Vighnesh Jha: Rickshaw man of India

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A living opportunity initiator and environment worker turned politician “Vighnesh Jha” is primarily a visionary strategist, who believes in creating equilibrium between ‘Mother Nature’ and ‘Humankind’ with assurance of availability of work for all.

Background:

Impact of ‘Gandhian Vision’ made him think about converting artisans into successful entrepreneurs while he finished his education. Hence, he decided to learn serving through cooperative movement. Mr Jha joined ‘SEWA – Self Employed Women’s Association’ as a volunteer. He got the opportunity of unifying street vendors across ‘North India’, while ‘NASVI – National Alliance of Street Vendors’ came into existence through joint effort of several organizations including ‘SEWA’.

He founded ‘PATH – Proletarians and Tinkers Horde’ in 2000 to generate livelihood and protect ecology. Concern of Environment & Livelihood made him find a bond between the two in ‘Rickshaws’. It has been found in a study that Manual Rickshaws save on average two tons of carbon-dioxide emission in a year and that resulted in the formation of ‘Federation of Rickshaw Pullers of India’ in 2007, later known as ‘Federation of Rickshaw Pullers Association’.

The concern of ‘Rickshaw Pullers’ & their dependents, made him apply many models of financial self-dependence, which later enhanced into the dream of ‘Structured Green Last Mile Public Connectivity’. Experiment with models of ‘Electric Operated Rickshaws’ & creation of ‘Solar Rickshaws’ were part of the mission, which we acknowledged as ‘Structured Green Last Mile Public Connectivity’.

The efforts has been recognized and appreciated by ‘Indian National Congress’ as well besides other Departments & Ministries of India and Global Development Agencies and he got offer of socio-political restructuring of lives of ‘Rickshaw & E-Rickshaw Workers’ with ‘All India Unorganised Workers Congress’ conceptualized & founded by Shri Rahul Gandhi, President, All India Congress Committee. He joined ‘All India Unorganised Workers Congress’ as ‘National Coordinator’ of ‘Rickshaw & E-Rickshaw Workers Division’.

Besides ‘Rickshaw & E-Rickshaw Workers’ he also contributed in the process of bringing change in the lives of ‘Adolescents & Youth’, ‘Farmers’, ‘Street Vendors’, ‘Rag-Pickers’ & ‘Artisans’.

Here is the excerpt of his candid talk with Hyzape:

Mr. Jha, I came to know about you from media reports. They claim that you are a rickshaw man. What did you really do to get this title?

I never thought of getting this title. I don’t know who & when this term started getting used for me, but I remember that since 2009-10, most of the people began to call me by this sobriquet. Probably that was influenced by the study conducted & released by Barkley University researchers on ‘Vimeo’.

Who inspired you to work for invisible community of rickshaw pullers?

Look, I am a Gandhian by approach … though not even 1% as pure as Mahatma Gandhi. I am also a great nature lover; hence environment is in the center of my ponderings, besides other aspects like livelihood for all and social justice.

Mahatma Gandhi said that we must consider using less machinery to create maximum employment, because labour is environment friendly.

What really you do for them & what goal you wanted to achieve?

Indeed a strange practice of getting rickshaws crushed by ‘Municipal Corporation of Delhi’ made me go for research in year 2006. The findings were painful and heart-wrenching. Hence, I decided to raise this issue and fight for their ‘Right to Livelihood’. I recognized their needs & difficulties with the time, which converted my short program in to a goal of life.

The goal, which I desire to achieve, is an important element of sustainable development & ecological safeguard as desired by ‘United Nations’ through ‘Millennium Development Goal’, termed as “Non-Polluting Last Mile Pubic Connectivity” across India.

What is your background?

I hail from a village ‘Koilakh’ from ‘Mithila’, situated in northern part of Bihar; though my father was in transferable job, hence I spent childhood in tribal areas of Jharkhand with my tribal friends.

I came to Delhi after ‘Matriculation’ for further studies, but got the chance to interact with many social reformers & revolutionists, besides innovative people from social & cultural world. In addition to study, I learnt about several other spheres of life from them and inclined towards them, which got intensified after taking admission in ‘Delhi University’.

I joined a movement of ‘Ila R Bhatt’ after completing ‘Export Management’ course and became part of various movements until I founded PATH in year 2000.  

Why did you join politics?

Dear, your question is wrong … please ask me, why I joined formal politics? I am asking this because politics exists everywhere but never get noticed or discussed, hence, those are hidden.

But, formal politics get discussed and criticized mostly, hence, it gets considered as the only platform of performing political actions, which is not really true. I decided to join politics after getting an offer to serve my own community of ‘rickshaw & e-rickshaw workers’ using platform of INC. I immediately agreed because:

I was born & brought-up in a Gandhian culture and inspired by the contribution of INC in ‘Freedom Struggle’ & ‘Structuring of an Independent India’.

Your work get scrutinized, judged, criticized and appreciated, immediately after you join formal politics and hidden attacks on your mission also gets judged by people. Hence, exploitation reduces.

Besides working on ground for them, our team of ‘Federation of Rickshaw Pullers Association’, founded formally in 2012, was working on a goal of getting a ‘National Welfare Board’ of ‘Rickshaw & E-Rickshaw Workers’ constituted in India & a ‘National Policy’ for regulating 15 to 25 million ‘Rickshaw & E-Rickshaw Workers’ in India.

What’s your future plan as a politician? Though the responsibilities increased and pattern has been changed, but there’s no change in my goal.

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