Girijana Deepika: challenges for a people’s organisation in Andhra Pradesh, India (PLA 58)

Journal (part) article
PDF (391.33 KB)
Published: June 2008
Participatory Learning and Action
Product code:G02867
Source publication:
Participatory Learning and Action 58 Towards empowered participation: stories and reflections

Guest editors: Tom Wakeford and Jasber Singh. To read the full table of contents please click on ‘More information’ above.

Neo-liberal reforms set in motion in the 1990s have resulted in a wholesale attack on traditional farming communities in India. Supported by the government, corporations have begun to control food and farming systems, turning indigenous people into passive recipients of a development plan. In 1990 a group of youth from the Adivasi community – the indigenous people of the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh – began to organise themselves. They initiated an organisation called Girijana Deepika. The group has worked towards the creation of a membership-based organisation under the leadership of women, to regain control over their land, their way of life, and their culture, and to build solidarity among the people.

Girijana Deepika adopted two strategies: the first was to revive informal community systems of government – such as the local forum, the Gotti - and to organise people through these traditional forms. This strategy was designed to combat the divisive processes created by the many institutions set up by government development programmes within each village. The second strategy was to regain control of the land and farming resources – through, for instance, community seed banks - thereby enriching people’s livelihoods and challenging the corporatisation of the resources.

Keywords: governance, grassroots participation, gender, community activism, participation.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See:

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