Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatan (JMS) –
JMS is a Dalit Women Agricultural Labourer’s Collective and is located at Potnal village of Manvi Taluka in Raichur district of the south Indian state of Karnataka. The process of organising Dalit Women started in the year 1999 and was facilitated by a group of youngsters from different parts of the country who were inspired by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, National Alliance of People’s Movements and other social movements for social justice and equitable development. The team consisted of E. Premdas Pinto, Mita Deshpande, Neju George, Varghese Koshy and the local Dalit youth consisting of Devaputhra, Chauramma, Narasappa and later Chaurappa and Ratnamma.
The understanding of the intersection of case-class-patriarchy and a social analysis of the socio-political and cultural systems of oppression in the context of the predominantly feudal region of Hyderabad Karnataka in general and Raichur in particular formed the basis of initiating JMS. Hyderabad Karnataka region was part of the Nizam state and was made part of Karnataka during the re-organisation of states and consisted of Raichur, Koppal, Bellary, Gulbarga, Bidar (and now Yadgir, bifurcated from Gulbarga). Ubiquitous nature of violence against Dalit women in the form of rape, molestation, sexual exploitation which frequently took the shape of caste atrocities along with wide spread domestic violence formed the immediate context of vigorously mobilising Dalit Madiga women of Raichur. In the process JMS came to represent Dalit Women Agricultural Labourers’ collective voice. A vision of social transformation built upon the principles of social justice and equity shaped the processes and historical interventions.
The process of JMS included the following:
- Large scale mobilisation in 15 gram panchayats covering about 60 villages
- Community organisation of Dalit women in each village
- Capacity building of women to respond to situations of exploitation: Series of trainings on patriarchy, caste-class analysis, reflection on the structural causes of poverty, ownership of resources, land wage et cetera were conducted.
- Demonstration of collective power against exploitation
- Creative Initiatives for livelihood opportunities, rejuvenation of land and work on natural resources feeding into the process of economic and social empowerment
The Framework: The framework of the community organising and mobilising was two-fold: Sangharsh and Navamirman. Sangharsh is the struggle for rights, self-respect and taking courage to voice out against injustice and Navanirman is creative efforts to build life, livelihoods and harmonious community. The vision of building institutions owned by people and the process of bringing together the agricultural labourers gave rise to the idea of Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatan (JMS). JMS was envisaged as a symbol of collective power of women agricultural labourers in the district of Raichur in Northern Karnataka struggling for their socio-cultural-economic and political space and rights while engaging in creative initiatives of building life and livelihood for self-respect and dignity.
Navnirman Trust was set up in 2005 for legal and statutory requirements that will facilitate the work of Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatan. Navnirman Trust is registered under the Trust Act in the state of Karnataka and has got income tax exemptions of 80G and 12A.