Monthly Archives: January 2011

Volunteer Experience

I have always wanted to volunteer somewhere in India. I finally got the opportunity on a Sustainable Development Practicum with my school, the American University of Paris. I decided to work with ADECOM Network because I found the speech given by Ms. P. Lalidamballe to be incredibly inspiring. Not knowing what this organization was about I was enthralled with her explanation of the Dalit people and their role in India. I had heard of the untouchables in India, but I never thought that there was still discrimination going on today, even after this was abolished in the 1950s. I also knew about the caste system but have never heard it from someone who has actually lived it. Ms. Lalida discussed the lives of the Dalit people in India and what ADECOM is doing to empower them. ADECOM Network does a surprising amount of work on Dalit empowerment, with separate programs and partner companies focusing on Dalit children, women, and politics. They even have a theater group, Kootu-k-Kural, a joint organization that puts on street performaces and trainings for the Dalit audience focusing on daily issues that they face. I was amazed at their logic when it came to communicating with the Dalit people. ADECOM likes to work at the « grass-root level » which focuses on working directly with the village people and not using a top down approach in communicating their message. For example Kootu-k-Kural entertains people while they are learning about major issues.

It was easy to choose this organization as it is incredibly inspiring. I have done my best to lend a hand in the short time I am here. However, I feel that I have taken away much more than I have left. Everyday I look at new video footage, pictures, listen to Ms. Lalida or Perumal speak, and I learn something new. Every single day I am inspired and all I want to do is remember this experience and remember that people are out there, devoting their lives to an entire community that has been ignored for centuries. I revamped their weblog and updated some of their information, but I know my two weeks at ADECOM are nothing compared to the 18 years of devotion Ms. Lalida has shown.  Of the many experiences I have had at the organization, I especially loved lunch at the ADECOM office.  We gather in the biggest room, everyone sitting in a circle enjoying their meal (which was always incredible).  I truly appreciated the opportunity to listen and learn.  I think those were some of the best conversations I’ve ever had.

Panchayat Raj Meeting

Date: 25.11.10                                                            Venue: Reena Mahal, Oulgreat

Mrs. Lalida, director of ADECOM stated that the Puducherry government has to conduct the local panchayat election subsequent to 36 years. In 2006 the Puducherry government organized the local panchayat election in three phases in various regions. One thousand one hundred forty eight (1148) members were elected, however, for the past four years the Puducherry government has not confered the roles and responsibilities to the elected local panchayat representatives. At the same time the elected representatives do not know their powers and roles in their respective villages.

On the second of October, ADECOM Network conducted seminar on panchayat raj for social field activist working from grassroots NGOs from Puducherry. The impact of the programme was the activist realized the importance of the local governance in Puducherry. As a follow up action, we decided to organize the seminar on panchayat raj to the elected women representatives. ADECOM Network organized to build the capacity of the local panchayatiraj leaders and also make them aware of their Powers and Responsibilities.

In her address she quoted the words of Mrs. Pratibha Patil, the President of India. She stated that the goal is to provide 50% reservation for women in panchayat and that urban local bodies have already been introduced and should amended this as a law. So in  the Puducherry local election the government should provide 50% reservation to women and also the political parties should implement the same in the upcoming elections. She also requested the Puducherry government to sanction the separate budget for panchayat.

Mr. M. Ramadoss, PMK MP:

In his speech, Mr. Ramadoss stated that today women are developing very well in the entire field, particularly in politics. Because women are involved in politics there is effective ruling structure without any corruption in politics. When Mr. Mani Sankar Iyer, minister of panchayat, from central government came to assess the real situation of Puducherry panchayat the elected women representatives boldly shared their demand with him. Women are not inactive by giving the situation in politics. The beneficiaries demanded him to meet Congress party leader Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to explain the situation of panchayat in Puducherry. He ensured to take them to Delhi to meet Congress party leader Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.

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ADECOM 2010 Round-Up

  • New Years Celebration at ADECOM with Kootu-k-Kural and Women’s Rationalist members.
  • Pongal Festival at the Bohi Cultural Center.
  • Children’s calendar release with Dalit volunteers at ADECOM including Thiru Mr. Gajendiran from the NCDHR and Nallagodhandaraman.
  • On 21/01/2010 ADECOM celebrated their 18 years of achievement. At the Bharath Nivas Auditorium in Auroville the “18 Year Agitate for Dalit Liberation with 400 participants, including Jayakumar (the founder of ADECOM) and the Uthirapathi Justice, who have given their services for ten years.
  • Aids awareness program in the village Madagadipet that included speeches on sexually transmitted diseases and a Panchayat question and answer session with students.
  • 20 children from Mudhalyarpet and Nataji nagar villages came to ADECOM for a summer camp. This was closely followed by the event for HOPE org, which gives importance to Dalit children in the Puducherry region.
  • At the Puducherry Legislative Assembly in May, members submitted proposals attempting to encourage women to participate in politics.
  • French volunteer Judith Cloudin was with ADECOM for one week and organized a discussion about global warming for children.
  • In the month of June ADECOM participated in a South Indian Dalit Writers meeting facilitated by magazine proprietor Pudija Kodangi and IAS Mrs. Sivangami, who discussed improvement skills for Dalit writers.
  • In June ADECOM also hosted for “Children and Adolescent Theater Project” for the 3rd year. This program is supported by Karuna Trust, which is based in Australia.
  • On July 3rd ADECOM members organized rehabilitation for the fire accident in Thandeeshavaranallore. Twenty huts were destroyed in the fire and ADECOM members provided dress materials and rice to the villagers and helped them with the shock of the accident.
  • Arunthathiyar cultural night took place in August, which discussed Dalit empowerment a demanded a 6% reservation for the Arunthathiyar community. This was closely followed by a state level consultation discussing the status of Arunthathiyar children, attempting to reduce atrocities.
  • In November ADECOM organized a meeting for women in surrounding villages to discuss their family issues.
  • On November 11th there was a discussion about the power and responsibility of Panchayat leaders. 41 women who were elected were present. Ms. P. Lalidamballe discussed that the Puducherry government has allowed for women to be elected, however many of those elected do not understand the power they have, therefore they do not use it effectively. Mrs Sridevi (Chairman of Puducherry Municipality) discussed women’s liberation and the political participation of women. She explained the importance of having women present in the Panchayat. Mr. A. John Kumar (Vice Chairman of Puducherry Municipality) published a booklet of Panchayat women representatives to ADECOM Network.