A Vocal Proponent and Activist for Equality
Lenin Raghuvanshi was born on 18 May 1970 in a higher caste Hindu family, to Surendra Nath Singh and Shrimati Savitri Devi. His grandfather Shanti Kumar Singh, was a Gandhian freedom fighter. Lenin gained his bachelor’s degree in Ayurveda, modern medicine and surgery from the State Ayurvedic Medical College, Gurukul Kangari, Haridwar in 1994. He is married to Shruti Nagavanshi who was previously a famous social activist and they have a son, Kabeer Karunik, who is a national-level snooker player. An aversion toward the caste system always prevailed within Lenin and he refers to the Hindu upbringing as ‘feudal’. This sowed the seed of social activism within him and he later became the president of the Uttar Pradesh chapter of the United Nations Youth Organisation at the age of 23 back in 1993.
A realization hit him where he realized casteism prevails in all walks of life. With the Indian Government tackling this issue with its reservation policies and making it perennial, Lenin chose the path of uplifting these people by making their voices heard. He went on and founded the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in 1996, along with his wife, historian Mahendra Pratap, musician Vikash Maharaj and poet Gyanendra Pati. Soon after completing his studies, he came across a lot of corrupt practices and decided to join the BBA organisation founded by Nobel Peace awardee Kailash Satyarthi, and later received facts about how all bonded labour and survivors of slavery came from marginalised castes. This led him to work towards a reconciliation movement against the caste system and patriarchy.
By the end of 1996, Lenin was championing a major cause that was to fight for the basic rights of lower-caste people. Early experiences taught him that confrontation was essentially dangerous and not the most effective emancipatory tool. Increasingly, he recognised the role of caste in all kinds of social conflicts and therefore envisioned a movement that could break the closed, feudal hierarchies of conservative slums and villages by building up local institutions and supporting them with a high profile and active human rights network.
His work marks a shift in the Indian human rights movement, which has been reluctant to address injustices in the name of caste as a fundamental human rights issue. Lenin became one of only a handful of activists to declare that such discrimination goes against democratic principles by promoting inequality. With less economic resources, but rich with confidence and conviction, in a short period, he managed to amplify the voice of the marginalized in national and international fora.
Lenin was deeply engaged in the politics of marginalised people and firmly believes in non-violence. A clear mind, dedication and determination help him carve his path and faces commonly threats and intimidation tactics but, his courage and commitment to a non-violent approach are key factors in tackling these. His wife Shruti and son Kabeer live together happily in a joint family and stays on the move and busy fulfilling his grandfather’s dream who used to emphasise that grassroots politics is the future of the country.
Lenin works to promote inclusion and basic rights no matter how complex it is, as he perceives them to be essential. He is driven by the knowledge that every life has intrinsic value and through championing the inclusion of disenfranchised people across India, he is fighting for the love for his country. He envisions India gaining strength through this remarkable diversity instead of being ripped apart. Ever since his birth, gender inequality troubled him and he became more aware with each passing day. Lenin identifies caste as a deeply hierarchical and oppressive system of social stratification and as the root of multiple social conflicts that also acts as a major barrier to his dream of bringing justice to all.
COVID-19 made Lenin more conscious about his health as he focuses on proper nutrition and boosting immunity. His organisation initiated multi-dimensional support to communities, institutions and NGOs towards eliminating COVID-19 and providing awareness, vaccinations etc. He believes speaking up is a way of resilience for a community for sustainable development at the grassroots level. Healthy human resources and the elimination of barriers for the marginalised are one of the most important ways to strengthen the economy and boost the GDP. The negative conflict burdens the economy and so, positive resolutions and participatory pluralistic democracy lay the foundation for a sustainable economy of any country.