Empowering the Oppressed  -  Grassroots Advocacy Movements in India

Empowering the Oppressed - Grassroots Advocacy Movements in India

Product ID: 6881

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Author: John G Sommer
Publisher: Sage Publications
Year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 206
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0761995730


The core message of this important book is that injustice and oppression cannot be tolerated if the socio-economic and political dynamics in society are to be altered and meaningful development is to occur.

Traditional approaches to development, in India and elsewhere, have not proved equal to the task of ensuring a just society, especially for the most socially, economically and psychologically oppressed people. The unique individuals and groups introduced in this book recognize that a sustainable and qualitative improvement in the lives of the most downtrodden-those battling discrimination by caste, class or gender-can be achieved only when the root causes of their oppression are addressed, not just the symptoms of it. Not only have these leaders and their organizations found strikingly effective and innovative ways by which people may secure their human and civil rights, and realign power relations in society; they have also enabled the marginalized poor to pursue their own interests and their own struggles for justice and equality.

The plight of landless and bonded laborers, women’s self-employment and unionizing, lobbying with government for policies responsive to the needs of the poor, and initiative in advocacy, disaster relief and communal harmony—the range of issues is wide and the scope of this book extensive. A donor’s story is also told to illustrate the relative effectiveness of a different approach to foreign aid. The most important lesson these studies offer is that strength of conviction, courage and the determination to achieve justice at any cost are powerful tools which can overcome most hurdles and lead to lasting change. The methodology varies-from advocacy designed to energize the government to budget analysis and public demonstrations—but the core message of all the initiative described here is that injustice and oppression cannot be tolerated if the socio-economic and political dynamic in society are to be altered and meaningful ‘development’ is to occur.

This important book will be interest to every development practitioner and to students of development studies, sociology and social work. It will also be of interest to policy-makers in both non-governmental and governmental organizations and in national and international funding agencies alike.



Of Pigs and Goats and Human Bondage: A couple’s journey in rural Maharashtra---from supporting traditional development projects to launching an effective empowerment movement

Reclaiming the Human Personality: A understanding of psychological oppression among Dalits informs efforts to fight for their rights against all odds

Trunks of the Banyan: In Support of Women: SEWA---Self-Employed Women’s Association---empowers both urban and rural women through union organizing on state, national and international scales

Struggle in the South: Land to the Landless: Emboldening the landless to gain their legal rights and facilitating social transformation of the rural downtrodden in south India

Power of Knowledge, power of the Purse: A leader in Gujarat demonstrates the powerful impact of budget analysis, beyond that of local organizing, to press for larger investments in improving the lives of tribal people

Variations on the Theme: Varying experiences with advocacy, disaster relief and efforts for communal harmony in the empowerment context

Lessons Learned: Movement leaders reflect on their various experiences and offer conclusions on how to be most effective in empowering the oppressed

Implications for donors: Insights from the unique ‘foreign aid’ approach of the Unitarian-Universalist Holden India Program

Concluding Thoughts
Appendix 1: Organizational Profiles
Appendix 2: Participant Groups in ‘Lessons Learned’ Meeting

About the Author