YB WEB DESK. Dated: 11/12/2019 11:24:12 AM

Jockin Arputham

Jockin Arputham was born 15 August 1947 in Karnataka, India and moved to Mumbai. He worked for more than 40 years in slums and shanty towns, where he quickly became politicized and established himself as a community leader. In 2014, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside the organisation he helped to found, Slum Dwellers International. When he was eighteen, he moved to Mumbai where he worked as a carpenter and building contractor. Since he had nowhere to live, he slept on the street in Janata Colony, a slum of 70,000 people. He worked at the construction of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). Seeing that he did not need credentials to do so, he began a company to manage workers and organised a school in the slum. The city did not organize a rubbish collection, so he encouraged 3,000 children to bring a bag of garbage to a picnic at the council offices and won a regular rubbish collection service. Between 1971 and 1972, Arputham went to Kolkata to work with refugees escaping war in Bangladesh. Back in Mumbai, when Janata colony was threatened with eviction in the 1970s, he helped organize protests and court cases. He was arrested over 40 times. He also sat outside the Parliament in Delhi for 18 days until the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would see him. She promised they would not be evicted, but in 1976, 12,000 police stormed the slum and evicted all 70,000 people in one night. Everyone was forcibly transferred to the still extant Cheetah Camp slum. When India declared a state of emergency, Arputham was forced to flee the country in 1977 to avoid imprisonment. With the help of the World Council of Churches he went to the Philippines visiting local slum dwellers groups. Every three months he had to leave the country to renew his visa so he went to Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. Arputham was the president of the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) which he founded in the late 1970s. He was also co-founder of Slum Dwellers International (SDI) which networks slum and shack dweller organizations and federations from over thirty countries across the world. The National Slum Dwellers Federation works closely with Mahila Milan, a collective of savings groups formed by homeless women and women living in slums across India and with SPARC, a Mumbai-based NGO. This alliance has supported thousands of the urban poor access better housing and sanitation.


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