The Activist

Ask Shanker how he squeezes benevolence in his already cluttered 24 hours and he smiles. For him. generosity is not an acquired virtue, it is a way of life. A lesson he learnt from his  parents whom he often saw lending a helping hand to those who needed it the most. “You need to count your blessings and give back to the society.” For that urge to speak for the underdog, stand for truth and to make the world a better place, in 1997 Shanker founded Manavadhikar Samajik Manch (MASM), headquartered in New Delhi with chapters in Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Maharastra.

In the past 10 years, MASM has lived its motto of ‘impartial protection and promotion of human rights in all its forms’ and each day strives to fulfill its vision of ‘the creation of a just and equitable society’. MASM has action-oriented and research-oriented goals; one stressing on medical and legal camps, identification of incidence of human rights violation, networking with similar organizations, while the other focuses on seminars, surveys and research on various subjects.

In this world torn by strife and selfishness, Shanker knows the task is arduous, but when he sets out like a pilgrim in search of truth and justice, he is ready to pick up cudgels for anyone, fight any battle. 

Had it not been for this fortitude, Sashi Bansal would have been just another statistic in the dowry death roster. In the dusty Godhla village in Jharkhand, nobody spared a thought about this 23-year old who was dumped by her husband for not providing a motorcycle. Sashi begged and pleaded but her tears tricked in vain. It was then that MASM intervened, providing Sashi and her in-laws with the much-needed counseling. Thanks to MASM, Sashi’s story had a happily-after ending.

She is not the only one, though. Meet Rinku Bindra who was caught in a web of deceit and treachery by her family who wanted to snatch away not only her property but also her dignity. The case was tricky but MASM pleaded her case with the National Human Rights Commission and National Women’s Commission and the guilty were brought to book.When that smile finally flickered on the Sashi’s distraught face, Shanker did not count it as another milestone. He added peace to his soul. That is his reason to be.
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