Societal Analysis

The Coolie Sangha You Built - May 2022

My Namaskaram to Coolie Sangha Members, Representatives and Functionaries!

With great pride I emphasise that ours is a Madiga samastha, a Mala samastha, a Muslim samastha and a Women's samastha. I have always said this from the very beginning. This has not changed and never will change. Some people say that times have changed (kālam mārindi) and this too much change. But I tell you, if we forget this foundational principle, there will be no more ADATS; no more Coolie Sangha. Village society will suffer. Let me explain why.

I have come to talk to you after a very long time. It has been many years since I met all of you. Partly because of COVID-19 and lockdowns. Also because of a laziness. Today, I want to talk about Poor people. Individually (okka okkaruga), one by one, the Poor and the Marginalised (bhalaheena janalu) are weak. They cannot do anything. But as a group the Poor can do many things that the Rich cannot. Together, you converted worthless lands to now cost lakhs of Rupees. Together, you have schooled nearly 70,000 children and helped more than three-quarter of them to finish SSLC. Together, you have changed the status of the girl child. Together, you have run your interest-free credit for many years. You know all this very well. I have not come to talk about Unity.

I have come to talk about the power of the Poor to change society. Not just to get out of poverty. But to change village society itself. I knew this 50 years back. And I wanted to be with such powerful people; all of you. I admire the really powerful people (śaktivantamaina vyaktuluto Nēnu ārādhistānu).

Only the Poor can unite (Ēkaṁ cēyaḍāniki) village society, the whole country, and take it forward. The Rich cannot do this. They have their personal money and property to protect. This broken society (Vicchinnamaina samājaṁ) can be repaired only by the Poor.

  • The Rich do not have the power to school and educate 69,020 school-age children and keep them in school for 10 whole years.
    At most, they can help a small handful to go to school. At most, they can house a few college students in their homes.
  • The Rich do not have the power to level and terrace 60,148 acres of dry land.
    At most, they can level 3 or 5 or 10 acres of their own land using bulldozers and JCBs.
  • The Rich do not have the power to give out ₹ 19.81 crores of interest-free loans, without any securities, and get back 82%.
    The few Rupees they give out as loans, with high interest, benefit them more than the borrowers.
  • The Rich do not have the power to save 4,73,231 tonnes (29,211 truckloads of coal) of pure Carbon. You earned ₹ 6.23 crore by doing so.
  • The Rich do not have the power to suck in 90,998 tonnes of GHG emissions. You have saved another 5,617 truckloads of wood. You earned another ₹ 6.18 crore.
  • The Rich do not have ₹ 28.64 crore in 911 village CSU bank accounts with every single Rupee accounted and no fear of Income Tax raids.
    Even those who claim to have thousands of crores have it hidden under their floors are inside their walls; very little officially accounted for in their bank accounts.
  • The Rich cannot trust 429 Mahila Meetings and cheque signatories selected by them to spend all this money.
    They cannot even trust their own wives, children, family members or best friends to spend their moneys.

That is why we came here 45 years back. We did not come to relate to the Rich. Vālutha mithirthanam penchikunēki rālēdu. Gentlemen (Sreemanthalu) did not invite us here. Even to this day, I have no great faith (vishwāsam) or connection (sambandham) with traders, officials or the welthy (Vyāparasthalu, Adhikāralu, Dhanikalu). I can say Hello to them and be polite; that's all.

And we did not come to "help" the Poor. I have never shown "pity" (daya chūpēki rāledu). That is why I feel embarrassment (Ibbandi) whenever you say that ADATS did this or Ram Sir did that. Because that is not true. The truth is that only the Poor can take society forward on a lasting path (Śāśvatamaina mārgaṁ). If you want to praise me, say only that I saw your potential (Sambhāvyam) and stood with you to do what you set out to do.

I admire the poor (Nēnu meetho ārādhistānu).

It is sad that today, after 45 years, I find the need to remind you of this power that the Poor have. To remind you of the Truth (Vāsthavam). That without the Poor and the Marginalised (bhalaheena janalu), society cannot move forward. That the Minorities are powerful and have an important role to play.

Let me remind you that the Poor are still here in your midst. They may be less poor. But in your perception (mī avagāhanalō) you do not feel Poverty (Pēdarikaṁ). Your potential withered away (mī sāmardhyaṁ kṣīṇin̄cindi; mi thākathu udirindi).

How did this happen? At first through very temporary inducements (tātkālika prēraṇatō). A few Rupees during elections. Then with charity (dātr̥tvantō) — ₹ 1 rice, ₹ 2,000 every 4 months. Then with small jobs (An̄cu udyōgālu) on the edge of the economy (Ārthika vyavasthalo okka an̄cu). All these gave your families ₹ 2,000–3,000 every month. You didn't feel poor. You forgot Poverty. You lost your collective identity.

Even earlier, government schemes and subsidies were always there. But you got them as your Entitlements, your Rights (Ar'hatalu; hakku). Together, you claimed NREGA, government houses, street lights, roads, drains, water taps, good schools, and many more. You knew that these didn't come from anyone's pockets. It was your tax paid money that was coming back to you.

Today, it is these Rights and Entitlements (Ar'hatalu; hakku) that you have forgotten. You have become lonely Individuals begging for what is actually yours.

There are only two things that give people the determination (Hattam) and energy (Ummas) to stick to the same path. The first is Fiction (Kādambari). The other is the Fact (Vāsthavam). The stories and the truth. You have to now decide which is true. Which is Mythology (purāṇaśāstraṁ)? And which is your Experiential Learning (anubhava pūrvakamaina abhyāsaṁ)?

Some people say that they will bring back the golden days. When the rich and the rulers walked on the streets with silk sarees and golden jewellery. Those days that you can see in cinemas and all-night long dramas.
They do not tell you that those very same were the days when you suffered brutality, abuse, insult, untouchability, hunger, death (Krūratvaṁ, Tiṭṭu, Avamānin̄caḍaṁ, Aṇṭarānitanaṁ, Ākali, Maraṇaṁ). For 3,000 long years.

You survived (Mariyu byṭapaḍinaru). The question is, will everyone else? (Praśna ēmiṭaṇṭē, andarū cēstārā? Bytapaditāra?) Can village society survive without the poor? (Pēdalu lēkuṇḍā grāma samājaṁ munduku sāgutundā?)

I listed out some of the things that the Rich cannot do. Those were for you all to escape from poverty. So that you can earn money and get your freedoms.

But there is yet another, more important role for you that only the Poor can perform. It is to serve Society as a whole. It is to instil Morality and Values (Naitikata mariyu Viluvalu) in society. To determine what is Good and what is Bad. What is Right and what is Wrong. What should be done and what should not be done.

In this, the Rich are impotent. They cannot instil and safeguard morality and values in society. They are too concerned with protecting their status and possessions. Only the Poor can join hands, get together, and speak out for justice. And without these characteristics (Lakṣaṇālu) society will not function for long.

Individually, you too have your self-interest. You too are selfish. You are not perfect. You have your defects. But I have seen in thousands of CSU Meetings that when you sit together, you become a cohesive group.

Some people make promises (Āshvāsalu) and give you false hope. They talk about what they will do for you.

In the past 52 years I have never done this. I have only shown you what you can do by yourselves. Wherever there was a gap, I pitched in to the best of my ability.

Not just that. I have aggregated all your individual efforts and presented to the outside world. I have written and spoken about your struggles and achievements. I have explained your vision and ambitions. Even in business matters, I have done just that. Each individual woman may have reduced only 3.5 tonnes of GHG every year. I have put it all together and sold at the highest possible price. So too with carbon credits sequestered through farm forestry.

Some people provoke you find fault with others (Itarula tappulanu kanugonaṇḍi) and raise tempers (Kōpānni pen̄cutāru).

In the past 52 years, I have never pitted one group against anther. Even when I say that that ours is a Madiga samastha, a Mala samastha, a Muslim samastha and a Women's samastha, we welcome others who accept this. Today, 70% of tax paid Members are not SC/ST.

The truth is that the rich fear of the power of the poor. The power that I have talked about just now, to change society by instilling values and morality and ensuring peace and justice. They understand that the poor are safe guarders of peace and progress in society (Pēdalu samājanlō śānti mariyu purōgatiki rakṣakulu). And this is not in their self-interest.

Some people threaten me (Bedirin̄cēnduku prayatnistāru) that I should not try to unite all the poor across caste and community. They do not want me to talk about Rights and Entitlements. They say they will stop foreign funds and take away all our property.
They do not understand that all of you are my only property (Inti āsthi).

Let them go house by house and take away the Woodstoves. Let them go to the children and snatch away their books and bags. Let them go to the fields and pluck all the mangos and guavas.

Some people have taught Cancelled members to ask, "What will I get if I become a Member?" My answer is, "Nothing!" The ones who pay Sangha Tax and stay on are the ones who ask, "What can I achieve when I become a Member?"

Finally, there are 3 things I want to tell you:

  1. Every organisation needs to handle its own money; collect as well as spend. There will be severe disagreements. There will be arguments, fights and bitter accusations. But these fights should be done when sitting down in a circle. After that, everyone should get up with one common decision.
    For the past 2 years, because of COVID-19 and lockdowns, there have been no meetings. Every single Coolie Sangha activity has continued. During the pandemic, we have done even more in health and children's education than in previous years. 4 times more Sangha Funds were spent on equipping VHWs and volunteers and on buying medicines. Balakendra Teachers, along with conscientious government school teachers, conducted classes under the trees, in the temple verandas. With Sangha Funds, you bought all the books and material that would normally have been given by the schools.
    But it was all done centrally, from the Bagepalli office.
    Now we have put all Coolie Sangha moneys into your CSU bank accounts. A total of ₹ 60.86 lakh is in your savings bank accounts. And another ₹ 8.88 crore is in our village Fixed Deposits.
    From now on, you have to meet every week, and take spending decisions in your Mahila Meetings.

  2. Over the years, the poorest of the poor have been "left out" by the Coolie Sangha. Biogas is for those with cows. Forestry for those with good lands and water facility.
    Therefore we have decided to give 5,000 more Woodstoves to very poor women.
    You have to select those who are very poor; those who cannot build Biogas and those do not use LPG. And you have to take monitoring responsibility. They need not be tax paid members; trust me, they will want to pay tax and become Members. But don't make that a condition. Let them join when they too ask the question, "What can I achieve when I become a Member?"

  3. By 31 December we emptied every single Rupee that was in ADATS.
    • We distributed ₹ 4.4 crore to reward farmer families who had sequestered GHG by growing trees on their lands.
    • We distributed 1,845 Woodstoves for very poor women in Bagepalli and 1,748 Woodstoves in Anantapur.
    • We bought notebooks, pens, pencils and school bags for 8,288 children.
      This 2022-23 school year, you do not have to spend your Sangha Funds on children's schooling.

I will end with these last words.

It is not enough for you to come out of poverty (Pēdarikaṁ nun̄ci bayaṭapaḍḍāḍu).

Remember your potential (Mī sāmarthyānni gurtun̄cukōṇḍi).

Perform your societal duty of bringing Morality and Values into society (Naitikata mariyu viluvalanu samājanlōki tīsukurāvaḍāniki mī sāmājika kartavyānni nirvahin̄caṇḍi).