This might come to you as a shock but this slum dweller holds the audience captive with his force of conviction, his indomitable spirit of blowing life in his words and his experience is a testimony of the change that he ushered in with his perseverance. His name is Jockin Arputham and his work for the liberalization of all citizens is commendable. He speaks of how rights are to be same for all citizens, which are many times not acceptable to one group or sometimes got dismissed by the other group.
Post Independence, there was a lot to be done to construct a sovereign and democratic country having equal rights for everyone. So, Jockin Arputham took the responsibility of becoming the voice of those who can’t raise their voice. He is a life savior of several unrecognized faces who laid the foundation of various urban India. He brought the wave of change that he wished to see in the society.
He used to be a resident of Dharavi when he came to Mumbai for better opportunities at the age of 21. There he noticed some unacceptable and deplorable conditions for lower sections of the society. So, he decided to carry out some protests which turned fruitful for the nearby localities. The time flew and he started the Bombay Slum Dwellers Federation in 1975, which later went on to become the National Slum Dwellers Federation.
Today, Arputham is the president of Slum/Shack Dwellers International who fights for the rights of those who are less fortunate in over 33 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Since Independence, India has evolved in all sectors including education, infrastructure, and industrialization. But, none of them have reached the slums of India. The poverty and fight for basic needs are all that poor think about. There is a total of 65 million people for whom all these facilities and amenities are just like luxuries which are out of their reach.
In the words of Arputham, “People think that slum dwellers are a menace; lazy, eating whenever they want, drinking whenever they want, wasting resources. Who brings you your morning tea? Who knows the right dosage of medicine for your children? Your servants. And where do your servants come from? The dirty slum! Their needs are not any different from ours – clean drinking water, toilets and a roof over their heads, without the threat of it being bulldozed the next morning.”
Through his works, speeches and actions, Arputham have clarified that each human being is worth respect and his needs for basic things are much more important than the material luxuries that this world has to offer. With the support of women in our society, he aims for a better life for the slum people.
Arputham has already been honored with various awards, including the Magsaysay Award. And now he is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is truly a man of the masses and wants to continue his work for the welfare of society.