Vigil India Movement
61, Charles Campbell Road, Cox Town, Bangalore, India
Rev. Dr. M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award-2016 awarded to Mr. Lenin Raghuvanshi
All humans are born having dignity and are equal in dignity. Human dignity is inviolable and must be respected and protected in every context. The dignity of the human person is not only a fundamental right in itself, but it is the sum and substance of any right to be protected and respected at all times. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrined this principle in its preamble: ‘recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is foundation of freedom, justice and peace in world’. The ancient sages of India, when they proclaimed the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam – the world as One family, envisioned the worth and value of every human being. However, the shadow of caste discrimination and its stigma follows an individual from birth till death, destroys the dignity and inalienable rights of millions of people in India. Caste discrimination, which results from the hierarchical division of a society placing inherent privileges and restrictions by birth, run contrary to the belief that “all human beings are free and equal in dignity and rights”. Mr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, an Ayurvedic Physician by profession, has dedicated his work over the years for protecting the rights and dignity of thousands of people who are discriminated in the name of caste system.
Through his dedicated work of the rights and dignity of people suffering especially in his area i.e. child labour and bonded labour in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and in many parts of northern India, Lenin Raghuvanshi has been able to initiate a culture of changing the discourse on caste politics and bringing into focus an innovative “people- centric” approach to reclaim human dignity of the deprived sections of a caste –ridden society. Lenin Raghuvanshi’s vision on caste, conflict and social change took a concrete shape while working with bonded labourers in Uttar Pradesh. Through his deep involvement at grassroots level, he realised that instead of tampering with the symptoms, the insensitive caste system needed to be addressed, for which Lenin Raghuvanshi initiated a folk school which not only enabled empowerment of the oppressed, but also endowed them with the ability to have access to justice through legal and constitutional mechanisms of the state. As he has been leading the struggle for the dignity and rights of the vulnerable people and communities, he became a symbol of resistance against mindless caste domination and a crusader protecting the rights and dignity of the marginalised and oppressed in Varanasi.
Lenin Raghuvanshi has also initiated a novel strategic approach in human rights education through Jan Mitra Gaon – People – Friendly Villages aimed at creating local institutions that work to promote basic human rights. He adopted three villages and one slum in Varanasi as pilot projects, which includes reactivating defunct primary schools, eradicating bonded labour system, ensuring girl child education and promoting non – formal education.
Human rights campaigns call for strong conviction, extreme devotion and a deep sense of commitment not only against injustice, but also societal inertia. Lenin Raghuvanshi has displayed all these qualities in abundant measure in successive campaigns launched, advocated and promotes. In recognition of his sterling contribution to the cause of protection and promotion of human rights, the Board of Trustees of Vigil India Movement is pleased to present the M.A THOMAS NATIONAL HUAMN RIGHTS AWARD- 2016 to Mr. Lenin Raghuvanshi and to wish him for the success in his noble endeavours.
Justice P.P Bopanna
Advocate K.Pratap Reddy
Advocate K.Pratap Reddy