Documents of ADATS - Book 6

Agriculture Policy & Strategy Paper (November 1997)

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The formation of a Coolie Sangha Unit (CSU) in a village is usually preceded by landed and landless agricultural labourers persistently inviting us to begin our intervention cycle. They would have observed the burgeoning of Coolie strength in nearby villages and taken a decision to take the plunge and burn bridges with the middle peasantry — to escape from cruel exploitation and senseless oppression through institutions like bonded labour, child labour, usurious credit, caste segregation, sexual harassment, grabbing of government’s antipoverty benefits, and an ever present and torturous humiliation.

Middle peasants consolidate their stranglehold by creating a crushing dependency whereby the Coolies rely upon Ryots for each and every dealing with the outside world of government officers, banks, hospitals, police, et al. Young persons from Coolie ranks come forward to take responsibility for initiating various activities suggested by us. They gradually develop into a committed cadre and replace such dependency with a dignity giving selfreliance.

Coolie Sangha building starts with night classes and cultural activities for adults, following a pedagogic conscientisation approach. Some of the very first problems that the Coolies discuss in their every evening gatherings relate to past cases of cheating whereby they had unfairly lost lands and other precious assets. They go on to formulate strategies to claim them back.