On 9 March 2016, SDI President Jockin Arputham was awarded VIT Person of the Year by VIT University Business School (India). The below excerpts are taken from a piece featured in The Weekend Leader about this prestigious award.
He started off with his trademark declaration, “I am a slum dweller,” and for the next 20 minutes went on to narrate his story, of how he landed in Mumbai as a teenager and went on to emerge as an activist who fought for the rights for the urban poor transcending national borders.
The founder of National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF), and president of Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Jockin Arputham, 68, was speaking at a function held at VIT University, Vellore, Wednesday after receiving The Weekend Leader – VIT Person of the Year (2015) Award.
Seeking to motivate the students to think about improving the lot of the poor living in the country, he recalled his first activism in Mumbai when he led 3,000 children from a slum and dumped the garbage each of them was carrying at the Municipal office.
When the police came looking for him, he told the cops that since the Municipality had failed to collect the garbage from their colony, they resorted to this action. From that day on, the Municipality started to collect the garbage from their settlement and Jockin emerged as a leader.
“Today I work in 37 countries. I am not (just) a slum dweller, but I am a flying slum dweller. Morning I am in Mumbai, next morning in Nairobi, and (for) dinner (I am) in America,” he said.
Dr. Prateep Philip, ADGP, Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Tamil Nadu, who pioneered the Friends of Police movement in the state during the 1990s presented the Person of the Year award to Jockin and urged the youth to excel in their chosen fields.
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