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  • » 05/07/2007, 00.00

    INDIA

    2007 Gwangju Prize goes to Indian social activist

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Lenin Raghuvanshi will receive the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights on 18 May. Just 37, this man has already made a significant contribution to the struggle for respect for the dignity of all marginalized people, especially Dalits.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights has been awarded to Indian Social Activists. Thirty-seven-year-old Lenin Raghuvanshi will receive the Gwangju Prize on 18 May. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said: “It is an honour for me to be the co-recipient of this award with Irom Sharmila, whose commitment to human rights has always inspired me. What’s more, it will be given to me on my birthday.”

    Raghuvanshi continued: “Over the years, I have been very involved in and worried about the situation of marginalized children. In 1993, with Swani Agnivesh, I founded the Bachapan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) and in 1996 the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) was born to reeducate children who were forced to work.”

    Lenin Raghuvanshi has become a symbol for millions of Dalits fighting for their dignity in India. His approach to the struggle constantly puts the person at the centre and urges respect for the human dignity of all people belonging to India’s lowest castes.

    The work of Lenin Raghuvanshi marks a shift in the Indian movement for human rights; he is one of a relatively few activists who insist that caste-based discrimination goes against democratic principles. In Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh – one of the most traditionalist, conservative and segregationist regions in India – Lenin, with a few resources but plenty of confidence and determination, has managed within a short time to bring the problems facing marginalized people to national and international attention.

    In 2004, to give voice to those who are marginalized, the Jan Mitra Gaon’ was born, also known as ‘People-friendly village’. This is a pilot project in which Lenin adopted three villages and a slum, where plans include reopening an elementary school, abolishing forced labour, making education for girls obligatory and spreading non-traditional education. There is no elementary education in vast rural areas but the PVCHR has opened educational centres for children in 45 villages.

    “Thanks to the intervention of the PVCHR before international and national fora,” says Raghuvanshi, “we have managed to put hunger on the agenda of government priorities.”

    Lenin has faced several obstacles from state and society. On 17 July 1996 paramilitary forces subjected him to a severe beating during a demonstration for Dalits and child laborers and for the land allotment of Gram Sabha in favour of landless Dalits. Amnesty International drew attention to this assault.

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    See also

    11/06/2008 INDIA
    Education and learning against child exploitation, says Lenin Raghuvanshi
    On World Day against Child Labour, the Indian activist calls for better schooling for everyone as the only solution to the problem. Some 55 million children live in slave-like conditions, especially among the lowest castes of society.

    10/12/2009 INDIA – HUMAN RIGHTS
    Human rights violated by extremism as well as religious and social discrimination
    For activist Lenin Raghuvanshi, “the human rights situation in India is shameful”. Religious fundamentalism but also “torture by police” and the “collapse of rule of law” are to blame. The country suffers from a “mindset” that hurts the weakest and non-Hindu minorities.

    28/08/2007 INDIA
    War against supermarkets that destroy the economy of the poor
    In West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh the opening of new Reliance Retail supermarkets is met with violence. For many these big stores undermine India’s traditional small-scale economic operators. The large retail company temporarily shuts down its operations to better prepare to re-enter the market. Analyst tells AsiaNews that if the government does not defend the population, India’s economy will be destroyed.

    10/11/2008 CHINA
    China announces “action plan” on human rights
    A group of experts should draft a charter of rights over the next two years to protect human rights. Many experts fear it might just be a propaganda ploy, urge the authorities to take concrete steps to show its good will.

    05/03/2010 INDIA
    Tamil Nadu: police arrests then releases bishops and faithful marching for Christian Dalit rights
    The arrests come on the last day of the “long march,” launched to defend the rights of Christian “outcastes”. Despite the disturbances, a public meeting scheduled for tonight in Chennai is still to go ahead. Catholic priest says arrests show how people involved in “legitimate democratic struggles” are treated.



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