Lenin Raghuvanshi, a Dalit Rights activist and a crusader for human rights has been conferred with M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award 2016 in Bangalore, Karnataka on December 21.
Dr Lenin was unanimously selected by a panel of Jury comprising Akbar Mirza Khaleeli (former Ambassador of India to Iran and other countries, Board of Trustee of VIM), Justice Santosh Hegde ( Former Judge of Supreme Court of India) and Dr Cherian Thomas (Secretary and Trustee of VIM and Director of Ecumenical Christian Centre).
Dr Lenin was born in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on 18 May 1970. Being raised in a higher caste Hindu family, the complexities of caste always bewildered him.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Dr Lenin said that he was influenced by his grandfather Shanti Kumar Singh who was a freedom fighter. His parents Smt Savitri Devi and Shri Surendra Nath inspired him after he realised the grim reality of the Dalit community in India. Having a supportive family brought him close to social activism. He embarked on the journey to focus on the cause of the discrimination.
At the age of 23, he became the president of the United Nations Youth Organization Uttar Pradesh, and this exposure helped him understand the problems of casteism. He worked towards the upliftment of people from lower castes.
Determine to provide a voice to the people; Dr Lenin founded People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in 1996. It is a membership-based human rights movement in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It ensures fundamental rights for marginalised communities in India. He started this alone, and now there are more than 400 people working towards this cause.
He said that during all these years of work he has noticed many changes. Women are voicing their opinions, and inclusive work environments are being created where people from all castes and backgrounds are working together. And this, he feels is a great step forward.
He also said that initially, his team and he would reach out to marginalised communities and victims of violence to help. Now, with the change in the society, people want to raise their voices. They come forward and seek help from the team.
Dr Lenin’s organisation has so far helped 4000 domestic violence victims, rescued around 5300 of people from torture, and freed around 3500 bonded labourers.
He feels that the next twenty years will see a remarkable change in the country, given the rate at which we are improving every day.
Being averse to the idea of the caste system, Dr Lenin is on a quest to build a caste-free India. With his passion for his work, he has become a symbol of nonviolent resistance amongst Dalits fighting for upliftment and dignity.
Dr Lenin’s wife Shruti has always been a pillar of strength for him and works for the same organisation.
Dr Lenin has also received ACHA Star Peace Award from Association for Communal Harmony in Asia USA 2007 and Gwangju Human Rights Award from Foundation of South Korea and International Human Rights Prize of the city of Weimar.