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VHWs are Coolie women selected by their respective Mahila Meetings. Many of them are either illiterate or neo-literate. They are not ADATS Staff in the strict sense of the term even though they are initially trained and paid for by ADATS. After 3 years, they directly report to their respective Mahila Meetings who pay their stipends from out of the decentralised health budgets. They are the only village Staff who continue even after ADATS withdrawal, with their stipends being paid from the Sangha Funds.
Apart from imparting health education, rendering first aid and giving ante and post-natal care, VHWs assist the women CSU Representatives to conduct weekly Mahila Meetings and attend special training sessions with them. They encourage Coolie women who have not attended the mixed ALP Classes along with men to attend the special round of ALP Classes conducted exclusively for women. They follow up on everything that Coolie women decide upon in order to enhance their strength within the CSUs and assist in struggles they undertake in wider society.
5-6 CSUs are together clubbed into a Cluster. Initially, these Clusters are formed and looked after by ADATS paid Community Workers. After they are withdrawn at the end of the 1st 3 year Coolie Sangha Formation phase, Cluster Secretaries are elected every April by the CSU Representatives of each Cluster for 1 year terms.
Besides conducting Cluster Meets on fixed days every week, the Cluster Secretaries attend each and every one of the 5-6 weekly CSU Meetings and Mahila Meetings in their jurisdiction. They then have to work hard to follow up on decisions taken in these various fora. This includes extensive travel to solve problems and do liaison work with banks, government offices, higher Coolie Sangha functionaries and even with ADATS, meet with the police, lawyers and court officials, accompany members to specialised hospitals outside the Taluk, help make purchases, etc. Though this is a full time job, the Coolies deliberately underpay their Cluster Secretaries in order to invite committed Coolies to work as “public servants” for limited periods of 1-2 years.
All the CSU Representatives and Cluster Secretaries together elect their Taluk Secretaries for 1 year terms every May. Elections alternate by sex — i.e. if a Taluk elects a man as Secretary in the first year, the post is immediately reserved for a woman in the second year.
The Taluk Secretaries’ mornings are spent in meeting with Coolies who come to the Taluk headquarters and getting their problems sorted out. After that, just like any Area Field Worker, they too attend Cluster Meets in the afternoon and then go on to a CSU with a pressing problem. Apart from this, they have countless appointments to represent Coolie interests at government offices, banks, with politicians, etc.
These elected Secretaries at each Taluk, along with the common Coolie Sangha President and Treasurer, form the 4 Executive Committees which meet once a fortnight to review decisions taken in their respective Taluk Coolie Sangha Meetings. The Field Workers sometimes sit in as observers. These Meetings serve to check perspectives and directions, bring in current and relevant grassroots information and take back larger ideas to the villages.
The President controls, directs and takes decisions on matters concerning the Coolie Sangha on the advice of the Executive Committee. She presides over the election meeting where the new Taluk Secretaries are elected every year in the month of May. She formally inducts newly elected Cluster Secretaries into the respective Executive Committees.
The President appoints Returning Officers for the various elections for CSU Representatives and Cluster Secretaries and ensures that these elections are held in the free and fair manner.
The President, on the advice of the Executive Committees, appoints the Staff of the Coolie Sangha, and removes or initiates disciplinary proceedings against them. She similarly engages or removes lawyers, auditors and advisors.
The President enters into arrangements and agreements with the Agricultural Development & Training Society (ADATS) to maintain and supervise the books of accounts of the Coolie Sangha and it’s various branches, the computerised data bank, including Membership Register, etc. Under such arrangements and agreements, ADATS deputes Accountants to maintain the books of accounts of the Coolie Sangha. Such Accountants observe directions of the BCS Treasurer with great fidelity, accuracy and integrity.
The Board of Trustees is constituted by 4 Permanent Trustees (including the President and Treasurer) and 8 Elected Trustees.
2 Trustees, a woman and a man, are elected by all the Member Coolies of each taluk for 3 year terms. These Trustees are elected on a rotation basis so that only one Taluk goes in for Trustee elections each year.