Friends and acquaintances of Father Stan Swamy have on his birth anniversary launched a fellowship for rights defenders like him and individuals involved in social work.
The fellowship, under which a monthly stipend of Rs 15,000 will be paid for a year, was launched on Wednesday at Bagaicha, a social research and action centre founded by the Jesuit priest at Namkum near Ranchi.
“Most of us are aware of Stan Swamy’s work and contribution to defending human rights, especially the Adivasis’ right to jal, jungle aur zameen (water, forest and land). We, Stan’s friends, have initiated a fellowship in his name to keep his memory alive and to continue his work to defend human rights,” said Bagaicha director P.M. Tony.
Fr Stan, who worked for tribal rights, had been accused by the NIA of conspiring with Maoists to overthrow the Indian government. The Parkinson’s patient was arrested in October 2020. He died in custody at a hospital in July 2021 after suffering a cardiac arrest while waiting for the trial to begin.
“The Stan Swamy Fellowship for human rights defenders aims to support young women and men in rural India who have been trying to do some good work without any institutional support. There is a special focus on work related to defending and promoting the rights of historically and socio-economically marginalised societies,” Tony said, referring to work on defending the rights of undertrials and unjustly displaced people, promoting communal harmony and strengthening traditional local self-governance systems in predominantly Adivasi areas.
“The monthly fellowship of Rs 15,000 (including an allowance for local travel and other-related costs) will normally be for a period of (up to) one year, renewable only in special circumstances. Priority will be given to applicants from disadvantaged groups including women, Dalits, Adivasis and minority communities of Jharkhand and those living in the Fifth Schedule areas of neighbouring central-eastern states. The age limit for the fellowship applicants will be between 20 and 40 years,” Tony said.
“One can apply with an updated CV and a short write-up to firstname.lastname@example.org. The write-up can be in English, Hindi or any other Indian language. The last date for receiving applications will be May 10, 2023,” said a member of the screening committee
We have sought financial support from friends and acquaintances of Fr Stan for the fellowship in the bank account of Bagaicha, Namkum branch,” Tony said.
About 70 friends of Fr Stan gathered at Bagaicha on Wednesday evening to “cherish his memories and work and be energised and inspired by his life and efforts towards creating a more just and democratic society”. They pledged to “continue to fight for justice, equality and fraternity, drawing inspiration from Fr Stan”