Renowned Indian social and political activists to visit UCLA

Renowned Indian social and political activists to visit UCLA

Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey to discuss "The Idea of India" on Sept. 22

Aruna Roy, named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world in 2011, and Nikhil Dey, a founding member of Mazdoor Kishan Shakti Sangthan (Organization for the Empowerment of Workers and Peasants), will visit UCLA on Sept. 22 to discuss the “The Idea of India” during a free public forum to be held at the Broad Art Center, Room 2160E, at 3 p.m.

The talk is sponsored by the UCLA Center for India and South Asia and the India Friends Association. Those planning to attend are encouraged to RSVP.

“It is a great privilege to have Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey come to UCLA to present their ideas for a better India,” says Professor Akhil Gupta, director of the Center for India and South Asia. “They have collectively been responsible for leading some of the most innovative programs to improve the lives of poor people and to reform the bureaucracy. Their work with the Right to Information movement has resulted in big changes in how the Indian state deals with ordinary citizens. Any person interested in the empowerment of ordinary citizens through democratic processes should come to hear these inspiring leaders.”

Roy is best known for her efforts to advocate for the national Rights to Information (RTI) Act in India, a law that provides India’s poor with grounding to speak up for their rights and to hold public servants and government officials accountable to the public. Since the law’s passing in 1995, RTI activists have exposed a variety of corrupt acts, including land scams, bank embezzlement and the misuse of public funds meant for the poor.

Roy worked in the Indian Administrative Service from 1968 to 1975 before devoting her time to social work and social reform. She joined the Social Work and Research Centre in Tilonia, Rajasthan, which was set up by her husband Sanjit ‘Bunker’ Roy, where she worked until 1983. Four years later, she co-founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, an organization for the empowerment of workers and peasants. In 2000, she was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. She is currently a member of the Government’s National Advisory Council, where she has played a key role in incorporating strong citizens’ entitlements.

Nikhil Dey is an Indian social activist, who works for the Mazdoor Kishan Shakti Sangthan, Suchna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan and the National Campaign for People's Right to Information. In addition, he has been involved with Roy’s Right to Information movement, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Lokpal Bill and Right to Food, and other human rights organizations.

Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012