Founder - Chairman


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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
Human Rights & Legal justice


AWARE always believed that for any development process the fundamental need is “Protection and Promotion of Human Rights”, this is a part of Social Action program.  Unless people are aware of the law that protects them, the impediments, the justice, and develop capacity to remove such impediments the development is not complete. More powerful, exploitative group within the society always drains the fruits of development. 

First step for understanding rights and responsibilities were explained through legal literacy training programs. Training programs were conducted for a group of villages, where lawyers, local magistrates, police officials were invited to speak on laws of untouchability, minimum wage, equal wage, land legislations,  irrigation tank bed land rights, child labour Act, bonded labourers Act , money lending act, 20 point program of Government of India, Rights on minor forest produce by Tribal’s, prevention of Atrocities on Harijans and Tribal’s Act etc. Participants are encouraged to interact with speakers relating to their village situation. Normally people are afraid of police, but when police inspector attends training camps, they developed courage to question him. Dialogues started between poor and officials implementing protective legislations.

Many other mediums were used for dissemination of information like:

  • Wallpapers / Wall Newspapers with pictures to explain to public about the nature of laws and its implications if violated.
  • Hand bills/Booklets were printed, published and distributed in various legislations in people’s language.
  • Conducting Maha sabhas to create awareness of laws to all sections of common man.
  • Publication of Law journal in Telugu local language called “Nyaya Kiranam (Ray of Legislation)”.
  • Cultural groups enacted small plays in the village main square to educate people about abolition of Bonded Labour, Minimum wage, abolition of untouchability, prevention of atrocities on women and weaker sections, money lending prohibition etc.
  • Nithi Melas are periodic public hearing meetings where normally magistrates, lawyers’, police officials are invited and victims are encouraged to give petitions or explain in person the injustice inflicted on them.
  • Barefoot legal workers (BFLW) trained by AWARE with minimum knowledge of various legislations with road maps to address such problems.
  • Social Investigators: Since majority of Barefoot legal workers are illiterates, AWARE trained Social Investigators (S.I) to help them. These S.I are semi literates from the local areas. They were trained to identify records and lead the victim and BFLW to concerned authorities like BDO MRO Tahasildar etc.
  • Free Legal Services by about 22 lawyers who worked full time visiting villages regularly, conducting legal literacy camps, examining cases, providing free legal assistance, out of court settlements, and inviting Magistrates and Judges to resolve the cases.
  • Demonstrations and Rallies conducted on common local legal issues. Hundreds of people walk with placards, banners, drums, musical instruments, slogans, and walk through main villages, even nearby towns demanding justice.
Some of the related areas where AWARE worked are Untouchability, Bonded Labour System, Ensuring Minimum Wage, Land rights, Tribal Land Transfer Regulation, Atrocities on Tribals and Harijans.


"I would rather feel that Hinduism died than that untouchability live. I will resist it with my life. Without the removal of this taint, Swaraj is meaningless term"
– Mahatma Gandhi.

AWARE noted that there is a strong practice of untouchability in the villages. This practice is illegal and criminal as per the constitution of India. Harijans are worst victim of this discrimination. In whole of Gandhiji’s life he fought against untouchability, the Indian National Congress during its struggle for freedom maintained that top Agenda is removal of practice of untouchability. This was practiced to the core particularly in Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh.

All political parties were always led by an upper caste leader who never gave importance for removal of this social discrimination whether it is a congress party or communist party, the Harijans and Tribal’s were always in lowest cadre and they were always serving their leadership and the party.

AWARE observed that there is untouchability practice between not only Tribal’s and Harijans but within Harijans Mala – Madigas. This became a biggest challenge for AWARE. However AWARE continuously explained to these two communities stating that this practice is not only unconstitutional, illegal, criminal but also a conspiracy to constantly divide the poor and thus weaken them. Though this message is effective, the Harijans and Tribal’s are somehow reluctant to sit together. Therefore, Dr.Madhavan started introducing community Lunch, training camps in the villages and Harijans and Tribal’s were motivated to sit together and have their lunch. In order the cement their relationship Dr. Madhavan and AWARE workers used to sit along with them to have lunch.

At Apex training in HRD Centre of Bhagwatipuram, integration of these communities were not a problem but in the villages the participants of the training program initially expressed their reservation to sit together for lunch fearing consequences that will be in their respective villages; the continuous training programs and Maha sabhas in various villages where community lunch became part of the program slowly brought these two communities together. It was better with men and very difficult with women who often refused to sit together, eat together with other communities, when persuasion failed, a threat was issued that they will be expelled from village association. Men and youth quickly integrated while women members took long time to re-adjust with other communities.

The next challenge is bringing Harijans into the main stream but landlords and forward caste people did not agree to it. Then AWARE displayed wall posters explaining untouchability as against constitution and illegal. The AWARE training camps were shifted from Harijan streets and Tribal villages, to the centre of the main village.

The guest speakers from higher communities like officials were served food along with Tribals and Harijans. The local Sarpanch ( head of Panchayat) who was normally from a forward community were also invited and served the food along with Harijans , Tribals and guest speakers, such practice of eating together in public drawn many community people to see the strength of the legislation, and made other communities to think and loosen their attitude to rigid belief of untouchability.

Then Dr.Madhavan introduced a program called “Worship our God by ourselves (means Let us worship ourselves and no priests are needed)” , Harijans were made to take bath in public to give a message that they are clean; there were asked to wear washed clothes; then they went in procession along with Dr. Madhavan and AWARE workers to the temples and demanded entry. For such rallies the local MLA and political leaders were invited to join, police protection was asked so that no physical violence takes place. When 200 Harijans supported by 200 Tribal’s marched into temple where Dr.Madhavan gave a speech on abolition of untouchability, oneness of God, Hindu Religion’s universalness quoting often Vedas and Upanishad principles and Gandhiji’s vision of casteless society; maintenance of hygiene and development of devotion. He also explained that the practice of untouchability is against the law and attracts imprisonment. After this speech is over the crowd entered the temple amidst of landlords, forward community people and police protection. Initially the priest refuse to do rituals then Dr.Madhavan himself conducted the rituals replacing the priest, the Harijans after the ritualistic prayer sit around and sing devotional songs, that is followed by community lunch.

AWARE workers in other villages repeated this system and program, such temple entry programs attracted more and more Harijans and tribals and it became a movement. One temple after another, Harijans entered by force explaining about the law and their right to enter the temple and worship the God. In three years time all the temples in village where AWARE is working were entered by the Harijans and later on the temple door were opened for all the communities.

In most of the main villages, Harijans were not allowed to draw water from public wells because of untouchability issue. AWARE realized the only solution is again arranging a mass demonstration and drawing the water by Harijans from public drinking water wells. Often 50 to 100 women marched to the main well with intimation to Sarpanch, village official and police. It was not easy as in such clashes, women of both communities fought. AWARE worker explained the law on untouchability to everyone and asked police to ensure the peace and right to draw water by Harijan women.

Initially there were clashes, but on insistence of political leader’s presence in such situation, the local leaders slowly yielded and advised other community people not to create clashes as this is against law. In period of about 3 to 5 years, harijan women were allowed to draw water from all the public wells of the villages.

Bonded Labor System

Poverty leading to utter dependency breeds a strange state of fatalism and poor tend to and are made to think that men are born unequal and there is no way out of the poverty traps. The bonded labour caught in the debt trap struggles for survival with no hopes of future, but carries over the burden of slavery to his next generation. It is inhuman, but still it exists and people fight to maintain it. This is visible in Telangana region that was predominantly feudalistic but is also practiced in other parts in subtle way.

Money lending is very much prevalent in the villages, the money lenders are normally landlords, local merchants. In the absence of banking system in villages the poor tribals and harijans do not have any choice except to go to money lender for finance for needs like medical treatment or a marriage or a house repair or agriculture, purchase of food and consumption, for buying clothes and celebrating a festival. Always poor Tribals and Harijans are indebted to the local landlord.

An incident narrated below gives bird’s eye view of the situation:

“In the early days of research Dr. Madhavan used to always go to landlords’ house for lunch. Many of the landlords felt happy to give hospitality to him because of his background. One of the discussions with landlord Dr. Madhavan learnt that landlord give money to most of the poor people as a loan, which 90 % of them did not repay. When questioned about the rate of interest casually, landlord informed he collect interest at rate of ` 10 per week. When returned home at Hyderabad and glanced through his notes Dr.Madhavan realized with a horror that the annual interest rate is 520% per annum, when a poor man takes 100 rupees loan he has to replay 650 rupees at the end of the year. He reconfirmed with landlord but the landlord never feels guilty and admitted of this interest rate but explained that none of the loan is ever paid in full or account settled. Very often accumulated interest became the principle in the next year and interest over interest is tradition”.

To pay a part of the loan and interest, the poor man sells away his wife’s gold then he sells away vessels, a goat, or a cow, and at last he surrenders his small piece of land. When nothing is left to surrender towards loan and principle, he pledges his labour to the landlord and become a bonded labourer. Here again, annual wage is much less than loan and interest put together. Throughout the life the bonded labourer work for the landlord unable to pay the loan and interest when he becomes weak, he hand over his son to continue to work as bonded labourer and generations is bonded to landlord who gets very cheap and assured labourer. This is called “Vetti Chakiri”, more than 50% of Harijans were bonded labors, but among the Tribals the percentage of bonded labors is less than 20% as the main reason is proximity of Tribals to the landlords is more. Tribals do not fully depend upon landlord but depend upon forest. Their expenses in liquor when compared to Harijans are less as tribals brew their liquor. The Harijans are encouraged to consume alcohol in some of the villages as landlords pay the wage in the form of liquor.

“Bonded labour which is a modern euphemism for slavery, is an integral a part of Andhra Pradesh as nature’s ravages. Today Andhra Pradesh, is home to cover 3,50,000 bonded labourers. A survey carried out by the Gandhi Peace Foundation pointed to the existence of 3.5 to 5 million bonded labourers in India. 86% of them were estimated to belong to scheduled caste and Tribals. 75% of them were bandaged because of indebtedness and 19% are carrying the debts incurred by their forefather and 25% of them are below 20 years of age”.

It was in 1976 Dr.Madhavan was addressing a village association meeting around noon at Maddulapalli of Khammam District. He  was surprised to see only women and children and some old people sitting around in the meeting. He asked people what happened to their men, the answer came quickly that their men were not allowed to attend the meeting. Next question was who prevented and why, the women explained that all their men are bonded labourers. The landlord knowing the effect of the Madhavan’s speech asked their debt slaves not to attend the meeting.

Dr.Madhavan was taken a back with this and learnt the details of bonded labour system, law rural indebtedness, Wage Act etc. He found that the bonded labour system is abolished in the same year and decided to lead the mass legal awakening program, he appealed to the landlords to be humane and release all their debt slaves. It did not yield any result, so in village association the bonded labour abolition act was explained, but bonded labourers do not have courage to revolt against landlord and liberate themselves. Then that responsibility was taken over by the village association and mahila mandali to negotiate with the landlord.

The wall newspapers on abolition of bonded labourers was printed and pasted in all villages. Hand bills explained that the law was distributed extensively, the cultural troops enacted drama and plays explaining the law and those people who still keep bonded labourers are punished by imprisonment was the theme of the cultural troop. Song and drama troops visited village after village and conducted dramas and songs to educate the public. Audio visual aids like slide projector was screened in the village square. The cultural message conveyed that bonded labour system is inhumane, illegal and appeals to the landlords to liberate their bonded labourers.

The dissemination of the knowledge is viewed as a psychological weapon not just to instill confidence among the bonded labourers and other socio-economically weaker groups but also as a tool to intimidate the landlords exploiting the poor and from practicing the bonded labour.
The system of operation by AWARE followed as indicated below:
  • The bonded labour is encouraged to abstain from working for the landlord to whom he is pledge as bonded labour.
  • The entire village community agrees to support the bonded labour.
  • As an immediate need AWARE provided some food materials like rice towards living expense to such bonded labourers.
  • An appeal is then made to landlord to release bonded labour, however only 10 to 15% of the landlords agrees to liberate them unconditionally. When persuasion fails, the office bearers of the village association together with the bonded labourers presented a petition to the Magistrate for release. More often than not, the enquiry by the Magistrate is sculpted by the village functionaries.
  • Meanwhile in cooperation of the village association, AWARE rehabilitates self-liberated bonded labourer assuring alternative means of livelihood.
  • When the government helps the village, the government aid for their rehabilitation is sort.
AWARE both by state government and Supreme Court. Dr.Madhavan himself was appointed thrice by the Supreme Court of India as commissioner to probe into existence of bonded labour system, the state government appointed all the workers of AWARE as members of vigilance committee at various levels.

AWAREs efforts along with community, judiciary and top bureaucrat support has liberated almost 50,000 bonded labors and among but a small step toward the goal.

AWARE’s success in getting even these people freed seems nothing short of miracle. Accolades have followed and due to AWARE efforts 32,254 bonded labourers are totally rehabIn the first year alone, AWARE could release and rehabilitate 9,216 bonded labourers. This is a significant achievement  recognition has been given to ilitated.

AWARE wish to reproduce direction of Noble Laureate Vishva Kavi Rabindranath Tagore and dedicate our efforts with regards to bonded labour in his memory.

                                               LET MY COUNTRY AWAKE

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by
Thee into ever-widening thought and action-
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let My country awake

-    Rabindranath Tagore from “Gitanjali”

Ensuring Minimum Wage

Though minimum wage act do exist, 90% of the agricultural wage earner is not aware of it. The landless poor who are totally depending upon mercy of the landlords do not have capacity to negotiate for the wage, they are indirectly enslaved to a particular landlord and work year after year without questioning the wage. 40% of the agricultures labourer are landless poor , AWARE survey indicated that an average income of landless poor with 5 incumbents totals ` 365 per annum – a mere ` 1 per day which is far below the minimal cost of living(1975-1977). Also the women labourers were discriminated and paid considerably less wage than the male workers. 

AWARE as usual encouraged agricultural labourers to get better acquainted with provisions of Minimum Wage Act, Equal Wage Act Land Rights, Forest Rights, etc., through legal training camps. Slowly when awareness spreads, it leads to a well-articulated demand that was strong and legitimated enough to lead a revised wage.

Again, the methods of dialogue with the landlord in support of the community failed, the agricultural labourers struck the work together strongly. Accomplishments such as these are not to be underrated in the psychological, quite apart from their material significance. It helped to demonstrate to the vulnerable of their strengths.

AWARE demonstrated it is not the material input but knowledge is the key to resurgence. It has used knowledge consistently as a principle medium of change. Being aware of their own socio-economic and legal rights, the Tribal’s and Harijans are coming into their own. They lead mass protests for issue of molestations, bonded labour, assault, or the exploitation. The government functionaries, police, landlords and politicians are also conscious of the fact that the people are aware of their rights.

Land Rights

In rural economy, land is a major source of income, owning the land prevents migration. Unfortunately, most of the better yielding land is in the hands of the landlords. They could create irrigation, they could hold animal husbandry  and naturally they get all government benefits. While year-by-year land is increased to the landlord, the poor in the village looses land for his in-debtness and joins to the ranks of landless poor.

Therefore AWARE encouraged that people should own at least a small piece of land but most of their lands were illegally under the occupation of powerful landlords. Reclaiming this land is big challenge. Dialogue demand, demonstration applying the law is the only means of recovering their own land, a survey carried out revealed that nearly 60 % tribal lands were occupied by non-tribal.

AWARE took responsibility to help the Tribals to repossess their land. Unmindful of the intimidating tactics, AWARE launched a well thought out and concerted campaign against the illegal occupation of land justly belonging to the Tribals. This entailed organizing Tribal Maha sabhas, and mass rallies, and offering legal assistance. As a result, since 1976, over 60,000 acres of land have been restored to the Tribals and Harijans that was lost through unfair and illegal transactions.

Since these people are not aware of the tenancy act that confers land rights on a long standing tenant such discovery led to take over more than 3000 acres of the poor men’s land. People developed confidence  and they confronted landlords and village revenue officials and reclaimed their land. Where there was a clash they approached District Collector for intervention, with legal service from AWARE. In most of the villages Harijans took back their lost land. In many Tribal villages, the migrant non-tribals were driven out with help of government officials though there were confrontation and mild clashes.

As per the law the tank bed lands automatically belongs to Harijan where he can raise crop for one year during summer. The tank bed lands are always rich without much investment and good crop can be grown. Incidentally, 99% of such lands are under portion of the landlord so Harijans decided to take over such lands. They did not hesitate to occupy the land even if there is a crop already raised by landlord. When Harijans started occupying the land, in the name of law and order, the landlords used the police to arrest the Harijans and prevent them physically.

Then village associations decided that the Harijan and Tribal women would march forward and physically take over the land, plough the land, and sow the seeds. When large number of women did this, police became helpless as in villages there are no women police; normally men do not touch the women. Therefore, the local police failed to prevent women in occupying their own land. The police was very cautious in view of the Supreme Courts connection with Dr.Madhavan. Village after village tank bed lands were taken over by Harijans with communities support spearheaded by women.

Tribal Land Transfer Regulation ( L T R of 1970)

There is a large number of Tribal population living in Andhra Pradesh called as scheduled area. As per the constitution of India, the Tribal land Protection system all the scheduled area belongs to Tribals and  non-tribals can never own the land. However thousands of non-tribals migrated into tribal areas and occupied their lands by various deceitful methods. 62% of the Tribal lands are illegally in the hands of non-Tribal migrants and tribal became a bonded labour in their own land.

It is normally a proverb that “Land owns Tribal. Non-Tribal owns the land”, this system sabotaged Tribal’s prosperity. Therefore in 1970 the Government of Andhra Pradesh brought out a regulation under the name of President of India that land in scheduled area cannot be sold, transferred, purchased and pledged to non-tribal’s by any means. Even if such transactions exist, it becomes automatically null and void. Non-Tribal’s must vacate the land and Tribal’s has right to take over the land. This revolutionary land regulation (Land Transfer Regulation 1 of 1970) did not prevent non-tribal’s occupying tribal lands; and such progressive regulation is not known to Tribal’s.
In 1988, the then Chief Minister late Shri N.T. Rama Rao , unaware of the significance of the Tribal land protection regulation and by the influence of the non-tribal’s, suddenly decided that he is going to repeal the regulation.  He announced it in public, that such law is discriminative and sympathized non-tribal’s. Dr.Madhavan sprang into action. He asked through a public statement to reconsider his decision, mentioning that State Government does not have such power. He quoted Supreme Court judgment that was in favor of the Tribals. Yet there was no reaction from the Chief Minister.

Dr. Madhavan undertook a Padha Yatra (walking village after village) from Gandhinagar Tribal village of Yalandu Taluk in Khammam district to the Chintur Tribal village a distance of about 300 kilometers. He visited 95 Tribal hamlets and villages, conducted meetings and explained existence of Tribal land protective regulation and  State government’s decision to repeal. He explained the repercussion of such action by the government and asked Tribal’s to immediately rise to the occasion and protect their lands. His four months motivational Padha Yatra, village meetings stirred into an unprecedented big Tribal movement. All political parties including communists did not support Dr. Madhavan but Peoples War Group PWG an underground Naxalite group supported him.

In every village, there used to be a protest march; the wall newspapers were pasted and hand bills were distributed; rallies were conducted, mahasabhas were held. By end of the March 1989 Dr.Madhavan led a very big protest demonstration with 2,00,000 Tribals from Palvancha to Kothagudam town. This has shaken non-tribals and they challenged Dr. Madhavan and threatened him with serious consequences.

Simultaneously Dr.Madhavan has written to all the members of the Parliament and  the members of Legislative Assembly, explaining and educating them about the Land Transfer Regulation 1 of 1970. He cautioned upsurge of tribals if the regulation is repealed. Then he wrote an open letter to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh mentioning legal implications , injustice , discrimination and damage that will would take place in the event of repealing such progressive land rights of the Tribal’s., he called it as genocide.

Dr.Madhavan then met Governor of Andhra Pradesh, explained the historical background, socio-political implications of such action by the government, and requested her to intervene and not to accept the State Government’s recommendation.

He also met 165 National leaders, legal experts, intellectuals, and judges and explained them the repercussions and injustice that will befall and create extinction of the Tribal population in Andhra Pradesh. Judges like Justice P.N.Bhagwati , Justice Krishana Iyer, Justice Ranganathi Mishra then wrote letter to Chief Ministers not to attempt such action.

National leader like C. Subramanyam , Ramakrishna Hegde, AB Vajpayee, Jyoti Basu, Achutme Menon , Jinabai Dargi, NC Mehta, Soli Sorabjee wrote to Sri N T Rama Rao and to  Rajiv Gandhi in support of Dr.Madhavan.

Later Mr. N T Rama Rao announced his decision in favor of Tribals, saying he was not aware of the implications that follow his decision of repealing Tribal Land Protection Regulation. It was more of an emotional decision. Mr. N T Rama Rao gives good response to Tribals but some Landlord groups and political groups of the landed community misguided him. However, though he understood the implications and injustice, later part of the period, he did not give an assurance that he will withdraw his statement.

Dr.Madhavan challenged him to contest election from Kalvakurti on this issue.  Mr. N T Rama Rao the most popular actor, highly charismatic leader, and a leader who never tasted a defeat, was defeated in Kalvakurti, sending shock waves all over the State and Country. An unknown person whom Dr.Madhavan put as candidate against him won with 6000 majority. The entire Tribals and Harijans voted against him and his party, this was an eye opener and the decision to repeal Tribal Land Protective Legislation was sent to cold storage and has till now not seen light of the day. Thus about 6,00,000 acres of Tribal land were saved by Tribals appraise, AWAREs effort and Dr.Madhavan struggle.

Atrocities on Harijans and Tribals

Being highly decimation communities of the society Harijans and Tribals were abused and physically beaten by landlords. There women were molested and abused, Tribal’s youths were beaten on false allegations. With a new awakening created by AWARE, all such practices ended. The entire community used to protest, demand for justice, and argue for punishment and even go to the court for justice. There were clashes in Khammam, Krishna, Nellore, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nellore and Warangal districts.

Whenever such incident takes place, the Tribals and Harijans rush in hundreds of numbers and conducted protest march and demand action by the government. Mobilization of such large number and immediate revolt by the people disciplined the other communities, created a fear among them and reduced year by year all such atrocities.

When one such incident took at Nakalpalem in Prakasham district, which brought to the notice of Supreme Court of India, the Honorable Chief Justice of India appointed   Dr.Madhavan as a commissioner to probe into the atrocities on Harijans. His investigative report was highly appreciated by the judges and appropriate actions were initiated against officials and local leaders.

The effect of such human rights and legal literacy activities resulted in seven times attempts on the life of Dr.Madhavan. Despite of such attempts, he never approached police to punish the culprit nor filed any case against the people who attempt to kill him. By 1992, not only the Tribal’s and Harijans but also all those so called enemies venerated him as God Incarnate. Once again, he proved Gandhiji is relevant and non-violence is effective and development is possible by peaceful process.

AWARE always believed that educating oppressor is as important as educating oppressed. In all its agitations it applied Gandhiji’s ideology and was people oriented (not leader oriented), peaceful and non-violent. In five years 1975-1980, AWARE mobilized over one million poor Tribals and Harijans. This silent and peaceful revolution was spreading strongly, effectively and slowly district after district but limited to Tribals and Harijans.