Name of Organization : Grameena Karshaka Karmika Samisti Sakthi, Telangana
I am Kurva Venkateswarulu from Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. I hail from a farmer’s family. In fact, I myself do agriculture, though now with my life as social worker, most of the agriculture work is taken care of my brother and father.
In spite of having a modest family income, my parents helped me finish post graduation. I completed my Masters in Commerce in March 2012. Soon after completion I joined as a sales person in some fertilizer company. I did for few months but being a farmer myself I did not quite like the product I was selling. It was conflicting with my values. I started searching for a livelihood that is more fulfilling and at the same time will also help me eke out a living. I went back to agriculture.
In March 2013 a friend of mine who was then working as Village Social Auditor asked me if I would be interested to do a survey on NREGS in Ghattu mandal of erstwhile Mahabubnagar district (today Ghattu mandal belongs to Jogulamba Gadwal district). Having done NREGS in my own village I readily understood the importance of it and agreed. The survey involved door to door visit of NREGS wage seekers and filling up a comprehensive questionnaire. This survey helped me personally to understand greater details of the Act and also the issues people encounter in working under NREGS. I did the survey for one week and the team who engaged me said that they will analyze the survey and understand the usefulness of it and decide if it has to be continued. I got a call in May 2013 to take the survey forward.
So, I along with a team of two started surveying all 24 gram panchayats in Ghattu mandal. As the survey was progressing we also got involved in working with people’s problems in NREGS. We would take the issues to Mandal offices for redressal. We also put lot of RTI applications to get information. Vivek Srinivasan was supporting our work from Research Unit of Stanford University.
As I continued this work, Stanford University Research Unit decided to implement a voice messaging system in Ghattu wherein information thus recorded will be transmitted as voice message to all the wage seekers via mobile phone. The requirement was that the wage seekers should have their mobile phone numbers registered in our system. This helped the wage seekers greatly because they no longer depended on the whims and fancies of the Field Assistant of Mandal officials for information. They would get all the latest information related to MGNREGS on time and at their doorstep via mobile phone. I was recording at least 2 messages every week and transmitting them. Each message would get broadcasted twice a day to ensure that no one is missing out.
In one village we also experimented with grievance hearing number wherein the wage seeker would give a missed call to a particular number and we would call back in 24 hours to record their grievance and help with redressal.
Now I am expanding these operations to two more mandals in Mahabubnagar district – Damaragidda and Daultabad. Considering the farmer crisis across the country I also decided to organize farmers into cooperatives/producer organizations with the help of Prof. Trilochan Shastry.
I never believed that my journey as a social worker can be this fulfilling. I am looking forward to be able to contribute more.