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The Untiring Blue: Journey of Rahul Sonpimple
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The Untiring Blue: Journey of Rahul Sonpimple

rahul bapsa

 

Youth for Self and Social Change, Nagpur

Dear friends,

We, the members of Youth for Self and Social Change (YSSC)1, Nagpur, request you to vote for Rahul Sonpimple, who is contesting for president in JNU student union election 2016. Here, we, the group members would like to extend our support to Rahul as candidate for president and request your support for him in the upcoming elections and make him win as Students’ Union President of JNU. Talking about his contribution and changes which he has brought in our lives–whatever we are now, is because of him and the work he has done for our development. He is a great leader and is always ready to help people for any humanitarian cause. He is one of the founder members of YSSC, which was established in 2007 with 5 Dalit students who during their bachelors from Nagpur university started this students’ support group to help aspiring slum dwelling students. Further, the group became a motivation for other students who suffered from not getting school education, remained as dropouts at different educational levels and those about to leave school and colleges due to poverty and discrimination.

rahul bapsa

 The idea was to bring them back to school and colleges, motivate them to pursue higher education from different universities, make them fluent in languages, prepare them for various entrance exams, prepare them for civil services and other competitive exams. It has also created an environment where students get to known new dimensions of knowledge in pursuance of opening several options before these students. However, it was never easy, since a proper place and infrastructure was not available for their service. Consequently, informal places like an open place in the public park (garden), outside libraries and different viharas (Buddha Vihara) situated at nearby neighbourhood places, were utilised as places for guiding the group with some predetermined thoughts. Its objective was to turn the naive ideas of aspiration into reality, which certainly envisioned positive changes in the students’ lives. After 9 years of group efforts and his hard work most of the students are now studying in various prestigious educational institutions, some of them are in government jobs, NGOs and other institutions. Rahul, for us is an amicable friend, a right guide and true leader.

rahul yssc

Rahul Sonpimple guiding students during a Sunday Activity program at Group YSSC, Nagpur

Here we are sharing some of our experiences with him in our own words:

When I was studying in 12th standard, Rahul told me about YSSC group and invited me for a group activity. In my family I am the only person who is pursuing education, he came to my house and requested my mother to join me to the group, on the first day I was afraid by seeing the students sitting there and speaking in English, but they motivated me to speak in English language. Coming from Marathi medium I did not say anything and come back to my home, when I told Rahul about this he said, it happens with everyone and told me to continue in the group, he told me “Today you are afraid, tomorrow you will roar like a tiger, a girl like you have potential and good personality, take Savitribai and Ambedkar with you, you will reach the highest level”, since that day and now, I am very different, I am studying in TISS Mumbai, pursuing masters programme in women centred practices, speaking in English, preparing to enter into job from next year. I would like to request you to support him, you will find in him a great leader while being helpful to students.Payal Rama, MASW, TISS

I met Rahul in Hislop college, he is one of my senior from the same college, I told him about myself and my future goals, after that he asked me to join the group. Looking at all the group members, studying, discussing and preparing for their exams, I also started participating in group discussions, I was little happy that I am getting a platform where I can practice my academics and learn about personality development. He told me to bring needy students from my slum, many times he also visited my friends in the basti. Along with me more students joined the group. With constant motivation and developing a sense of community brotherhood, he is always an ideal for me. He has developed one project called “School after School” and gave me all the responsibility to handle the group along with other members, now more than 100 students from slum area are taking free coaching, and from my basti all children and teenagers are pursuing their studies. It is his efforts to make SC, ST and OBC students from my area to continue their education and many of them consider Rahul as their ideal”  Manoj Meshram, MASW, TISS, Mumbai

samyak vihar

“After my 12th he told me to take admission in Hislop College, where he asked me to join BA in English medium, I am the only girl child who is pursuing bachelor in all of my basti. Most of my friends left education and got married after 12th. He asked me to join the group, he also told me, we have girls in group and I can also join it where I can learn English and prepare for civil service examination. For girls in group, he insisted gender based workshop and tried to sensitize girls, workshop on women and education where I firstly encountered with the problems faced by women, and the power of education which is key for all success. He is always ready to give opportunity to me, he knew that as girl I need more opportunities, he makes me the anchor of programs organised by groups, gives time to counsel me if I feel low about my aim of pursuing studies and preparation for civil services, today when I go for UPSC exam with all confidence, speak the language of upper class, write and give presentations, he is the hero for me, who always stood behind me like an elder brother. Today when girls from basti see him on television many girls from my basti call me and tell me about him, it is a proud moment for me when he stands for social justice and working for the cause of the oppressed. For a Dalit girl he creates meaning in our lives, I love him for his work and wish he would get anything and everything. He is already a winner for me, I wish you people from JNU to elect him and give your support.Reena Dongre, MASW, TISS, Mumbai

“I was a student of computer application, when the market was only for upper class and upper castes, those who do not have that skill remain poor and backwards. Coming from Adivasi family, there is no awareness about education. Rahul told me either go for UPSC or join academics, that way I can bring change in myself and society. I chose UPSC for my career, he introduced me to Jambhulkar sir who is the head of Political Sciences and also head of Nagpur university SC, ST, OBC and PWD cell, under which he runs free coaching classes for UPSC aspirants. I am preparing for civil services now and building confidence to crack it one day. Rahul has always remained as a source of inspiration and ready to help in any difficult circumstances. He is great guide and supervisor during my preparation, though he is in JNU he frequently calls. The YSSC where I can develop my skills, is a platform where other students get inspired by each other and I hope such platforms must be everywhere in India. Today, when he stands in JNUSU election it is a proud moment for me. I know he will win this election, as he is capable to achieve what is best for society. Please support him for this election”Rajesh Neware, BA in Nagpur university, presently preparing for civil services.

While chasing your dreams in life there is hardly anything going easy but it never derails your aspirations and energy to pursue something different, you are such a crusader who championed for betterment of your fellow brothers though there was/is no relation except humanity. You will win and you ought to, but I think this barely matters since you have already won against all the odds, you won against the ghetto which cease students from their aspirations. We are proud, sharing similar location that explicitly stimulate and mirrors us as a face that can be changedVicky Nandgaye, M.Phil, TISS, Mumbai.

“Rahul needs no introduction, when you know him you will fall in love with him, I know him since my childhood, his hard working and passion for community service has always been there. He usually attended BAMCEF programs when we were in bachelors, going for program by bicycle far from his home. He used to attend the programs, where place of program was 40 km away from his home. You can analyse that only some ambitious person can do that, I wish him all the best and support him for this election, I wish you people also help him.”Rahul Jambhular, M.Phil, HCU

“Rahul Sonpimple was born in the slum area of Nagpur district. He belongs to a very poor and marginalized family. His father was a rickshaw puller who died very early when Rahul was a child, since then the family is headed by his mother who works as a construction worker and meet the needs of the family. Rahul comes from such a social environment of slum where there are lots of problems like alcoholism, daily quarrels between people, murder, rape, suicide and so on. In such an environment studying and completing one’s education is itself a very big challenge. He is so active and brilliant in his education, though his family could not afford for his education due t bad economic condition still he manages to continue his education by his own means.

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I remember one incident where he wanted to buy some books for his graduation, he asked me for money saying he will return it by doing part time work. He is such a hard worker committed to pursue further education, he simultaneously worked for it and somehow completed his graduation. Subsequently he got an admission in TISS, Mumbai for the course M. A. in Dalit and Tribal Social Work where his academic as well as socio-political activism started to sharpen. Wishing all the best to him for Students’ Union Election-2016-17. Nikhil Walde, MASW TISS Mumbai

Friends, feelings expressed in this piece of writing, expressed above, is not a mere romanticisation of a presidential candidate, it is alive in experiences of members with their YSSC brother (Rahul) and you will get many more…

Rahul Sonpimple, is a research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) contesting as Presidential candidate in Students’ Union election-2016 from Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association (BAPSA). This is a long journey having many ups and downs, it is one of the successful examples and inspiring ‘Success story’. He had a dream to pursue higher education from TISS, JNU and other central universities. He even guides other fellow neighbours in his aim to challenge present negative space created by education system in Nagpur and go for further education. Here, in the slum area hardly any person has aspirations like him, with his experience of poverty as father worked as rikshaw puller and mother engaged in construction work as labourer. His father passed away in 2005 survived by his wife and five sons. Hence, the family lost the head of the family and the all burden came on the elder brothers’ shoulder and mother. His elder brother Milind and Suraj are busy in restaurant line where they work as cooks. Milind (Bhau), being associated with Mulnivasi organisation influenced Rahul and his friends in a way to inculcate the Ambedkar’s ideology and that become a turning point. Attending different gatherings and organising programs in settlement area enhanced Rahul’s leadership skills and assisted him to face difficult stages in very early phase. He is the person when he used to deliver his speech in Basti’s programs, colleges, and groups we people literally have to think over his arguments.

However, clarity of thoughts and opinions given by him having citing different examples impel to think critically. Most of the time we people get difficulty in understanding his argument since they happen to be highly critical, analytic and comprehensively developed. Additionally, all members used to think though we members share the same locality having experience pf the same slum culture, yet, how Rahul can think in such a subtle way towards looking at society. Similarly, he is clear with his vision where he concentrates in reading Buddha, Ambedkar, Phule, Periyar, Savitri, Shahu and other social reformers who fought for humanity. It resulted in vibrant arguments from his side which literally silences other people during discussion and debates.

Furthermore, the journey to TISS was never easy for him since his relentless inputs and very idea to pursue higher education invariably ameliorate him while moving ahead. In addition, TISS is a platform for him which sharpened his ideas in analysing the structure of the society and making his own stand consistent with the ideas of Dr. B.R.. Ambedkar. Few people from the locality often demean him and used to ask his mother to engage him some work rather than continue education. However, mother’s and brother’s supported his struggle to confront this negative education system, that hardly compels students like Rahul. And definitely this incredible support further sent a boy from slums of Nagpur to JNU’s presidential candidate.

He has the dream of Annihilation of caste and Brahminisim from society. To fulfil his dream, he is working at grassroot level and in higher education institutions. He has the strength and power to change discourse and bring change in the social environment, it has been our experience to see him in different academic, political and social platforms. His ability to manage things, decision making power, and problem solving of the oppressed and once you know him you will realize the same. We are writing this for JNU students to read and make your decision. His passion of working for betterment and radicalized environment in favour of oppressed and as student community we should choose our leader for change in our environment. He is a true leader and will never let you down. Wish you people make him win in this election.

And hence he faced, he challenged, he strived, he got, he won!!!

He fought against difficult situations since he has experience of different manual work such as Aluminium works, catering, construction work and so on. He championed for many causes that embed seeds of education among slum students.

We are always fond of his highly motivational lines:

Khuli ankhon se to duniya ko koi bhi dekhta hai but hume yaha (finger to forehead) se dekhana chahiye!!

Sapna dekho but band ankh se nahi ankhe kholke dekho!!

Bhalehi tumhare pas do dress ho, phate ho to bhi chalega par usko dhokar silai marker acche se pahno!!

Jai Bheem  Jai Birsa Jai Savitri Jai Phule!

 

1. Youth for Self and Social Change (we call it group-YSSC) is a Nagpur based Non-Government Organisation

registered under Society Registration Act in 2011. But, it was working since 2007 running by students from North

Nagpur.

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