Lenin Raghuvanshi

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Lenin Raghuvanshi
Lenin Raghuvanshi.jpg
Born May 18, 1970
Varanasi, India
Residence Varanasi
Nationality Indian
Citizenship Indian
Education Bachelor degree in Ayurveda, Modern Medicine and Surgery (1994)
Alma mater State College for Ayurveda and Medicine, Gurukul Kangari, Haridwar
Occupation Social activist
Known for People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)
Home town Varanasi
Title Dr
Religion Buddhist[1]
Spouse(s) Shruti Nagvanshi
Children Kabeer Karunik
Parent(s) Surendra Nath(Father)
Shrimati Savitri Devi(Mother)
Awards Karamveer Award 2012, Human Rights Award of the city of Weimar (2010), Gwangju Human Rights Award (2007), ACHA Peace Star Award
http://www.pvchr.asia/ http://www.pvchr.net/

Lenin Raghuvanshi is a Dalit rights activist and an Ashoka Fellow[2] 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),[4] the ACHA Star Peace award (2008)[5] and the International Human Rights Prize of the city of Weimar (2010).[6]

Personal life[edit]

Lenin Raghuvanshi was born in a higher caste Hindu family, to Surendra Nath and Shrimati Savitri Devi, on May 18, 1970.[7] His grandfather Shanti Kumar Singh, was a Gandhian freedom fighter.[8] 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[9] on 22 February 1992 and has a son, Kabeer Karunik.

Initial years[edit]

From the beginning, Raghuvansi was averse to the caste system. He refers to his higher caste Hindu upbringing as "feudal".[2] 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).[10]

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 Vikash Maharaj, and poet Gyanedra Pati.

On bonded labour and children's right to education[edit]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[13]

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.[14]

Contributions to the Weavers Community[edit]

Raghuvansi 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.[15] Bunkar Dastkar Adhikar Manch is a Varanasi-based outfit, founded by Siddiq Hassan, in 2004, that lobbies for the weaver community.[16] 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.[17]

Bringing together the South Asian countries[edit]

On January 15, 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 built human rights mechanism in SARRC countries where the discourse of human rights is still in its nascent stage.[18]


Raghuvanshi is a 2001 Ashoka Fellow.[2] He was appointed as the state director for the European Union funded National Project on Prevention of Torture in 2006,[19] 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,[20] working further on dealing with torture. He was awarded the Gwangju Human Rights Award in 2007, along with Irom Sharmila.[4] 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.[5] In 2010, he was elected as the president for the Association of Cultural Harmony in Asia, USA.[21] The City Council of Weimar, Germany, chose him for the 2010 International Human Rights award.[6]


  1. ^ Kaveree Bamzai (April 10, 2009). "'The young surge'". India Today. 
  2. ^ a b c Ashoka Foundation (2001). "'Ashoka Fellows'". Ashoka Foundation. 
  3. ^ Pravasi Today (December 11, 2010). "'Lenin receives German award for working for Dalits'". Pravasi Today. 
  4. ^ a b The May 18 Memorial Foundation (2007). "Gwangju Prize for Human Rights". Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. 
  5. ^ a b Asia Peace.org (2008). "'ACHA Awards (Archives)". ACHA. 
  6. ^ a b TNN (June 25, 2010). "'Local activist to get International award'". The Times of India. 
  7. ^ frontlinedefenders.org
  8. ^ Farzand ahmed (April 10, 2009). "'Mobilise and Empower'". India Today. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ TCN Staff Writer (January 15, 2011). "'PVCHR: A warrior against human rights violations'". Two Circles. 
  11. ^ "'International human rights award recognizes Dalit struggle for dignity'". ActionAid. 
  12. ^ "'Basic education is still a poor child'". The Times of India. February 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b "'Threats against Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi and members of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)'". Front Line (NGO). May 21, 2008. 
  14. ^ Nirmala Carvalho (November 6, 2008). "'Education and learning against child exploitation, says Lenin Raghuvanshi'". AsiaNews. 
  15. ^ "'People's Tribunal on Human rights'". The Times of India. November 19, 2009. 
  16. ^ "'Looming extinction : Skilled silk-weavers are feeling the squeeze of competition'". The Economist. January 8, 2009. 
  17. ^ Prashant, Shruti Nagvanshi (June 29, 2006). "'Government Listens to Weavers Concerns'". The South Asian. 
  18. ^ "'South Asian People's declaration". The South Asian. January 27, 2005. 
  19. ^ "FNF Partner conferred with Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2007". Friedrich Naumann Foundation. 
  20. ^ "Testimonial Theory : A Brief ?Intervention". Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims. 
  21. ^ "Asian Peace : Board". Asia Peace.org.