Zenji Nio - Standing up for Dalits & Untouchables
Babasaheb Ambedkar is the greatest champion Dalits have ever had. He said his supporters would "sacrifice everything" to use Buddhism to emancipate and empower Dalits -- and liberate them from the caste system. A great admirer of Babasaheb, Rev. Zenji Nio is the only India-connected Buddhist philanthropist to represent Buddhism at major events on the world stage, and was hailed by Times of India as "an eminent international thinker", by Hitavada as "a world-renowned Buddhist expert who travels the world promoting peace -- when he speaks, the world listens" and by a United Nations report as "a major figure in the Buddhist world". Having lectured alongside 14 major university professors, 3 Royal families, 10 Cabinet Ministers, 8 Senior Diplomats, 5 Padma Bhushan & Padma Shri Award-winners and invited to meet with 4 Prime Ministers & 2 Nobel Laureates, Nio also became the only Westerner to be given the highest honour of speaking at Deekshabhumi in Nagpur -- before millions of Dalits (Bahujans) at the sacred spot where Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism -- a seminal moment in the history of India and the cause of the Untouchables. Rev. Zenji Nio has also represented the World Buddhist Community at major forums and Official Govt. events in the US, Canada, Japan, India, Israel and worldwide -- and is unique in having lectured on Buddhism in every single Buddhist nation before every Buddhist demographic. Nio's lectures on Babasaheb Ambedkar at Nagpur University were called the "best lectures on the subject the university ever heard" by the esteemed faculty that presented him with a Special Award and Nio was also the keynote speaker on Ambedkar at the Times of India Conclave with Harvard University and Ambedkar International Mission Conference. Despite his busy schedule in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Canada and the US, Nio personally interacts with Ambedakarites of all backgrounds -- thereby having his finger on the pulse of the movement. When Rohith Vemula died, Rev. Zenji Nio conducted a special prayer service for him with his grieving mother in Nagpur, and has personally met with the top Ambedkarite influencers including the leader of the Bahujan movement - Japanese priest Bhante Sasai who admired Nio's expertise in Japanese Buddhism (as Nio has trained in many ancient temples of Japan from Kyoto to Koya-san).
Inspired by Ambedkar, Zenji Nio is also a fearless champion for human rights. In association with world-famous organizations linked to the great Nazi-Hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Nio organized and led landmark projects against Antisemitism - and was the first to involve an International Consortium of Multifaith leaders for the cause at both a National Conclave - as well as the 1st International Interfaith Commemoration of the Holocaust. Nio has also championed the marginalized -- and lent his support to the First Nations, Muslim & LGBTQ+ Communities as well as People with Disabilities (Zenji played a key role in getting Indian TV to broadcast the Paralympics which greatly boosted the confidence and success of Paralympic Athletes). In addition, Zenji was the first to give the issue of Kashmiri refugees a mainstream platform in North America -- and has raised millions for Indian charities -- from cleaning the environment to rural education -- never asking for even 1 dollar in return for his own Foundation.
While India's image is being dissected on the world stage, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/opinion/twitter-india-caste-trolls.html , Nio is the only Buddhist well known to many Hindu leaders and influencers and so is trying to help foster better communication and compassion in India amongst all castes and communities. While many Hindu leaders are prepared to have good-faith discussions on combating Untouchability, unfortunately Hindutva troll armies and "trads" continue to attack and slander anyone who stands against the caste system, and advocates for the human rights and dignity of Dalits. Such extremists taunt Dalits for being poor -- and also mock and cyber-bully them to the point of their committing suicide. But Zenji Nio refuses to look the other way as he is inspired by such Lions among Men as Babasaheb Ambedkar and Simon Wiesenthal. Every major newspaper in the world has been profiling the plight of Dalits -- and some caste supremacists are determined to slander anyone who challenges the 2000 year old social hierarchy. But Nio is blessed with the resources to stand up for the world's most oppressed peoples and face any online animus with a forgiving heart and a determined mind. Furthermore, Nio's access to many major Hindu influencers uniquely positions him to help bridge the gaping divide between the Brahmins and the Dalits and bring diverse voices from across the ideological spectrum together in the spirit of Bharatiyatva. It must be noted that all Hindus must not be judged by the bigotry of caste supremacists and therefore the intention is NOT to demonize Hindus but instead to confront the issue of caste supremacy and untouchability - both outlawed by the Indian Government -- but widely practiced in almost all corners of the Indian Diaspora.
of caste oppression.