Monday, July 13, 2009

Activist takes Birhors to world stage

- 25-year-old Ranchi resident voices tribe issues at rights meet in Hong Kong
SHALINI SABOO
Ranchi, July 12: In recognition of her remarkable work for the underprivileged, Arpan Tulsyan has been invited to talk at one of the most prestigious conferences on human rights.

The Ranchi resident is one of the two delegates from India who is attending the three-week Human Rights Folk School Session-2009, which began on June 28 in Hong Kong. It is being organised by the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Arpan, along with 24 participants from 12 countries of Asia, has been invited to make a presentation on her study on hunger deaths in the Birhor tribe of Jharkhand.

Talking to The Telegraph over phone, the 25-year-old said: “I am extremely happy to share the cause of my people with delegates from across the continent. Starvation is a serious and dreadful issue among the indigent tribes of the state. Discussing this in the light of United Nations pleading for Right to Food to be made a law internationally is of great significance. I am looking forward to enriching myself by learning about similar problems and finding ways to solve them.”

At the Folk School Session, delegates will study the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as the norms and standards applicable to the operation of these covenants.

Arpan, who is the youngest among 25 participants at the conference, is a social researcher who has worked on several major development issues in India.

A former student of the department of masters in social work of Delhi University, Arpan has worked with institutions like Centre for Equity Studies and the Supreme Court Commissioners’ Office in New Delhi. She has conducted researches on starvation deaths in remote regions of India, the government implementation of Bal Sansads to eradicate illiteracy and various issues of women and child care. Apart from having contributed to various national and international publications through essays on social causes, she has also worked under activists like Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander.

The daughter of a businessman at Upper Bazaar area, Arpan studied in Sacred Heart Convent, Daltonganj. “Right from childhood, Arpan had an inclination to take up social causes. At school she was very perturbed by the Naxalite menace in Daltonganj. Even at Welham, Dehradun, from where she completed her Plus Two, she participated in camps pertaining to health, child and human right causes as part of her co-curricular activities. She was determined from the beginning to make a large difference through her small steps,” said Alok, her father.

Arpan, in her two-and-a-half-year career as social researcher, has travelled across the country to remote regions like the Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput area of Orissa, the interiors of Andhra Pradesh and villages of Jharkhand and Bihar. “It is a very good opportunity to develop links with social activists across the entire Southeast Asia. The conference will also help us to gain greater access to the United Nations,” said Arpan.

Delegates from China, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Japan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, South Korea and Philippines are participating in the conference.

Asian Human Rights Commission, a sister organisation of the United Nations, promotes greater awareness and realisation of human rights in Asia. It organises this conference annually to give human rights workers orientation for documentation, lobbying and advocacy. It also provides training for legal and psychological assistance to victims of human rights.

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