- He passed away on March 18 in Hyderabad
- Founder-director of Deccan Development Society
P.V.Satheesh, who passed away at Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad, on 18 March 2023, after prolonged illness, was the renowned founder Director of the Deccan Development Society, Telangana. Previously, he had been a senior producer of TV documentaries at Doordarshan, India, during the early 1970s. However, appalled at the atrocities that were committed during the period of Internal Emergency established by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, he decided to dedicate his life to serving the poor of India.
The Deccan Development Society, which he helped to establish, was founded on the principles laid down by Mahatma Gandhi, of first serving ‘Dharidra Narayan,’ or the poorest of the poor. The Society focused on establishing ‘sangams’ of Dalit agricultural labouring women in the Zaheerabad taluk of A.P. State. The women sangams, empowered by the NGO, produced many ‘firsts’ in building the community from the ‘bottom upwards.’ They created their own self-help credit groups, which were later copied by the government. They fought against every kind of discrimination faced by the poor and by women, including domestic violence. They were innovative in leasing in fallow land and growing pesticide-free crops to feed themselves. Through social fencing they created a nursery of trees, plants, and medicinal herbs on a rocky hilltop at Raikode village which became a State-wide example of natural regeneration. The DDS sangams, under Satheesh’s leadership, successfully advocated the growing of organically-grown millets. ‘Pacha Shala,’ or green school, was established for the children of the local poor, and a community radio to address the needs of the people.
Satheesh, through his connections with the world of media, was able to publicize the achievements of Dalit women, which were written up in several prestigious international journals and newspapers. A Dalit women’s team was even invited to meet Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in Buckingham Palace. Despite being a diabetic, and a victim of kidney disease, which required dialysis, Satheesh continued to serve the people with dedication over 50 long years. He and his work will always be remembered by the people of the several dozen villages of the Zaheerabad region, and by his friends and admirers in the international NGO development community.
Dr. Vithal Rajan, OC, Ph.D [LSE], BA Hons [McGill], FINS
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