|The DDS Team|
DDS started as the commitment of a group of professionals to the people of its present project region (Zaheerabad) to continue a rural development project which was abandoned by an industrial house due to its own politico-economic compulsions. The earliest objectives of DDS were to combine ecological and employment parameters to regenerate the livelihoods of the people in the area. It was also transfer of people-oriented technology. Gradually it has evolved into a programme which has three guiding principles : gender justice, environmental-soundness and people's knowledge.
DDS is a grassroots organisation working with Sanghams (village level groups) of poor women most of who are dalits. The society has a vision of consolidating these village groups into strong and vibrant organs of primary civil society and federate them into a strong pressure lobby for women, poor and dalits. A host of continuing dialogues, debates, educational and training programmes facilitated by the Society with the people tries to translate this vision into a reality.
Alongside this ideological role the Society is also trying to reverse the historical process of degradation of the environment and people's livelihood system in this region through a string of land-related activities like permaculture, community grain fund, community green fund, community gene fund and collective cultivation through land lease etc. These activities, alongside taking on the role of earthcare is also resulting in human care by giving the women a new-found dignity and profile in their village communities.
When DDS was founded in 1983, there were six founder members all of who were professionals in various fields : Development Economy, Social Science research, Management Sciences, Communication Technology, Social Anthropology and Development Management. The vision of the society then was to give a leadership to the community groups from outside and facilitate a humane transfer of technology.
As the Society grew more people joined from outside : agriculture engineers, permaculturists, foresters, environment scientists, psychologists and feminists. Almost everyone from outside.
Slowly as the fascination and curiosity of the outsiders for rural work waned, one after another they withdrew slowly and remained where they belonged : in urban settings, doing what they would do best : management, consultancies, teaching, networking and such other activities.
The gap left in the internal leadership of the Society is slowly being filled by the real stakeholders of the project : the rural people. A large team of farmers, artisans, barefoot agriculture scientists, foresters, watershed specialists, farm engineers, communicators and such other cadres have emerged in DDS. An overarching leadership of some extremely capable women has slowly taken over the day to day management of various activities. They are also acting as a Think-tank for the core management team of the Society.
This is the leadership which is sustainable and long lasting. More
and more they have proved that their capabilities are beyond the ordinary
imagination of the so called development experts from urban areas. Today
these women can negotiate with anyone on any issue : from food security
to video production. They have proved their extraordinary mettle in
all these fields.
It is on this leadership that the Society will rely more and more. Bringing more and more outsiders is a harrowing task. A lot of energy and time is invested on them. But the call of the new 'globalisation' in development sector becomes irresistible for these people. The huge salaries, professional fees and profiles are so attractive that before one has finished sculpting them, they are gone. This is most unsustainable. Therefor relying on the real stakeholders in rural areas is not only sustainable but also most satisfying. It also challenges the conventional stereotyped thinking on leadership by facilitating a real rural leadership.
DDS, as an organisation which is looking for alternatives in all fields,
also feels that this is the way forward.
Deccan Development Society Board
Dr (Ms) Rukmini Rao (Director)
Mr M.V. Sastry(Honorary Advisor)
Prof B P Sanjay
Dr R Akhileswari (Member)
Dr Vinod Pavarala (Member)