This Ahmedabad auto driver gets his daughter a no-religion, no-caste school-leaving certificate

Rajveer fought relentlessly so that his 13-year-old daughter's school paid heed and she received the certificate which left the religion and caste columns blank
Rajveer and his daughter Akanksha
Rajveer and his daughter Akanksha

An autorickshaw driver in Ahmedabad made a strong social statement on Monday as his daughter received a 'secular' school-leaving certificate following a lone battle that he had waged — making innumerable representations and applications to the Ahmedabad district collector and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Rajveer Pravinchandra Upadhyay has also ensured that his daughter Akanksha's certificate does not mention either her caste, religion or community. This is perhaps one of the first instances that a school-leaving certificate obtained in the country does not identify a person based on their caste or creed. 

Rajveer (36), who is a resident of Chandkheda in Ahmedabad fought relentlessly so that his 13-year-old daughter's school paid heed and she received the certificate that left the religion and caste columns blank. "After considering the representations, the school authorities agreed. I have also put an application addressed to the Chief Minister and District Collector stating that we don't want the surname or father's name to be mentioned either. I feel these things come in the way of equality and give rise to discrimination. The same petition has also been pending at the High Court for the past few years. The school application, however, was granted in a matter of two days. The school cooperated immensely," says Rajveer.

Rajveer is currently pursuing his Masters in Clinical Psychology from IGNOU and is an autorickshaw driver in Ahmedabad. He tells us that he has researched and studied a lot before putting forth his arguments while sending out the representations. "According to the SC's judgement in the case of Dr Ramesh Yeshwant vs Shri Prabhakar Kashinath Kunte on December 11, 1995, there is no religion called Hinduism but it is a way of life, which implies that Hindu cannot be written as a religion on any certificate. My mind is troubled by the prevailing racism, regionalism, communalism and all sorts of discrimination in India. This needs to change and we should always remember that animals, plants and other living beings apart from humans do not need any religion, caste to live. So we shouldn't write Hindu under the religion category, which was one of the grounds for my argument," he adds.

Upadhyay also cited the example of a lawyer from the Tamil Nadu's Vellore, identified only as Sneha. Upadhyay stressed in his applications that Sneha had in 2019 persuaded the state's authorities to remove her caste and religion from all her government documents. "As per the Indian Constitution, I have the fundamental right to be secular and I do not need any religion or caste to live my life," he says.

Last year, Rajveer had also filed a plea in the Gujarat High Court in April, seeking to get the status of an atheist and his name changed to 'RV155677820' — which was a combination of two letters from his first name — Rajveer — and his enrolment number mentioned on his school-leaving certificate, taking inspiration from Elon Musk who named his child 'X Æ A-Xii', the meaning of which has different interpretations. That battle is still going on. 

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