Rajasthan's trailblazers for the deprived and the downtrodden Print E-mail
Thursday June 30 2005

Women pioneers from Rajasthan in Nobel prize list

Special Correspondent

Five sisters-in-arms, who struggled and fought on common issues, nominated from Rajasthan

JAIPUR: Five women from Rajasthan, who fought for the deprived and the downtrodden while proving trail blazers in their own chosen areas, find a place in the list of 1000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005. One of them, Chaggi Bai Bhil, is a tribal while another, Ginni Srivastava, who works among tribals of South Rajasthan, is a Canadian by birth.

The list, released simultaneously here and elsewhere in the country and other parts of the world on Wednesday, contains the name of Rajasthan's best known social activist and Magsaysay award winner, Aruna Roy. The other two are the human rights activist, Kavita Srivastava and her media shy elder sister, Komal Srivastava, who works in the field of social equality and rationalism.

Interestingly, all the five chosen women are sisters-in-arms, joining the struggles and common issues from the time of Deorala sati in the late eighties in Rajasthan. In fact Ms.Roy, Ginni, Kavita and Komal made a formidable team during the past two decades fighting oppression and injustice, never resorting to violence -- both physical and verbal.

Both Ginni and Chaggi belong to the same organizations, the Ekal Naari Sangathan and Astha, which the former founded along with her late husband Om Srivastava in Udaipur. Ginni has been the driving force behind the Association of Strong Women Alone (ASWA), a registered society of low income single women.

Releasing the names here, the representatives of "Amaan'' and "Vividha'', the activist groups involved in women's struggles said Aruna Roy's pioneering effort in right to information, started as a local intervention against corruption in Central Rajasthan back in 1994.

"The freedom of information laws in 10 States and at the Centre is the gift of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, the organization to which Ms.Roy belongs,'' Mamta Jaitley of Vividha observed. The selection committee found the way in which Ms.Roy, a member of the National Advisory Committee of the UPA Government, bridged the interests of the middle class and the impoverished as "remarkable''.

Kavita Srivastava, presently the general secretary of Rajasthan People's Union for Civil Liberties, has a two-decade long track record of non-violent struggles to ensure justice to survivors of biases due to gender, class, caste, religion and nationality.

Komal Srivastava, who is associated with the Bharatiya Gyan Vigyan Samiti, has been instrumental in convincing the authorities in Rajasthan on the need to have a people-oriented, democratic approach to literacy.