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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.