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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 41 New Delhi October 3, 2015

Motilal’s Invaluable Contribution as a Social Activist

Saturday 3 October 2015, by Bharat Dogra

COMMUNICATION

Motilal, a leading social activist of Rajasthan, breathed his last on September 23. Motilal worked till his last moments for the welfare of the Sahariya tribals. Well-educated and coming from a family of well-to-do business persons, Motiji left behind all thoughts of a prosperous career to submerge himself completely in work for the welfare and rights of the Sahariya tribals in the Baran district of Rajasthan.

This work was actually of national importance, as the attention focussed on hunger deaths in the Baran district due to the tireless efforts of Motilal and his colleagues led to several court directives for improving food security. However, due to his self-effacing life-style, not many people outside Rajasthan know about Motilal’s work. Within Rajasthan, however, there was widespread appreciation and admiration of Motilal’s complete integrity and commitment to the cause of the Sahariya tribals and other weaker sections.

Motilal was the Secretary of the ‘Sankalp’ organi-sation which played a leading role in the mobilisation of the Sahariyas, particularly women, for asserting their land and forest rights. As the Director of ‘Doosra Dashak’ in the Baran district, Motilal was also involved closely in improvement of education and constructive activities for teenagers. He was also the Managing Trustee of the Jan Hith Trust. He was closely involved with the Right to Information and Right to Employ-ment Guarantee movements of recent years. For some time he played an active role in taking forward several constructive activities of the Barefoot College.

Motilal’s work on land and forest rights of tribals, their involvement in regeneration of forests, food security and mobilisation of women was very inspiring and has many important lessons for other activists.

Motilal’s closest colleague in all these efforts was Charumitra who died a few years earlier. This had affected him deeply but he worked with Charu’s mother to keep alive her memory and work.

In view of the untimely death of Motilal and Charu, there is a great need for other activists to continue their work and keep alive the hopes of the poorest sections.

Bharat Dogra
C-27, RakshaKunj, Paschim Vihar,
New Delhi-110063