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
Prof G.S. Aurora (Chairperson)
One of the founder members of DDS and a distinguished social scientist. He was formerly professor and dean of Sociology of the most coveted university in the country, the Central University of Hyderabad. Later worked as Professor Emeritus at the famous Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore. Led a famous research project on Structural Adjustment and its Impact on Rural Poor in India.
Dr (Ms) Rukmini Rao (Treasurer)
Active in women’s movement. Consultant to several national and international development organisations; serves on the committees of several governmental and non governmental development organisations.
Mr M.V. Sastry(Honorary Advisor)
One of the founder members of DDS and a most respected development veteran. Also Honorary Advisor for the Centre for World Solidarity, which networks over 150 NGOs in four Indian States.
Prof (Ms) Shanta Sinha (Director)
Recipient of the most coveted honour of Padmashri from the Government of India; Professor of Social Science at the Central University of Hyderabad. A distinguished child rights activist. She heads a famous NGO MV foundation, which works for children and education.
Mr P.V. Satheesh (Secretary)
One of the founder members of DDS, he has been working with the Society for the last 27 years. Currently the General Secretary of the Society and the Director of the Zaheerabad Project. Has been an internationally renowned developmental communication specialist. Of late has been one of the important spokesmen for the civil society in India on the issues of gender and food security and ecological agriculture. Has also specialised on participatory methodologies. Has either initiated or been a key member of a number of networks on food security, participation, ecological agriculture and those networks fighting against genetic engineering, globalization, WTO, TRIPs and such other inequitable international treaties.
Prof B P Sanjay
Vice Chanceller, Tamil Nadu Central University, Tiruvarur, Chennai. Earlier he worked as Professor of Communication and Dean, Sarojini Naidu School of Communication and Fine Arts at the Central University of Hyderabad and as Director in Indian Institute of Mass Communications, New Delhi. Has been a teacher and writer on the issues of Development and Development Communications.
Dr R Akhileswari (Member)
Head of the Department, Mass Communication at Loyola Academy in Secunderabad. Earlier she worked as Special Correspondent, Deccan Herald, Andhra Pradesh and Deccan Herald’s US correspondent in Washington. She has also worked at the National Institute of Rural Development and at Osmania University of Hyderabad. Has been consistently involved in Development Communication.
Dr Vinod Pavarala (Member)
Internationally known expert on participation, development and communication is the Dean of the Sarojini Naidu School of Communication and Fine Arts at the Central University of Hyderabad, one of the five national universities in India. He has also taught courses in communication for a number of universities in India and abroad. Holds a Doctorate in communication from the prestigious Syracuse University, USA. He has been associated with number of forums on Community Radio. Has authored the Guidelines for Community Radio for the Government of India.
Dr.(Ms) E.Revathi (Member)
Director, The Center for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) an Indian autonomous research institute, established in 1980 to facilitate research activity in Economics and Social Sciences. This institute takes up research in the fields of Rural Development and Poverty, Agriculture and Food Security, Irrigation and Water Management, Public Finance, Demography, Health and Environment. It also undertakes research projects sponsored by the State and Central governments, as well as international agencies.
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