Shruti Nagvanshi: An Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Achievement

We, at Different Truths, congratulate Shruti, a Shining Jewel, for her strong determination, grit and spunk. We are proud of you. A member of our family, she and her husband, Lenin, are our celebrated writers.

An ordinary next door girl, with sparkling eyes, Shruti, has been invited to a lunch by the President of India, on January 22, 2016. She is one the top 100 Women Achievers of India. She is also an invitee at the Republic Day parade this year. Lenin, her social worker husband, profiles the Young Achiever for Different Truths.

My first meeting with Shruti Nagvnshi, in 1991, was fruitful. We married on February 22, the next year (1992). Since her marriage, she has been involved in social work and activism. Henri Tiphane, an eminent Human Rights Defender and founder of Peoples’ Watch, said, “Your simplicity, commitment, hard work and political acumen as a woman human rights defender is what we all admire.”

Shruti was born and brought up in a middle class family as the eldest child. Her father was employed with the Life Insurance Company. She studied up to intermediate (Pre-university studies) at Basant Kanya Vidyalaya, founded by Annie Beasant, of the Theosophical Society. Since her childhood days, Shruti nourished the idea of a just and equitable society and often used to get deeply disturbed by looking at the existing social inequalities and exploitation and especially the widening gap between the rich and the poor in her native city of Varanasi, where poor people were often forced to go to bed without food. Despite family opposition to her ideas, Shruti took up the challenge to work and help the poor and the deprived.

Recently Shruti received a letter from Ms. Vandana Gupta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child development, Government of India, (File No. WW-25/109/2015-WW, dated January 1, 2016), which states, “I, on behalf of the Ministry of Women and Child development, congratulates you on being voted as one of #100women Achievers of India in the category of “Access to Justice : protecting women and their rights”.

It adds, “It is our immense pleasure to inform you of the culmination of the #100women contest, initiated by Ministry of women and Child development in collaboration with facebook to acknowledge and recognise the contribution of women achievers in India. “To felicitate these women achievers, a reception lunch is being hosted by the Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, on 22nd January 2016, from 13:30 Hrs, in the Ceremonial hall, Rastrapati Bhavan, Culture Center, President’ estate, New Delhi. We request your kind presence at this reception lunch.” 

File Picture of Rastrapati Bhavan

File Picture of Rastrapati Bhavan

Profile of her at voting site of #100women describes, “Shruti Nagvanshi is icon for rising of marginalised and rural women in India. Her commitment and continuous twenty years of her work for rights of women has been exemplary. Her work with marginalised communities mainly untouchable caste known as Dalits, women and children in eastern part of UP is hard to replicate.”

Shruti worked very hard and contributed to build activists, issue and People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) without any credit, but now time will come to break culture of silence due to patriarchal society.

PhotoA dedicated social worker, Shruti has been the district general secretary of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement), a national movement against child labour from 1996 to 1997. Shruti is the founder of Savitri Bai Phule Women’s Forum, a social organisation which works for the empowerment of women members to fight against social evils like caste and gender based discrimination and the Hindu conservative patriarchal value system. The organisation draws inspiration from Savitri Ba Phule who was the first Indian woman to become a teacher and founder of the first shelter home for the battered women victims. When her husband died Savitri went against the social traditions by accompanying the dead body and also lighted the pyre. The Forum celebrates 10th March as Indian Women’s Day, on the death anniversary of Savitri Ba Phule.

PVCHR was formed in 1996, in collaboration with famous Hindi poet Gyanendra Pati, internationally well known Sarod maestro Vikash Maharaj, historian Dr. Mahendra Pratap Singh and Human Rights activist and her husband, me.

During the past eleven years Shruti with the help of the organisation has taken up around 3500 cases of discrimination against women, children and Dalit community. Efforts of her organisation have been able to secure interventions by the Government, Commissions and administration (namely local panchayat administration) on almost three hundred cases. Out of these some two hundred cases had positive results. These are the cases taken up personally by her, besides many other cases taken up on behalf of her organisation.

Shruti has been the convenor of Voice of People, state-wide joint alliance of civil society organisations working for the promotion of children rights since October 2013. Shruti has also severed on the District Food and Supply Advisory Committee of Varanasi as a member appointed by the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. In recognition of her contribution, she has been awarded HT Women Appreciation Certificate by the leading Indian daily English newspaper, The Hindustan Times. Shruti has also been honoured by P.L.Punia, chairperson, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for her commendable work for Dalit rights.

Shruti has written many articles in Hindi and English. Her article about corporal punishment of Dalit Mushar children in school of Pindara, Varanasi in India published in and then published on editorial page of National Hindi daily ‘Jansatta’, which became a suo-motto petition and taken up by the High Court of Uttar Pradesh. Intervention of High Court brought the justice and hope for the Dalit children.

Shruti along with Dr. Archana Kaushik of Delhi University wrote an article on plight of weavers of Varanasi, which is translated into French by Ben Deboc.

Her book “Margin to Center” co-authored with Dr. Archana Kaushik published by frontpage publication, London. Ali Mahdjoubi, Head of the office of the Vice-President Claudia Roth MP in the German Bundestag writes in his email, “I congratulate you and the team of PVCHR to this important book. The book will certainly support the work of many activists. The information about the book I have forwarded to the MPs of the Green Group in the German Bundestag who are responsible for the fields of foreign and human rights policies, with the recommendation to make the book in their circles known and to promote it.”

Dr. Mohan Lal Panda, an expert on international relation writes on Facebook in his congratulation message, “It was long overdue.”

File picture of Republic Day's Parade

File picture of Republic Day’s Parade

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