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Dalit Women – Empower the Society (17th Annual General Body meetings of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana)

17th Annual General Body meetings of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were held on 22nd and 25th February 2023 at Vijayawada and Hyderabad, respectively.  The theme of the conferences was “Dalit Women – Empower the Society”, by which DSS conveys to the public in general that society can progress only if dalit women who constitute sizable chunk of the population are involved in the social, political and economic spheres of society there can’t be any progress.  A call is given to the society to empower and involve dalit women in all spheres of life for the progress of the nation.


  The general body meetings in both the states were conducted with lot of enthusiasm and active participation of dalit women.  DSS takes pride in having completed 17 years of its journey in protecting and promoting the rights of dalit/Adivasi women and girl children. Annual Report covering the activities of 2022 was attractively printed was brought out for the perusal of everyone and it was released on the occasion by the dignitaries.  In both the states prominent intellectuals, higher officials participated in the conferences and eloquently spoke on the theme and enlightened the dalit women gathering.


Andhra Pradesh: The General Body meeting of Andhra Pradesh was held on 22nd February 2023 at Ambedkar Bhavan, Vijayawada.  The meeting commenced from 11.00 a.m. onwards.  A large contingent of dalit women participated in the conference and attentively listened to the speakers.  Higher officials and intellectuals shared their views on the theme of the conference. 

The dignitaries that addressed the gathering were: Sri. Syam Sundar, Resident Editor of Hans India, Sri. Praveen Kumar, IAS, Special Secretary, GAD, Sri. Kaki Suneetha, IAS, Principal Secretary, Handlooms, Sri. M. Ravichandra, IAS, Principal Secretary, Women and Child Welfare, Sri. Byra Koteswara Rao, Addl. DOP, Sri. Jesu Ratna Kumar, Retired Judge, Sri. K. Vijaya Kumari, Vice-Principal, Ayurvedic College, Sri. Rajendra Prasad, member, SCPCR Cell, Sri. Sridevi, Safai Karmachari Andolan.  Sri. B. Bhaygyalakshmi, State Coordinator, State Women Collective leaders Sri. Susanna, Sri. Lakshmi Prasanna, Sri. Roja, coordinated and conduct of the conference.

 

Syam Sundar, Hans India, said empowerment is important, but we should know how to achieve this empowerment.  I feel that education is an important way to achieve empowerment.   

By education, I don’t mean only formal education, but it is all encompassing education, in which one should be abreast of society, economic situation, political reality and the functioning of all institutions of the State.  In addition to the general knowledge of socio-political reality, it is necessary to have formal degree also.  I was not an educated person from the childhood, but I studied degree, master of arts and law with the encouragement of my wife and joined in an English newspaper as sub-editor and now as resident editor of Hans India.  You should know from my life example that education is important to achieve a position.  Age is not bar for education.  You must continuously read all possible books in any language.  Hence, I appeal to all of you to continuously study and acquire knowledge and also formal degrees. 


Sri. Kaki Suneetha, IAS, appreciated that DSS conducts good programmes every year and that she happily attends the programmes of DSS whenever there is possibility.  She cited Ambedkar’s quote

that a society’s progress shall be estimated on the basis of the status of the women of that society.  In our country one should estimate the society on the basis of the respect a woman of the marginalised caste receives.  Women born in low castes were oppressed a lot and they were humiliated.  These women were not allowed to wear a blouse also till recently.  If one sees the data of crimes, it becomes clear that most of the rapes are perpetrated on women hailing from scheduled castes and tribes.   This is because the perpetrators of such crimes are assured of impunity.  If a dalit woman is raped, the police don’t respond in accordance with law.  But there is now Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act which is a good law that provides various guidelines for rendering justice to the victim.  As per this law the perpetrator of atrocity should be arrested when the police receive a complaint and the social welfare department should provide compensation and other measures.  Social welfare department has number of schemes to help the dalit women/girls, such as residential schools for education and also sports schools for those who are talented in sports.  Medical aid to women with anaemia and lactating mothers is also available.  Apart from education, coaching for competitive examinations is also provided.  Everyone should utilise all these governmental programmes and if there is any doubt with regard to any aspect, they may contact me or other officials of social welfare department.


Sri. K Praveen Kumar IAS, Special Secretary of Administration, appreciated DSS and the committed work by its convener Jhansi Geddam.  He explained the meaning of dalit.  Dalit signifies oppression,

violence and struggle against oppression.  Thus viewed, Dalit Sthree Sakthi means women’s struggle for liberation.  He elucidated that women are powerful and it is women who take care of children and implant ideology to children.  Women should take care to be conscious of slavish ideology and patriarchal stereotype thinking.  Most of the women assimilate the patriarchal dogma that women are inferior to men and while nurturing their children, these women discriminate between son and daughter and thus pass on the age-old tradition of treating women as inferior to men. He cautioned all women to free themselves from slavish thinking and rear their children as equals.  Likewise, there is lot of slavish culture in treating poor people and among the bureaucracy.  In offices also, a clerk treats an attender as his slave and he behaves as a slave when he interacts with his higher official.  It is necessary that all the women should shed slavish mentality, transform themselves and change their thinking.  He reminded the audience that it was Dr.B.R. Ambedkar who was responsible for the entire nation’s development activities including women rights, voting rights, in addition to drafting the constitution.


Sri. Byra Koteswara Rao, Addl DoP, said that despite the enactment of SC, ST (PoA) Act it is not implemented properly.  From the stage of FIR, the law is implemented only when organisations like DSS intervene.  DSS has been assisting the dalit women in accessing justice in all cases of atrocities committed on them.  I appreciate and commend DSS for the yeoman service that it is rendering to the dalit women and wish they continue the work with same commitment and enthusiasm.


Sri. J Rajendra Prasad, Member of APSCPCR, appreciated DSS its work for the empowerment of dalit women.  The child rights protection committee take care of the rights of children up to the age

of 18 and in instances of violence on children, the committee with the involvement of police and other officials works to protect the children.  It is necessary for children to be educated. He appealed to everyone to help in eradicating all forms of violence on children and report any incidents of violence to the commission.  He explained various schemes of Government of A.P. for the welfare of children and appealed to all to utilise those schemes for the betterment of children.


Sri. Ravi Chandra, IAS, Principal Secretary of Women and Child Welfare Dept, appreciated DSS for

its courageous work against all odds.  He outlined the government scheme by name ‘vatsalya’, under which destitute children who lost their parents are taken care of. These days many children are becoming destitute due to loss of parents in accidents, Covid deaths etc.  In all such cases the government takes the responsibility to take care of such children’s daily needs of food, education by contributing Rs.4000/ He asked the audience to approach the department if there is any such child.  Likewise, the department takes care of women in distress.  He advised the gathering to send the children to anganwadi centers and schools for nutritious food and education.  Lactating mothers and pregnant women also can go to anganwadi centers for nutritious food, vitamin supplements.  He appealed to the dalit women to be courageous in facing difficulties and seek help from others.


Sri. Kola Vijaya Kumari, Vice Principal, Ayurvedic College, explained that awareness is important and for that education is necessary.  There are many government schemes that people are not

aware of.  One should know about all schemes and have general knowledge.  One should be courageous for which knowledge and education are important.  Dalit women should be able to approach the concerned authorities with their own knowledge.  Women should learn from the environment around them.  One can learn from ant to honey bee.  Health is important and all women should take some food within one and half hour after waking up.  We should develop as dalit women with dignity.

 

Sri. Jesu Ratna Kumar, Retd Judge, said our constitution guarantees Justice, social, economic and

political.  In this meeting the high officials called upon everyone to be courageous and shed slavishness, which is what Dr.B.R. Ambedkar wished.  Today I am able to see the constitutional spirit among the speakers and audience that assembled here.   Ambedkar visualised women empowerment and organised public meeting of 25,000 women in the year 1942. During those days, in 1942 it is very uncommon to talk about women empowerment.  Today, Ms. Jhansi organised this meeting on the same topic of women empowerment and you have all attended this meeting.  I appreciate DSS for bringing women together to discuss about their empowerment.


Annual Report for the year 2022 was released by Ms. Kaki Suneetha, IAS, and by Sri. Praveen Kumar IAS.  First copies were given to all the dignitaries on the dais and it was displayed to the participants.  Women Collective leaders, participants were distributed the copies of Annual Report.  The dignitaries on the dais had a glimpse of the Annual Report and appreciated the coverage of activities in the Report. 

 

Bhagya Laxmi, State Coordinator, explained about the hard work turned out during the year and appreciated the active contribution of Women Collectives in going to the rescue of victims of atrocities and in follow up of cases.  She conveyed vote of thanks to all dignitaries and participants who have come from distant places to make the General Body meeting, a grand success. At the end she read out the finalised declaration.

 

Sri Nancharaiah, Sridevi, Prakash Kote & Ramesh representing various Organisations attended to the meeting and addressed the participants.  They have sung many latest educative songs to inspire the audience and convey the message of Dr.B.R. Ambedkar.




Telangana: The General Body meeting of Telangana was held on 25th February 2023 at Ambedkar Resource Centre, Lakdikapul, Hyderabad.  Dalit women and women collective leaders and members participated in large numbers and enthusiastically listened to the dignitaries that spoke on the theme of the conference.  The dignitaries that attended the meeting were: Sri. Narra Ravi Kumar, National Convener, DICCI, Sri. Siva Bhagya Rao, Retd. IRS, Sri. Nalini Raghu Raman, Representative of Deputy British High Commissioner, Sri. Vanajakshi, Industrialist, Sri. Khalida Parveen, Social Activist, Sri. Kuppili Padma, Renowned Writer, Sri. Anjamma, President of Vennela Organisation, Sri. Sri Devi, Safai Karmachari Andolan. 

Ms. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS presided over the meeting while, Sri. B. Bhgyalakshimi, State Coordinator of DSS acted as moderator of the proceedings. 

 

Sri. Siva Bhagya Rao, lauded the consistent work of DSS for the past 17 years.  It is very difficult to consistently work for such a long time, but Ms. Jhansi Geddam has been working for the

downtrodden dalit/Adivasi women and girl children for so many years at the cost of her health and family. We should question ourselves whether we achieved empowerment during the past 75 years.  He said that it is unfortunate that the political representatives who won from SC/ST constituencies never stood up for the rights of dalit/Adivasi women and they never spoke about the plight of these communities in legislatures.  These dalit representatives have not spoken or supported DSS so far. We have not seen any empowerment among the dalit political representatives, dalit IAS/IPS officers.  These dalit politicians/officers never speak for us as they are afraid of their career and future prospects. We don’t have anyone in media also to speak for us and we can’t start our own media as it is very costly. Only two/three dominant castes have their own media representing their caste and political party.   Thus, we have not achieved any empowerment during the past 75 years.  Though there are so many schemes for the empowerment of dalit/Adivasis none of them were actually implemented.  We have not questioned for proper implementation of the schemes.  Unless we can elect committed leaders like, Ms. Jhansi Geddam who can speak and fight us we can’t achieve empowerment.


Ms. Nalini Raghuraman, said that everyone should enjoy human rights equally without

discrimination of caste, class and gender.  We should work for the promotion of human rights of all. Economic empowerment, education is also equally important. Age is not important and recently a 90-year-old woman studied and passed X class.  She appreciated Ms. Jhansi Geddam for running DSS for 17 years with the same spirit and enthusiasm and without getting tired.  She advised everyone to work for themselves so that others like DSS can help them.  She appreciated DSS and the committed team for their consistent team.  Dalits have lot of problems and a lot can be done to ameliorate them.  One happy thing is quite a number dalits are going abroad for higher studies.  She explained that the High Commissioner’s office conducts October 11th as girl child and on that day, they conduct a competition on gender issue.  Girls all over India will be asked to post a small video and the winner will be conferred the status of British High Commissioner for one day. This year the competition was won by a dalit girl which shows that dalits can be as good as anybody, given the opportunity.


Ms. Khalida Parveen, appreciated DSS for giving voice to the oppressed and depressed dalit

women.  She said that police highhandedness has increased and recently they tortured a person to death on the suspicion that he was a chain snatcher. Whenever, there is violation of rights of any person we should defend the person and stand up for human rights. As DSS has been continually protecting the rights of dalit/Adivasi women we should support DSS in all aspects.



Ms. Vanajakshi, Industrialist, appreciated DSS and said that she is in business and visited DSS gatherings number of times.  She also gave details of how she helped many dalit women to launch various business ventures.  She cited some dalit woman who started business, but left in the middle and pointed that one should bear all hardships and work hard to succeed in any business venture.  She invited everyone to contact her for any clarifications, advices on businesses and they can share if they have any ideas.  She appreciated Ms. Jhansi Geddam for her inspirational and motivational speeches and called upon the women to raise above shyness and be bold.  She said one should think of being economically independent.   



Ms. Kuppili Padma, Writer, suggested every woman to question the male domination in all spheres and inspired the women to play their role in every sphere.   She felt already a lot has been achieved and still there is much to do.  As a writer, she observed that many dalit men and women and dalit youngsters are contributing significant literature in the form of poetry, novel, stories and other forms.  She said the contribution of dalits in the field of literature is very inspiring and suggested everyone to follow the literature and tread the path advocated by the writers. 


Sri. Narra Ravikumar, National Convener of DICCI, appreciated DSS on the completion of its 18th year.  It is not so easy to work consistently for 18 years.  He felt that the system should

guarantee security to every citizen born in the country.  He pointed out that we didn’t develop to the extent Japan developed during the same period.  Speaking about the racial discrimination in USA, he pointed out that the blacks there demanded their share and participation in the social and economic development instead of a few schemes.  He suggested that we should also demand our equitable share in the economic resources and overall development like the blacks in America.  He said, its unfortunate that the women and youth are more attached TVs and mobile phones and not thinking of economic development and the political situation.  Every poor person should enquire why he is poor and work with determination to change his situation.  Determination to change the existing situation is necessary for anyone’s development.  If a person decided to progress and works hard, he/she will get all necessary cooperation. 

Sri. Ananthayya and Sri. Srinivas, advocates, called for a society where there is no gender and caste discrimination and appreciated DSS for working towards these objectives. They encouraged the participants not to loose heart and hope in the face of false propaganda of media and attacks in the society.  They called upon everyone to be wise, united and courageous and march ahead under the leadership of DSS.  


Ms. Anjamma, Vennela Organisation, Singer, told everyone to be conscious of social revolution and play their role in the transformation.  She said she is fully involved in cultural activities for social transformation and keeps writing and singing on dalit/Adivasi women issues.  She observed that many women are not conscious of the society and what is happening around.  She narrated how ordinary woman are being deviated from their social responsibilities by TV & Media.  Some women are so deeply addicted to TV serials that they are totally blind towards their social role as well as family responsibilities.  She cited a live incident of a woman neglecting even her baby child’s health check -up and spent time in watching a TV serial.  She appreciated DSS for its committed work for women and men also.  She narrated an incident in her village in Shadnagar, where a dalit man was attacked with acid by dominant caste men.  Later, the culprits pressurised and threatened the victim and his supporters to compromise.  At that time many organisations and individuals who came to support the victim withdrew from the scene due to fear and pressures.  In such a situation it was only DSS that stood with the victims and supported him till the end.


Sajaya, Arshia and Vasundhara, Krishna Kumari and Sridevi, Sivaraj also addressed the gathering.


Sri. Narra Ravikumar and Ms. Nalini Raghu Raman released the Annual Report.



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