Ashif Shaikh

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2016


This profile was prepared when Ashif Shaikh was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2016.
The New Idea
Ashif believes that victims of caste discrimination are going to be most effective in fighting against it, because of the power of their first person narrative, the courage and resilience they have built due to generations of marginalisation, and the inherent empathy which they feel with other victims from their community which brings the community together in a strong, unbreakable movement. In order to do this, Ashif is enabling victims to lead the change, by taking them through an internal journey of victimhood to leadership and building four pillars of support around them to facilitate this journey.

Ashif takes victims of caste discrimination, like manual scavengers, bonded labour, Dalit women subjected to gender violence, through an internal journey of empowerment to transform victims to leaders. This starts with victims recognising their own marginalization, taking action to end the atrocities committed against them, and finally taking other victims in their community through a similar process. This forms a spiral of empowerment with more victims transforming to leaders, who empower more victims to become leaders, who take charge of their own lives in order to end their victimisation.

Ashif has created a process through which the community leaders can lead change first within their own lives to stand up against marginalisation, then within their community to support other people and families to fight atrocities against them, and finally in bringing the community together so they can lead the movement for an equal society free to caste hierarchy.

The four pillars of support Ashif has built around the community leaders includes a network of lawyers that provide probono support to those fighting cases against atrocities they have faced, new laws that protect the rights of the Dalits, Sufi saint groups who preach equality and harmony amongst the castes in their performances, and alternate livelihood opportunities to those renouncing inhumane jobs like manual scavenging and bonded labour.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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