Namala Paul Divakar joined the MSSW in his early twenties with a mission to work with the oppressed communities. Son of a CSI Bishop, Paul was fully aware of the inequalities in our society. Today after nearly four decades, Paul is a well known advocate and activist of Dalit Rights.
More than 250 million Indians are Dalits. Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, architect of the Indian Constitution, guaranteed Fundamental Rights to all Indians in the Constitution. But the inhumanity to Dalits perpetuated by the other majority communities with the Indian state remaining a passive observer continues unabated
Paul ,in the early years after his MA/SW, worked with an INGO on the humanitarian concerns of the refugees of the Eritrean War in Somalia. He then worked with the indigenous communities in West Papua. It was here he felt the urge to return to India to work with his own community of DALITS..
Paul and his classmate Annie Panicker were in love during the college days itself, which had a happy ending in marriage with some resistance as it was an alliance between the ultra conservative Syrian Christian and the Dalit Christian. Annie and Paul are a formidable team in the struggle against atrocities against Dalits. Annie is now Director of the Delhi-based Centre for Social Equity. Paul and Annie were together at Prajwala, an organisation to unionise Dalit agricultural workers in Andhra Pradesh.from 1985 to 1991. In 1998,Paul co-founded .the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) of which he was the National Convenor till 2008 from its inception. NCDHR was awarded the prestigious RAFTO Human Rights Prize in 2007 in Norway. Paul has been active in setting up Dalit organisations, networking, advocacy, and campaigning at the grassroots, regional, national and global levels. A landmark achievement of Paul was the presentation of a memorandum to the Prime Minister of the previous government with 2.5 million signature from Dalit men and women. Paul led the Indian Dalit team to the United Nations Conference Against Racism (WRAS) in 2001. Paul also addressed the heads of states at the WRAS.
Paul was a member of the Steering Committee constituted by the government of India to formulate the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans.He has been a member of the National Monitoring Committee for the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes headed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
It is impossible to summarise the many sided contributions of Paul to secure the human rights and dignity of the millions of DALITS in the Indian society and polity in a limited number of paragraphs. The struggle in which he has been engaged will be long , intense and protracted . At 58 ,Paul is young and the Indian nation expects great results from him and his fellow activists for a future society free of caste-based inequality and injustice.