and harmony leader and former member of Indian Parliament. And they brought with them a portion of Didi Deshpande’s ashes for their respectful and ceremonious immersion in the River Indus.
Mubashir Mirza is a young man in his 20’s. He has been a dedicated peace activist for the last 5 years or so. He works primarily with youth through Centre for Youth Development & Activities (CYDA), which is dedicated to help youth become “aware of the past; present conditions” so that they can “build their own personalities and know their responsibilities in their societies, a role which they can play effectively”.
He has led a few peace delegations to Chandigarh. His attempts to host in Pakistan, peace delegates from Chandigarh, have not materialized so far, for their inability to get Pakistan visas.
Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi , an Ashoka Fellow is being recognized for his pioneering and courageous work to improve the lot of the low-caste and the deprived sections of India’s Hindu and Muslim community. More information about him and his work can be found at www.pvchr.org, the website for his organization, People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR).
On behalf Members and Directors of ACHA, I will personally present the awards to these individuals during my and my wife’s Peace Pilgrimage to India and Pakistan later this year.
For your review and information, I have attached their original nominations with this message.
Pritam K. Rohila, Ph.D.
Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA)
www.asiapeace.org & www.indiapakistanpeace.org
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09.09.08 B.M. Kutty & Karamat Ali.doc
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09.15.08 Mubashir Ahmed Mirza.doc
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09.08.08 Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi.doc
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Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi
Tanweer Ahmed Siddiqui (Advocate)
Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi
3. THE AWARD FOR WHICH THE PERSON IS BEING NOMINATED
ACHA Peace Star Award
4. THE REASONS WHY THE NOMINEE DESERVES THE AWARD
Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi is the symbol of resistance to millions of Dalits fighting for 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 in a caste ridden Indian society. The gamut of Lenin’s activities reflects his personal and ideological span and provides credibility and a sense of completeness to the work he does. His care for details, meticulous planning, diligent patience, and sincere advocacy of the issue of the marginalized, has made millions of his supporters optimistic about a dignified future.
Lenin's views on caste, conflict and social change took shape while he worked with bonded laborers. 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 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.
As a self taught Dalit ideologue, Lenin understood from the beginning that village in India is the cradle of exploitation. 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.
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, making sure girls get education, and promoting non-formal education. The village committees comprise at least 50 percent Dalits, and seek to realize greater political representation of Dalits on village councils. The heads of the village committee and village council, a government representative, and a PVCHR employee will serve as a conflict resolution group and form the People-Friendly Committee. 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.
5. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE NOMINEE'S EDUCATION, WORK AND OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS
Born on 18 May 1970 at Varanasi
Mother’s name: Shrimati Savitri Devi
Married to Shruti Nagvanshi on 22 February 1992; has an 8 year old son, Kabir Karunik
Completed his Bachelor degree in Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery from the State Ayurvedic Medical College, Gurukul Kangari, Haridwar in 1994 with distinction.
1993: President, United Nations’ Youth Organization (UNYO), UP Chapter.
1993: Founded Bachapan Bachao Andolan (Save the Child hood Movement) along with Swami Agnivesh.
1996: Founded People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) along with Shruti, Dr.Mahendra Pratap (Historian),Vikash Maharaj (Musician), Gyanedra Pati (poet) to work on child labour free village.
1998: Organized, coordinated, and participated as Core Marcher in Global March against Child Labour.
1998: Fair Play Campaign against use of child labour in Indian Sporting Goods Industry. The campaign forced FIFA, ICC (International Cricket Council), World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry and Reebok to prohibit use of child labour in producing their goods.
1999: Founded Jan Mitra Nyas, a public charitable trust, for working on governance, and Human Rights in five adopted villages near Varanasi
2001: Awarded the Ashoka Fellowship for social entrepreneurship and change maker from Ashoka: innovators for Public based in Washington, DC
2001: Elected to the Executive Council of Voice of People (VOP, 25000 membership), a state wide people’s alliance for bringing to the fore the politics of marginalized.
2002: Campaigned and mobilized at State and national level for prevention of torture.
2002: Appointed member of District Vigilance committee on Bonded Labour under Bonded Labour abolition Act 1976 by the Governor of UP.
2004: Created Model Village “People Friendly Village” to enable and amplify the voice of the marginalized.
2004: Organized Benaras Convention in order to assert the discourse of politics of marginalized in the national mainstream. The convention attended by thinkers and activists across the nation unanimously declared that the City of Varanasi was the symbol of Shraman Sanskriti (culture of the working class) as opposed to that of the Brahminical Sanskriti (Culture of the feudal class).
2004: Established Bunkar-Dastkar Adhikar Manch (Forum on rights of the weavers and artisans) to give voice to their plight in an organized manner. The forum has membership of 3000 people and has been able to make Planning Commission of India commit Rupees One Thousand crores for their re-habilitation. This body is led by indigenous leaders and is self supporting.
2004: Conceptualized and formed the Varanasi Weavers Trust along with eminent economist and Ashoka fellow from Sri Lanka, Dr. Darin Gunasekara. The trust envisages creation of a democratized mode of production with social control over capital for the weavers. The Planning Commission of India and Government of Uttar Pradesh have taken note of the objective of the trust and are in the process of giving shape to the idea respectively.
2004: Founded the Musahar-Nut Adhikar Manch (Forum on rights of Musahars and Nuts; Musahars and Nuts are the most marginalized untouchable caste) 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 Dalit has forced political parties to include the improvement of Dalit in their electoral manifesto. The liberation from social inhibitions has resulted in creation of Martyr’s domes in village where hunger deaths occurred and has created a pool of indigenous hunger activists among the poor. The District administration of Varanasi has sought Rupees 6.75 crores to fight hunger situation of Musahars in the district. As a result of PVCHR’s pressure the UP Panchayat Act was amended to include a clause which directed each local self Government of village to hold a fund of Rupees one thousand to mitigate emergency hunger situation.
2005: Conceived and convened People’s SAARC at Varanasi. The objective was to bring together the issues of the people of SAARC countries to the forefront and establish a people to people relationship to fight caste, communal, ethnic, and fascist forces in the region. The most important declaration read, “We cherish and uphold the Rule of Law, sovereignty of the people, a system of governance that ensures devolution of power, People' right to self rule and control over resources.” Convention is resulted in South Asian People’s Forum (SAPF) of which Dr. Lenin was elected the coordinator. The core committee comprised of PVCHR (India), INSEC (Nepal), People’s Forum for Human Rights (Bhutan), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, LOKOJ (Bangladesh) and Wiros Lokh Institute (Sri Lanka).This convention triggered off a series of similar convention across the SAARC countries. Two major outcomes of the convention were inclusion of Afghanistan in the SAARC, and in the Dhaka declaration in 2005 SAARC summit inclusion of civil society voice in the decision making process.
2006: Founded Rozagar Haq Abhiyan (Right to work campaign) along with AIM, Parmarth, GSS, Musahar Manch for monitoring implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in UP.
2006: PVCHR work on torture victims resulted in Dr. Lenin being appointed State Director of National Project on Prevention of Torture funded by European Union.
2006: In the context of international advocacy along with AHRC, PVCHR achieved the rare distinction of being reported by the UN special rappoteur on Racism and Xenophobia. In the same year three out of four reported cases from India in the report of representative of Secretary General for Human Rights defenders were from PVCHR.
2007: Drafted along with Faisal Anurag the vision paper for NAFRE Peoples™ Movement, an alliance of representative from 16 states of India. This paper presented a road map for civil society movement drawing from the traditional working class past of India from the perspective of caste.
2007: Established Folk School for Dalit in Belwa
2007: PVCHR and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) along with 210 NGOs across the state conducted the UP Election watch (UPEW). The objective was to sensitize the electors about the governance processes. By providing background information of candidates UPEW facilitated informed choice of the citizens of UP. Dr. Lenin, coordinator of UPEW, successfully ran a media campaign and managed to bring the issue of criminalization of politics to the center stage.
2007: received 2007 Gwangju Human Rights Award from May 18 Foundation of South Korea along with Ms. Sharmila Irom of Manipur
6. ANY OTHER RELEVANT INFORMATION
Dr. Lenin in his carrier has faced several obstacles from state and society :
Â• On 17 July 1996 the Para Military Forces subjected Dr.Lenin to severe beatings with rifle butts while leading a demonstration for rehabilitation of freed bonded dalit and child laborers and land allotment of Gram Sabha in favour of landless dalit of Indrawar village of Varanasi. This case of beating was raised by Amnesty International.
Â• Dr. Lenin’s brother was murdered by his relatives because of his views on caste politics in 1996.
Â• In 1998 state police tried to malign Dr. Lenins™ reputation by a fake encounter at his parental residence. His family was coerced to make statement implicating him in the case. The case was disposed of by NHRC after reviewing the details.
Â• .Dr. Lenin received death threat in pursuance of people™s democratic right at pachayat level in village Belwa of Varanasi in August 2006.
PEOPLE’S COMMENTS ABOUT DR. LENIN.
1. Justice Sukumaran “ Rtd.Judge, High Court of Kerela & Bombay.
India’s hope for the future rests in the selfless services of activists who are informed, involved and idealistic. Earth, Earthly “like the worms, which enrich the land some, are as Churchill put it “glow worms”. They show the way amidst encircling glow. I had the great privilege to spend a few hours with those great missionaries of the new century “ a unique luck; I deem it. Dated 18.2.2002.
2. Justice Zakaria Mohd. Yacoob , Sitting Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa & Chancellor of Durban “ Westville.
PVCHR does wonderful work under very difficult circumstances. We are proud to be associated with you “India & the World need more of such Workers. Good Luck Zak Yacoob & Anu Yacoob. Dated 9.5.2002.
3. Otto Tausig, Austrian Film Actor
On some occasion I am wearing the T-shirt you gave me for the purpose that people should ask me whose face is it showing. Then I tell them in a country far away from our own there are people like Safdar Hashmi & Dr.Lenin who were and who are fighting for things worth fighting for and we too should work for a better world. My thoughts are with you and my best wishes for the success of your work. It’s the same cause you and I are working for. There is hunger, exploitation and disregard of human and child rights all over the world but also a growing understanding that we have to globalize the fight against it.
4. Mr.Vishwanath Singh, Regional Secretary, Vigil India Movement
Dr Lenin is to empower the victims to restore a balance of Power in society between economic and other forces. He is facilitating the participation and increasing the International and National bargaining powers of Poor, of the labor, environmental & other social movements. He protects traditional wisdom & knowledge. Dr.Lenin gives people a sense of their own power. He mobilizes the power that people have in doing so, he teaches the value of united action through real life example, and build the self-confidence of both the organization and individuals in it. He avoids shortcuts that don’t build people’s powers, such as bringing in lawyer to handle the problem, asking friendly politicians to take care of it or turning it over to a Government Agency.
5. Dominique Lapierre (Author-Freedom at Midnight & City of Joy)& social activist
The World needs great voices like those of PVCHR shouting for Human Dignity.
6. Summa Josson, a Film Director of Bombay specializing in Documentary Films on Social issues
India is on the cross - roads. The future of India lies in the hands of people like you. It makes me feel that there is still some hope left
Web linkage about Lenin and PVCHR
cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=234195 - 41k - 30 Apr 2007