Founder - Chairman


News & Events

AGRI-CLINIC & AGRI-BUSINESS CENTER: AWARE has been approved as Nodal Training Institute (NTI) by MANAGE (Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare) to conduct Training in Agri-Clinic and Agri-Business for Unemployed Agricultural Graduates /Diploma Holders/similar qualification. The training is for 60 days at Pujyashri Madhavanji Agricultural Polytechnic, at Aswaraopet Campus, Khammam District.... Read more...
Integrated Rural Development Program
Gender Justice

{gallery}gallery/gender_justice/001{/gallery} When AWARE awakened poor especially Tribals and Harijans, the WOMEN awakened AWARE.

Experience – Women that awakened AWARE

Dr. Madhavan shares his experience “It was November 26, 1976; I was invited to a village called Govindapalli to address a meeting. My friend Mr. John Galburtt from ICCO organization from the Netherlands was with me. I asked him to follow me for the meeting. Our car reached Govindapalli Tribal Thanda (Village) around 2 PM. I was surprised to see 300 Tribal women gathered rather than usual men gatherings. I felt happy that I am going to address exclusive women Maha Sabha.  I prepared a few advises to women like hExperience – Women that awakened AWAREealth, hygiene, family responsibility, child care etc., As usual I was made to sit on a cot which acted as stage. Lots of garlands were put on my neck.  Arathi was performed as normal practice venerating me. I was so happy to see colourfully dressed Tribal women sitting in front of me while men holding children standing behind. A complete opposite experience

At the meeting, suddenly one Lambada Tribal woman got up and said in her rustic rude manner that AWARE was of no relevance to the woman. Then woman after woman got up and started a tirade against AWARE for being male -chauvinistic, The women said  “You visit our village regularly. Ok!  But with whom do you talk! Always with our men? You conduct village meetings, Ok! All men sit in front of you and women carrying children stands behind?  You talk of rural development and men’s leadership. Did you ever talk about women? You said loans will be given to men. Did you ever asked, discussed the needs of women? How many women work in your AWARE. You are a male, your driver is a male, your staffs are male, you talk to men of our village. Did you ever think women too need development? What development models you are talking. Leaving behind women and you took granted that women simply falls in line. Who misuses money? Who drinks alcohol?  Who wanders in cities? Did you ever realise it is the men and not women?

Dr.Madhavan who was spell-bound and shocked for some time he had no answer. He bends his head and humbly apologized to the gathered women. His pride disappeared. He assured that all attention will be given to women here after.

Slowly the realization dawned on the founder and AWARE workers. It is the woman who is the key factor of the village economy, but she remains outside the purview of development planners and social workers. They soon started with the action plan.

Women must be honoured and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands and brother-in-laws, who desire family welfare.  Where the female relatives live in grief that family soon perishes utterly,but that family in which they are not unhappy prospers ever.

 – Manu: From the Manu Dharma Shastra

Gender Justice

As a first step AWARE organized woman’s meetings and next was the formation of Mahila Mandals -- Woman’s organizations in every project villages to suggest ways to improve the village economy and their own house-hold economy. And later, women were posted at the head of the coordinating organization, as health workers and paralegal staff in the villages. AWARE itself recruited women staff, mostly at village level and one woman at Head office level. Number of training camps exclusively for women were conducted, first in villages and then at district headquarters and then at Bhagwathipuram near Hyderabad. 

First Rural Women Convention:

In 1987, First Rural Women convention was held at Bhagwathipuram for five days where 25,000 women from all over Andhra Pradesh and neighboring states attended. First four days Ministers, Senior Government officials, Lawyers, Poets, activists and police officers, addressed them. Guest speakers were stunned about the questions they received from the women participants. The 85-year-old Nambudri Brahmin orthodox woman Shrimathi Kamakshamma, who is mother of Chairman AWARE, inaugurated the convention. She congratulated women for their efforts to liberate themselves from oppression and society discrimination. She advised them during the course of their struggle, they should not forget families and their responsibilities. Last day Ambassador of the Netherlands Mrs. Schoo gave valedictory speech.
In the Rural Women convention they passed various resolutions demanding rights to own property, equal share of hereditary property, widow pension, law against women beating, law to ban liquor, money lending, mid day meals for school children lady doctor in every villages, equal wage etc., such conventions took place in 1989, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2006.
{gallery}gallery/gender_justice/002{/gallery}  Since 1987, all the financial assistance was given to men only on the recommendation of the woman of the house. From 1992, only woman was eligible to get financial assistance and all men were barred. Out of 8,86,493 economic beneficiary of AWARE, 5,18,261 are women.

Some of the other areas where AWARE helped women are:

Chaitanya Shakti

{gallery}gallery/gender_justice/003{/gallery}Chaitanya Shakti means the ‘awakened power’; the strategy emphasizes that by developing a cadre of women motivators from the target population themselves. AWARE discovered very potential leadership among the women and understood that unless women enter the politics, take up political leadership, occupy the positions they cannot have equality & gender justice.

To achieve this women need knowledge, unity and communication they must be aware of various legislations and governments’ schemes. Therefore women decided that some of them should form a team , acquire the knowledge, tour village by village and motivate people to contest various positions not only in AWARE but also in government local body. They knew the biggest challenge for them is their men, families and responsibilities in the home that may prevent them from emerging as a political leader.

But these women were determined to take up motivational job and  have undergone a special training called ‘Chaitanya Shakti’ and now they are aware of Indian Constitution, Government schemes, Acts like Dowry Act, Reservation for women, land rights, minimum wage, bonded labor abolition etc. Whenever they got time they visited nearby villages and asked women to gather large numbers and discuss about rights and responsibilities, these grassroots dynamic workers created more discussions among women that lead for solidarity and ability to question the government officials and political leaders.

They demanded drinking water from BDO, they got sanction of midday meal for children, they got schools and hostels for girls, they got loans from women cooperation, they confronted with political leaders, MLAs, official including district collector in various forums and demanded abolition of alcohol.  Chaitanya Shakti brigade of 165 members could mobilize 25,000 women into first rural women convention.

This convention banned sanction of any loan to the men without recommendation of their women. In AWARE for about 10 years every man approached their women and got a recommendation letter for sanction of financial assistance. From 1995 all men are prohibited to take loan in AWARE and women became eligible for any financial assistance.

With in 3 years of the formation of Chaitanya Shakti Brigade 2000 women contested elections, conducted by the government and 75% of them won. Now they are Sarpanchas, Members of Panchayat, and self-help group leaders, cooperative members, Mandal Presidents, Zilla Parshad members, MLAs and Members of parliament. One Tribal woman and AWARE workers from Padru Area Ms. Maniaamma became MLA and Minister. Another woman from Bhadrachalam Tribal area Ms. Kamalakumari became a Member of Parliament and Minister in Central Cabinet.

"I will far rather see the race of man extinct than that, we should become less than beasts, by making noblest of God’s creation the object of our lust.  I am uncompromising in matter of women’s rights.  In my opinion she should labor under no legal disability, not suffered by man.  I should treat the daughters and sons on a footing of perfect equality."

- Mahatma Gandhi

Seed that are sworn in early 1980s grown into moment of women and government itself now provides reservation for women in various political systems.

Alcohol and Women

De-addiction is a prime target of AWARE's work. The entire culture of AWARE, from the chairperson down to the community worker, is ascetically wedded to the Gandhian stance against drinking. Liquor has been the bane of Indian life, especially so for the Tribals and Harijans. It has robbed them of their lands and pushed them into the clutches of the moneylenders. It has made men behave worse than animals in inflicting brutalities on women and children.

"If I were appointed the dictator of India for one hour only, the first thing I will do would be, to close without compensation all the liquor shops of India"  - Gandhiji

AWARE has used women and children prohibition in the villages. They serve as vigilantes and monitors.  It was a queer system of wage distribution that Dr.Madhavan saw in Narsapur villages of Medak district a few years ago- two kilos jowar and two bottles of liquor toddy or arrack, for a day’s hard toil in the field. The poor Harijan gratefully accepted them, went home, and drank away his pain and sorrow.

A landlord told Dr.Madhavan, ‘if I do not give liquor, their Goddesses will be angry with me’. Therefore as a tradition, custom and culture landlord introduced the liquor to rob his dignity, health and prosperity and they will be his slave forever.

The system had to be ended but Dr. Madhavan knew that the lure of the spirits was too strong for the labourers to resist. While educating the people through posters and word of mouth about the hazards of drinking, he also made it known the AWARE would give loans only to non-alcoholics.

No one received financial help from AWARE, unless he produces a certificate/ letter from wife that he does not drink or stoped drinking liquor. This worked well. For the sake of loan, support, many, many men stopped consumption of liquor. They became not only models but good motivators to others. “Liquor & Development do not go together”, Dr. Madhavan advocated.

The result of this persuasive tactics, backed by friendly coercion, has been astounding. There is a kind of ‘voluntary prohibition’ about 1,500 villages where AWARE is active or has been active by 1985. And a few years later, women started village after village raided the local liquor shops and destroyed all the stock. Movement against liquor spread like a wild fire. Demonstrations were held, Rallies were conducted, and Mahasabha was called to prohibit liquor.

Sale of liquor was considerably reduced so, the Government Licentiate Liquor Shop owner announced ‘one bottle you buy one bottle you get free’ ‘drink now, pay later’ offers. However strong Chaitanya Shakti special women Brigade attacked them and threw out them from villages and streets.

Some newspapers wrote articles against AWARE stating that they are running parallel government. Liquor lobby did all their best to attack AWARE but nothing stopped Anti-liquor movement of Harijans and Tribals. Ultimately, Late Sri N T Rama Rao the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh totally banned alcohol but sadly after his death his own son in law who took over as Chief Minister brought back liquor in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

On revenue obtained by Govt. of Sale of Liquir Gandhiji Said -

"… It is criminal to spend the income from the sale of intoxicants on the education of the nation’s children or other public services.  The government must overcome the temptation of using such revenue for nation-building purposes.  Experience has shown that the moral and physical gain of the abstainer more than makes up for the loss of this tainted revenue.  If we eradicate the evil, we will easility find other ways and means of increasing the nation’s income."
(Mahatma Gandhi. Harijan. 21 September 1947

By 1990, more than 3000 villages had stopped alcohol consumption. The economic and psychological advantages from not drinking are sworn to, most vociferously, by the women who see a distinct upgrading in their status as one of the key outcomes of de-addiction. This is one of the very significant achievements of AWARE.

Unwed Mothers

Dr.Madhavan often in a lighter way said “residue of the development are deceit, damage and disease”. In number of the Tribal areas, the non-Tribal merchants, civil contractors, lower officials visit and do their business; the merchant may be buying and selling the good; contractors constructing bridges and roads and officials for administration of scheduled area. Most of them stay in Tribal villages during their work. They never bring their wife’s but they develop illicit – relationship with local Tribal innocent girls.

The innocent Tribal girls not aware of the cunningness of non- Tribal men and they are lured for small gifts, food, sometimes clothes. These girls unfortunately become concubines of the non-Tribal men; they are given a false promise of marriage. In fact, such Non-Tribal men are using the girls for pleasure. Most of the Tribal girls become pregnant and give birth to children.

There are instances these girls got two or more children yet not married. Once these girls developed intimacy and started living with non-Tribals, the Tribal community keeps them away. A Tribal man never marries her. Once these men finish their work and transfer to a new place, these women are left in lurch not accepted by the community. They become unwed mothers and live a mean life amidst of other Tribal women.

When such instances were brought to the notice of Dr.Madhavan he ordered an enquiry and a quick survey in Badrachalam Kunavaram, Vara Ramachandrapuram areas and especially in Chinttor and Chatti villages of Khammam District.

In 1987, AWARE survey found 1200 unwed mothers. Most of these women were deserted and isolated by the village communities, some of them are starving with children, many of them are not aware of the background of the men who cheated them. Immediately, AWARE has provided economic assistance to these women for purchase of milch animals, goats, backyard poultry etc. AWARE succeeded initially in more economic rehabilitation.

AWARE encouraged Tribal communities to take them back to their society and some sixteen of them were remarried to the Tribals. Then the AWARE lawyers, bare foot legal workers, social investigators had scanned many areas and could locate and identify over 187 men who cheated Tribal women. They were caught, threatened with legal action. These men were brought back to the Tribal villages and made them to marry the girls whom they cheated or provide maintenance allowance.

Many of the non-Tribals migrate into Tribals areas, marries Tribals girls, buy the land in the name of the Tribal girls and own and enjoy the property. His first wife will be living in the same house, the second wife- the Tribal girl, not aware of the lands accumulated by the non-Tribal husband, in her name, serves him simply as his second wife, but actually works as a maid in the home of the non-Tribal.

The work done by AWARE has attracted the attention of the Tribal welfare department and it has launched a propaganda drive against this custom. Sadly, in every village we can see many Tribal women deceived by non-Tribals. AWARE continued its efforts to stop it and its legal department often either settled out of court or forced them to legally marry.

Chaitanya Nidhi

In the first stage of the organizations as the strategy for empowerment, only awareness generation is undertaken, but once the women are sufficiently motivated to undertake economic activities for incremental income generation AWARE provided them with interest free loans. However, to make them self reliant, they are encouraged to from groups of 50 to make a unit for loans advances.

While ‘Chaitanya Shakti’ addresses the socio-psychological dimension of motivation for betterment, ‘Chaitanya Nidhi’ concentrates on the economic dimension of development.

Chaitanya Nidhi is a contributory self-help scheme in which AWARE advances an interest-free loan to match the resources raised by the women themselves first. Each woman contributes ` 5 per week to a common pool, thus making a total of  Rs.250 in the unit. This amount is matched with an advance of  Rs.250 from AWARE to make a corpus of  Rs.500. Out of this Rs.50 is put away as group savings and the remaining of Rs.450 is given as a loan to a deserving member of the group in rotation (by drawing lots or by consensus, if there is a member of the group whose need clearly takes priority).

The money is used for buying a goat or a buffalo, or for setting up a small shop or for any other income generating activity. The woman who takes the loan returns 1st following week, while the rest of the group continues to contribute Rs.5 per head.

Each woman thus gets an advance and the cycle repeats to make it a revolving fund. Introduced in March 1989, the Chaitanya Nidhi scheme generated an amazing amount – Rs.15 million with a membership of 37,500 women within the first year itself. Although each woman contributed only Rs.5 a week, they were together able to raise nearly one million rupees in just nine months, an amount that would have been unthinkable had the women not banded together and pooled their resources. At the end of the year, each woman also had savings of ` 65 to her credit, besides enjoying an interest- free loan of Rs.450, which she could use for income generation.

Each beneficiary is free to decide the use of loan amount but there is a strong in-built responsibility and accountability in ensuring that the money is not frittered away on unviable schemes, because first the group is collectively responsible for the timely repayment of installments and therefore acts as a check and sufficiently motivated them to make it a success.

Within the first two years itself, the scheme had covered 100,000 indigent women in Andhra Pradesh, all subsistence level earners. The uniqueness of the entire exercise is that it is a participatory one rather than grant or charity. Before this scheme was started, the women used to turn to moneylenders or their landlords for advances, paying exorbitant interest rates (60 to 120 %). Unable to repay the loan amount, because the interest payments alone ate up their ability to repay, many of them ended up becoming bonded labourers.

The Chaitanya Nidhi scheme became so popular that the men also began to clamor for a similar scheme. In response to their demands , AWARE has now started an ‘Akshaya Nidhi ‘ scheme for landless poor males, with effect from 1990, the men have organized themselves for a Rs.1000 loan scheme under which each man contributes Rs.10 per week. However, men scheme did go further, because they were impatient and not sincere like women.

"We talk of evaluation, political and economic and yet the greatest evaluation in the country is one that effect the status and living conditions of women." - Jawaharlal Nehru

Chaitanya Nidhi not only survived but grown into People’s Banking Movement, then AWARE Mutually Aid Co operative Society  (AWARE MACS LTD –AML-Pragathi)  for women and a well organized Micro Finance Scheme called Pragathi. This ‘Pragathi’ program is assisting more than 80,000 women in a year for their economical progress empowering them with decision making situation. Within three years Pragathi program will cover 5,00,000 women in Andhra Pradesh. It is also planning to expand to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Orissa in next two years.

AWARE learnt its experience and lessons from women. Mahatma Gandhi said, “I am un-compromising in the matters of women’s rights. In my opinion, she should labour under no legal disability, not suffered by man. I should treat the daughters and sons on a footing of perfect equality”. “The economical and moral salvation of India thus rest mainly on women, the future of India lies on your knees, for you will nurture the future generation”  AWARE follows Gandhiji’s direction to achieve gender equality and justice.