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“Enabling Empowerment: A Decade’s Journey”(10th Annual Conference on 4th and 5th March 2016)

1st Day: 4th March

The activists, members and leaders of Women Collectives, invitees, personnel of print and electronic media gathered at the Venue, SSS Kalyana Mandapam by 10.00 a.m of 4th March 2016. About 1000 members of Women collectives from the two states covering 12 districts were assembled.There was a festive mood prevailing at the venue.

The cultural team took over the stage and sung songs relevant to the occasion, which reverberated the hall and inspired the gathering. The songs were so selected as to convey Ambedkar ideology and the issues faced by dalit women. The cultural team also inspired the audience with slogans of ‘Jai Bheem’and other relevant slogans of dalit women struggle.

GDV Prakash National Program Manager, announced that the proceedings commence

announced that the proceedings commence first with hoisting of DSS Flag and he invited Sri.P.S.N. Murthy, I.A.S. Amidst slogans by the entire crowd, Sri. P.S.N. Murthy formally inaugurated the meeting by hoisting the DSS flag. Then the Program Manager invited the Convener of DSS to preside over the meeting and invited the Chief Guest and other Guests of Honour on to the dais one by one who were applauded by the gathering and each one of the dignitaries was honoured with a bouquet as a token of love and gratitude

Presidential Remarks of Jhansi Geddam National Convener:

In her introductory speech, she presented a conspectus of a decade’s movement of dalit women rights by DSS and how it could traverse various hurdles.The narration outlined the conceptual, strategic and programmatic aspects of decade’s journey in enabling the

empowerment of dalit women. She narrated briefly, how the organization took off a decade ago and how DSS organized and consolidated dalit women in 2400 villages into active groups of women collectives. She outlined how DSS, which initially concentrated exclusively on atrocities committed on dalit women and how in course of time took up the task of mainstreaming the dalit girl child by addressing the issues of education, gender sensitization and mainstreaming the girl children as potential leaders. She touched upon how, DSS monitored Anganwadis, Social Welfare Schools and hostels, towards realizing this objective. She highlighted the committed, qualitative and concentrated work of DSS in addressing huge number of rights and other issues of dalit women in the decade that went by. She highlighted how, in the arduous journey of a decade, DSS scaled many heights and is now strategically intervening in empowering the dalit women by facilitating them to grow as entrepreneurs. She explained how the dalit women are being enlightened about the SCSP/TSP Act and the alliances with concerned organizations like TATA Projects, DICCI facilitate the programme of dalit women entrepreneurship.

Sri. Anand Anil Kumar, representative of Tata Projectsexplained that Tata was always in the forefront in implementing affirmative action and every managing director of Tata Company

Company has to send reports of implementing the 4 pillars of affirmative action to the company headquarters. He assured all help to dalit entrepreneurs as part of corporate social responsibility. He congratulated DSS for building up such a powerful organization and said he was impressed by the strength of the organization.

Jeevan Kumar, State Convener of Human Rights Forum spoke about the rights of dalits and narrated how the police resort to illegal detentions of dalits in the State on simple pretexts.

. HRF had put in lot of efforts to get the illegally arrested persons released on bail. He appreciated DSS work among dalits and pointed the need to take up the issues of marginalized and neglected castes, particularly land issues. He assured the support of HRF to DSS.

Sri. Venkata Das, Director Sneha TVlauded dalit women for their commitment to Ambedkar ideology and explained the need to focus their problems.He explained how he and other

Ambedkarists formed into a small group to start a TV channel to give voice to dalits. As on today, the electronic media is in the hands of a few dominant sections and these channels don’t give any space to the marginalized sections. The proposed “Sneha” TV channel is intended to reverse the existing scenario and would give space to dalits and marginalized sections. This channel is going to be established with the contributions of dalits in the form of a meagre Rs.100/ shares and is expected to be launched by August 2016.

CH Hemalatha, Chief Finance Officer, Rural Developmentcongratulated DSS for celebrating its journey in a big way and has said that the dalit women are facing many problems in Whichever position they are and wherever they are. DSS took up this challenging task of mainstreaming the dalit women and girl children and have succeeded on doing so. The multipronged approach of DSS in protecting & promoting the rights has resulted in reducing the violence on dalit women and similarly promoting them as entrepreneurs. She expressed her solidarity and wished DSS much more success in the days to come.

Sri. Gopala Rao, I.A.S.Pointed out that land issues remained as it was 40 years ago.No land is given to dalits and on the other hand land is being taken away by the governments in the guise of land pooling, for building capital city in Amaravathi.He said that the losers in land pooling are dalits as most of the lands are cultivated by dalits as tenant farmers.He lamented

the plight of dalit women who toil on the land. He cited the farm labour and also how the women are sacrificing their lives, in places like East Godavari, by working in gulf countries and sending money to the family. Unfortunately, the men are not exhibiting similar responsibility and he hoped that it is dalit women that will struggle to change the society. He observed that the Central Government also is resorting to propaganda tactics to woo the dalits by celebrating 125th Jayanthi of Ambedkar or erecting a high rise statue, without actually uplifting them through concrete programmes. He congratulated DSS for its successful completion of 10 years of arduous journey on the issues of dalit women and assured all support to DSS.

Ms. Vasantha Kannabhiran,appreciated DSS for its committed work for over a decade.She said, it is not easy to run an organization for such a long time without diluting the spirit and commitments.She said, that women were mostly confined to family and it is a difficult process

to kindle awakening in them and make them to sit and think about themselves. She applauded DSS for achieving this task. She pointed out there is an all pervading vicious atmosphere wherein many forces are unable to digest a dalit growing in life and these forces are creating a suffocating atmosphere for dalits to commit suicide. In a situation like this, the dalit women will have to be ready to react to such incidents sharply. This requires analysis, thinking, understanding and all round debate to combat these vicious forces.

Release of 10 years report, “Enabling Empowerment: A Decade’s Journey”: The report was released by Sri Kaki Madhava Rao and the first copy was given to K. Rajamani & B. Bhagya Lakshmi the state coordinators of AP & Telangana.

Sri. Kaki Madhava Rao, IAS., Chief Secretary, Govt of A.P.(Retd.)

Highlighted the achievement of DSS in bringing the organization to the present level over a decade and remarked that anyone can start an organization but running it consistently with commitment is what is required. He shared his experiences of his association with self-help groups of women. He observed that over a time the women developed their participation in public space, which was initially abhorred by their men, but in course of time the men came to accept the reality of women’s public participation.Referring to the decade’s report, he said thatit shows the continuous progress in the work of DSS, both in terms of quality and quantity.

Sri. P.S.N. Murthy, I.A.S.started the speech lauding the dalit woman leadership of Ms. Mayavati and Ms. Jhansi and called upon the dalit women to grow as potential leaders, acquire political

political power as it is the only remedy for ourtribulations.

Sri. Murthy referred to the death of dalit scholar Rohit Vemula in UoH and explained how it was an institutionalized murder of a budding dalit intellectual and applauded the struggle of his mother to get justice. He appreciated DSS for playing a key role in the whole struggle for justice by the students of UoH. He called upon the dalit women to get their children educated and contribute dalit intellectuals to the country in large number. Similarly he referred to the oppressive actions on the dalit intellectual, Rohit from HCU and drew the attention of the people to the exemplary courage of his mother who supported his rightful struggle. Sri. Murthy called upon the dalit women to emulate the mother of Rohit and produce dalit intellectuals.

Session-I:“Dalit Women – Human Rights”

Sri Chellappa IAS, Chairperson for Tribal Commission chaired the session and he congratulated DSS for its committed work and said that being woman and being dalit, the dalit

women are twice oppressed. He observed that the goals enunciated in the Preamble, namely, social and economic justice are ignored by the powers for the past 69 years and now dalits are able to question the injustice done to them. But he lamented that questioning is being branded as anti-national and are being charged with sedition. It’s good that SCSP/TSP Amendments Act 2015 is passed, but rules under the Act are not framed so far which makes the law redundant, similarly, if the amendments made to the Act are not implemented it is of no use.

Books Released of English and Telugu SC,ST PoA Act by Sri. Samuel Anand and first copy was given to Ms. Vimala.

Samuel Anand Kumar IAS, Director - Social Welfare, AP., narrated the ground level problems of witnesses and victims due to the unrealistic rules and regulations under the PoA Act.For instance only 1/4th of the compensation is disbursed to the victim of atrocity in the beginning

and the remaining is given only after the trial and conviction, which takes long and meanwhile, there is possibility of the victims compromising the case due to fear and pressure. Hence we suggested that 50% of the compensation should be given at the time of F.I.R. and another 50% at the time of filing the charge sheet without waiting for the outcome of trial. Moreover, the amount of compensation should be increased to a minimum of Rs.15/- lakhs in cases of serious atrocities like, murder, rape etc. He said, we have to wait and see whether the rules will be modified as per these suggestions.

He appreciated DSS for bringing out English and Telugu versions of the Act with latest amendments and promised to publish them on behalf of the government. He called upon DSS to take the new law to grassroots and assured full co-operation from the Department of Social Welfare.

Pushpa Chakrapani, Professor, Dr.B.R. Ambekar Open University congratulated DSS for the enormous work done during the past decade and said she was always happy to be associated with DSS.She analysed the concept of human rights and called upon dalit women to struggle for their rights and in this context she said education is important to know about human rights. Without knowledge and awareness of human rights one can’t properly demand them, hence, she advised every dalit woman to get their children educated.

VimalaSenior Advocate and Writer, said she was disturbed for the past few days about an incident where the Adivasi women were nakedly paraded and tortured in public by the police.These type of events show that dalit and Adivasi women are considered less

that dalit and Adivasi women are considered less than human beings and all rights are denied to them. They can be tortured and humiliated with impunity.

She traced the origin of the concepts of human rights, democracy and how these modern concepts of equality, liberty and fraternity have come as against the autocratic forms of governance. She pointed out how in the present dispensation these human rights are trampled upon and those who defraud the banks to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees are left scot free while small farmers who take loans of Rs.10,000 odd are forced to repay, driving them to commit suicides.She analysed the development paradigm and called upon the dalit women to reflect and struggle for their rights.

GDV PrakashNational Program Manager of DSSsaid, recently when he attended a meeting of high ranking police and other officials, he came to know that these officials are not aware of the fact that the PoA Act was amended. This is the situation of how the Act is being implemented.

Then he explained the latest amendments brought to the Act with regard to supply of F.I.R., charge sheet copies and the additional protections extended to the victims and witnesses. He called upon people to know this aspect and demand the copies of F.I.R. etc.Similarly, he drew the attention of the audience to the provision for establishment of Exclusive Special Courts and other important changes made to the PoA Act.

Ms. G. Jhansi, Convener, DSS started her speech illustratively asking the audience to answer what happens if a bus with full of passengers is driven by a person who doesn’t know driving at all. The audience responded that the bus collides and all the passengers would die. Then, she said, now the implementation of PoA Act is in the hands of such personnel who are ignorant of the provisions and principles of the Act.

Then she narrated how the dalit Adivasi organizations coalition network at national level, continuously worked hard and lobbied with the leaders like Ms.Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Rahul Gandhi and others for bringing out the amendments ordinance and how the sacrifices of martyrs of Tsundur and other massacres lie behind the success of these amendments.

She compared the latest Act to a powerful weapon in the hand of dalits, and cautioned that a weapon can be used only if one knows the art of handling the weapon. She called upon everyone to be aware of the Act and use it properly. The officials, whose duty it is to implement the Act are not aware of it, but since the Act is for the protection of dalits, the dalits should know the Act and see that it is properly implemented.

Session- II: Dalit Women – Political Rights

K. Rajamani, State Coordinator of APbriefing about the objective of the session said thatDalit women are now being prevented from accessing political rights.DSS is working with the prime objective of mainstreaming dalit women and facilitating them to access political rights and

and space in all public spheres. Generally dalit women are not recognized as equal beings and we have to assert our rights. When we attend District Vigilance and Monitoring Committee meetings we give slogans of women rights and then assert our participation in the meeting. She further cited the instances of how she as representative of DSS approached higher officials like DGP amidst large crowd and submitted memorandums on issues.

Sri.P.S.N. Murthy, I.D.A.S chaired the session and he said that some sections don’t accept the leadership of Mayavati, which I feel is not a correct political decision. One should be able to draw the support of all for acquiring power. He again clarified the concepts of political power, state power and political rights and called upon the dalits to aim state power as envisioned by Dr. Ambedkar.

He explained the concepts of political rights, state power and political power.He recalled how Dr. Ambedkar provided all these rights and also facilities to the dalit sections through reservations and free education etc.He also highlighted how Dr. Ambekar visualized land rights for dalits where dalits themselves could cultivate and prosper, but, this could not be

implemented. Now the Government just gives small pieces of land here and there to dalits which is of not much use. He stressed the need to capture state power to achieve all rights. He condemned the conspiracies of the dominant sections which are pushing the dalit scholars and intellectuals either to leave the Universities or commit suicide and this type of pressure on the dalits can be prevented only if dalits acquire state power. Likewise, the employees, political representatives who got positions through reservations are not able to discharge their duties towards dalits as they face the threat of various repercussions if they do any favour to dalits. All this is due to lack of state power in the hands of dalits.

Dr Siddoji from Help Desk congratulated DSS for successfully completing a decade of committed work.He appealed to people to develop scientific outlook for empowerment

Nothing should be accepted blindly without analysing it.Even God should not be believed without proof.Political rights mean, right to vote, and right to contest for any post, right to start a political party, right to propagate political ideas.We have all these political rights, but only at the legal level.In practice we can’t exercise those legal rights and we don’t have any real political power.We serve in the political parties of the minority dominant castes and we vote for them.We stay in their sphere only.This is because, we are prevented from realizing our political rights by the minority dominant community.This minority dominant community parties have conditioned our minds to work in their sphere for a pittance that they throw at us.Most of us don’t question this paradigm.A very

few shout against this and talk about Ambekarism and dalit emancipation etc. The parties run by the minority people are vociferous and if there is anyone who is not amenable for purchase, this minority suppress him. They can even get him beaten up by his own community men.

R. Subba Rao, IAS.,OSD of State SC Commission congratulated DSS and its convener for successfully running the organization for over a decade and appreciated the dalit women that assembled there for two days out of concern to transform the society. He wished that such people to be in our legislatures. Dr. Ambekar fought for voting rights for dalits and women at the Round Table Conference and convinced the British.

Mary Madiga spoke about the sacrifices of Dr. B.R. Ambekar, Savitribhai, Kanshi Ram and other national leaders who transformed the dalit situation and she called upon all dalit women to unite and struggle against perpetrators of atrocities. She urged all dalit women to teach a lesson to anyone who dared to trample upon the rights of dalit women and inspired the audience to struggle for rights and political power.

Gogu SyamalaWriter,highlighted the conceptual aspects of dalit women situation. She pointed out the discriminatory perspectives that pervade the society with regard to a dalit women. She explained how dalit women are being seen only as manual workers/wage labourers and not as equal human beings and the need to reverse these socially rooted perspectives. She lauded the DSS for its efforts in this regard, in facilitating the dalit women to participate in public affairs, question the officials concerning rights etc. Further, she highlighted the importance of understanding the ideas of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the need to acquire knowledge in all aspects for empowerment.

Prof Sripathi Ramudufrom UoH enthralled at the way DSS convener, G.Jhansi intervened when the dalit scholar Rohit Vemula committed suicide.We were observing and hesitating, but she with her team of dalit women just pushed through the police and the crowd with all the

ferocity and stayed there throughout the night and argued the administration and monitored all formalities. I could see the emotional attachment and commitment to the issue. I was convinced that she is totally different from ordinary NGOs and I could see a different personality with commitment to dalit issues. He explained how his family was brought up and children educated by his mother. Even the present dalit movement at UoH is going ahead because of the girls in the leadership position and he called upon the dalit women to rise up and transform the society.

2nd Day: 5th March

Session - III: Dalit Women –