Kiran Prakash Waghri

25 Apr, 2024

Kiran Prakash Waghri has been part of the Enlight project since 2019, starting at the age of 15 during her 10th-grade year. She is one of three siblings and hails from the disadvantaged Waghris community. Sadly, Kiran lost her father at the tender age of 5. Her mother faced challenges in making ends meet by selling second-hand clothes, a common occupation within their community.

The Waghri community isn’t solely a nomadic group but is recognized as a de-notified tribal community. During colonial rule, some communities were branded as criminals under the British-enacted Criminal Tribes Act of 1871. Despite the Indian constitution abolishing this act in 1952, members of nomadic communities still endure stigma and are unfairly labeled as “petty thieves.”

While her eldest brother followed her mother’s footstep of selling old clothes, her youngest brother runs a struggling tattoo art business. Like most girls of Waghri community Kiran also stood at a high risk of early marriage after 10th. Kiran however being an extremely determined young girl managed to push through and cleared her Grade 12th Boards in the Year 2022.

Despite her desire to pursue further studies, Kiran’s mother opposed it and insisted that she contribute to the family’s income. Despite extensive counselling by the Ashraya team, Kiran’s mother remained adamant, leading Kiran to eventually drop out for a year.

As a temporary measure, the Ashraya team supported Kiran in securing a job while simultaneously continuing to counsel her mother. After a year, Kiran’s mother consented to her pursuing her studies. With the guidance of Ashraya, Kiran enrolled in a B. Com program at Arihant College in 2023.

Kiran’s performance at college has been outstanding. She regularly attends college, diligently completes her work, and then dedicates time to self-study at home. Kiran is punctual in submitting well-prepared assignments and demonstrates responsibility both in her academic pursuits and her job. She typically attends college on Tuesdays and Fridays, balancing her work commitments on other days.

In Pune city, Enlight supports girl children from two de-notified communities: the Waghris and the Sikhligars. During the British era, the Waghris were branded as a caste of petty thieves. In addition to their traditional roles as hunters, the Waghris engage in various occupations such as trading, hawking, animal breeding, and stonemasonry. They originally hail from Gujarat. The Sikhligars, on the other hand, have a tradition of weapon polishing. They claim descent from the Rajputs who fled from Islamic invading armies and subsequently took up weapon polishing to conceal their identities. The Sikhligars originate from Nanded, Maharashtra, and earn their livelihoods as blacksmiths, specializing in sharpening knives and agricultural tools. Both communities exhibit high levels of patriarchy, low literacy rates, and endure poverty. The Enlight project was launched in 2019 and currently supports 118 girl children from these communities.