Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar Azad featured in TIME magazine’s annual list of 100 “emerging leaders who are shaping the future”.
The 2021 TIME100 Next, released on Wednesday, is an expansion of TIME’s flagship TIME100 franchise of the most influential people in the world and highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future.
“Chandra Shekhar Aazad, 34, is a Dalit—a member of India’s most oppressed caste group. The movement he leads, the Bhim Army, runs schools to help Dalits escape poverty through education. It also practices a distinct brand of assertiveness, sweeping into villages on loud motorbikes to protect victims of caste-based violence and organizing provocative demonstrations against discrimination,” the TIME profile on him says.
TIME also stated that the Aazad and the Bhim army also spearheaded a campaign for justice in the case of the fatal gang-rape of a 19-year old Dalit woman by upper caste Hindu men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras.
The profile also went on to say: “He hopes to turn the reach of the Bhim Army—and his own growing popularity—into wins at the ballot box, and in March 2020 launched a political party. Its first real test comes during elections next year in Uttar Pradesh, where Hindu nationalists are politically dominant.”
“Despite the Bhim Army’s muscular stance, Aazad has also cultivated an aura of charismatic approachability through deft use of social media; even Aazad’s luxuriant mustache—a style seen by some dominant castes as a status symbol—is a form of resistance,” it said.
Thanking to TIME, the vocal Dalit leader said “I’m humbled to be recognised as one among 100 emerging leaders in the world listed TIME .
“Thank You for recognising Bhim Army and our movement for social justice and equality in 2021. It’s a recognition of Bahujans’ struggle for self respect,” he said.
“Everyone on this list is poised to make history. And in fact, many already have,” Dan Macsai, the editorial director of the TIME100, said.