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Lenin Raghuvanshi

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Lenin Raghuvanshi is a Dalit rights activist from India. He is one of the founding members of People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR),[3] which works for the upliftment of the marginalised sections of the society. His work has been recognized with awards like Gwangju Human Rights Award (2007),[5] the ACHA Star Peace award (2008)[6] and the International Human Rights Prize of the city of Weimar (2010).[7]

 Personal life

Lenin Raghuvanshi was born in a higher caste Hindu family, to Surendra Nath and Shrimati Savitri Devi, on 18 May 1970.[8] His grandfather Shanti Kumar Singh, was a Gandhian freedom fighter.[9] He did his bachelor's course in Ayurveda, Modern Medicine and Surgery from the State Ayurvedic Medical College, Gurukul Kangari, Haridwar in 1994. Lenin married Shruti Nagvanshi on 22 February 1992 and has a son, Kabeer Karunik.

 "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."[27][31]

Initial years

From the beginning, Raghuvansi was averse to the caste system. He refers to his higher caste Hindu upbringing as "feudal".[11] This sprung the seed of social activism in him. He became the president of the Uttar Pradesh chapter of United Nations Youth Organisation at the age of 23 (1993).[12]

With his exposure into the mainstream society, he realised that casteism is present in all walks of life. With the Indian Government tackling the issue with its reservation policies and making it perennial, Raghuvansi chose the path of uplifting them by making their voices heard. He founded the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in 1996, along with his wife, Shruti Nagvanshi, historian Mahendra Pratap, musician , and poet Gyanedra Pati.

On bonded labour and children's right to education

In 1999, Raguvanshi founded a community-based organisation, Jan Mitra Nyas (People-friendly Association), which was backed by ActionAid. The movement adopted three villages near Varanasi and an urban slum, with an objective of providing better education to the children there.[13] He was elected in 2001 into the executive council of Voice of People, supported by Child Rights and You (CRY), an organisation active in 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh, which works for the rights of the children.[14]

He was appointed as a member of the District Vigilance Committee on Bonded Labour under Bonded Labour abolition Act 1976 by the Governor of UP in 2002. He filed an FIR (First Information Report) against Rajendar Thripathi, the village head of Belwa in the Badagaon administrative district in his capacity as a member of the Disctict Vigilance Committee. However, Rajendar escaped arrest, and Lenin has been reported to be receiving death threats since then.[15] In revenge, the head of Belwa village filed a case against Raghuvanshi and two PVCHR staff members for "statements conducing to public mischief" and "anti-state activities"; the latter proceeding of case was stayed by High Court.[15]

In 2004, he conceptualised the 'Jan Mitra Gaon' (People-friendly villages) project, under which three villages and an urban slum were adopted with the motives of eradicating child labour, providing education to girls, reintroducing non-traditional education and improving the state of educational institutions.[16]

Contributions to the Weavers Community

Raghuvanshi represented the Bunkar Dastkar Adhikar Manch in the People's Tribunal on Human Rights, chaired by Sayeda Hameed, a member of the Planning Commission of India, briefing on the reportedly poor situation of the Varanasi weavers.[17] Bunkar Dastkar Adhikar Manch is a Varanasi-based outfit, founded by Siddiq Hassan, in 2004, that lobbies for the weaver community.[18] Varanasi Weavers Trust was conceptualised in 2004 by the Sri Lankan economist Darin Gunasekara and Raguvansi, with the objective of easy accessibility of the capital and market to the poor in a democratised way. The demand was then put forth to the Indian Government for the establishment of the trust.[19]

Bringing together the South Asian countries

On 15 January 2005, human rights groups from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, PVCHR (India), INSEC (Nepal), People's Forum for Human Rights (Bhutan), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, LOKOJ (Bangladesh) and Wiros Lokh Institute (Sri Lanka), met with an objective of a united South Asia, working for the common good, in Kathmandu. This convention was named People's SAARC, leading to the formation of a South Asian People's Forum, with Raghuvansi as its coordinator. Afghanistan was later added to this SAARC. This was indeed an excellent effort to build human rights mechanism in SARRC countries where the discourse of human rights is still in its nascent stage.[20]

Social justice through the Neo-Dalit Movement

Raghuvanshi has called for the establishment of a neo-Dalit movement to eliminate the caste system and overthrow feudalism, thereby establishing a society based on equal dignity for all humankind. The neo-Dalit movement – combining Shudras and ati-Shudras (dalits of all kinds) from all regions – would formulate a popular movement against the ‘culture of impunity’ and the existing caste system.[28][29]

Recognition

Raghuvanshi is a 2001 Ashoka Fellow.[11] He was appointed as the state director for the European Union funded National Project on Prevention of Torture in 2006,[21] in recognition of the reports published by PVCHR on torture incidents in the state. He drafted a Testimonial model for India along with Dr. Inger Agger,[22] working further on dealing with torture. He was awarded the Gwangju Human Rights Award in 2007, along with Irom Sharmila.[5] In 2008, he received ACHA Star Peace award from Association for Communal Harmony in Asia USA along with B. M. Kutty, Karamat Ali and Mubashir Mirza from Pakistan.[6] In 2010, he was elected as the president for the Association of Cultural Harmony in Asia, USA.[23] The City Council of Weimar, Germany, chose him for the 2010 International Human Rights award.[7] In 2015, 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.[24]  Dr. Lenin was awarded M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award, 2016 for his contribution in struggle for the rights of marginalized community, particularly the dalits and adivasis.[30] Recognizing his contribution for the promotion and protection of the children's rights, Wockhardt foundation selected him as a Child Rights Activist of the year in a nationwide online voting .[54]

Literary contribution

Lenin frequently contribute articles in local, national and international magazine and online websites. His latest book, Justice, Liberty, Equality: Dalits in Independent India, highlight cases of Dalits atrocities and throw the light on the inability of the administrative system to protect the poor and vulnerable of the Indian society. Book underline failure of Indian human rights system to protect the dignity of Dalits. Lenin, in his high pitch and critical tone, underscores dire need to bring the social change and appeal to bring necessary transformation in the Indian human rights machinery to prevent and redress human rights violations on Dalits and vulnerable people.[25]

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Created: 2016-07-17T23:50:45.525Z
Last Modified: 2017-01-09T19:06:01.890Z