Who We are

1984 – 1986 : The Beginning

1984 – 1986 : The Beginning

Stan & Mari come to Gudalur Stan & Mari arrived at Gudalur in 1984 to work on the Paniya farm at Kayunni and were exposed to the various ways in which the tribals of Gudalur were cheated of their rights and subject to daily humiliation.  An incident that struck a chord in them was the subtle ostracisation one young Paniya women faced as she sat down on a seat in a public bus. Their experiences convinced them to start ACCORD in November, 1985 along with K T Subramaniam, a Mullakurumba youngster from the nearby…

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1986 – Hope in a medicine chest

1986 – Hope in a medicine chest

1986 also saw the beginning of our health care programme, spurred by three maternal mortalities that could have been prevented with simple interventions. As luck would have it, we were blessed with 3 professionals from the medical field, Drs. Roopa and Deva as well as Ms. Sujatha D’Magry.  Together they trained the first group of community health care workers from women selected from within the community. If planting tea changed the way society viewed them, then their role as medical professionals completely transformed it. Suddenly, people were looking up to them with respect as supported by Deva & Rupa, they went about their task of demystifying medicine. In the meanwhile, more youngsters continued to join our team. Designated as “Animators”, they were responsible for inspiring the community to join the movement. Go to Our Story Go to Previous Timeline                                                                              Go to Next Timeline    

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1986 – 1998: Phase I

1986 – 1998: Phase I

The Season of Tea In 1986, ACCORD supported in the planting the first adivasi tea in Thirkapetta, Ayankolly with volunteer French students on land that had been partly repossessed by the tribals. Not a single local person thought Paniyas were capable of planting tea. They scoffed at the very idea. The adivasis were equally doubtful. We chose tea, because it was part of the mainstream economy, well supported by the government and could also, in time, act as proof of possession of land. We had one more key reason for selecting tea despite our environmental concerns.  Tea was a status symbol. Our aim was to elevate the Adivasis from mere local labour, to become tea planters. It certainly changed their position in society. It was the ideal crop for people who were handling money for the first time. If they needed money, they could pick a bit of tea and sell it, earning enough for that night’s meal. Also, it made…

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1988 – Cheenum, Thudi & other manifestations of Adivasi Culture

1988 – Cheenum, Thudi & other manifestations of  Adivasi Culture

The first Adivasi festival was held on January 1988, a heady success which gave the team a huge lift.  We produced a film called ‘Today, we dance for ourselves.’ This was followed by an intensive drive for awareness about the land alienation which was taking place at a devastating pace.  A small drama troupe was created to go from village to village, encouraging discussion about the land question. The troupe played an important role in the events that were about to unfold. MK Ravi, Surendran from Ayankolli. Sadanand, Anandan from Kappala, Veramanga Gopalan, all were part of this small but dedicated team. Go to Our Story Go to Previous Timeline                                                                              Go to…

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1988- Land to the First People & the Birth of AMS

1988- Land to the First People & the Birth of AMS

Once we began our work mobilising the community, the animators took to it like ducks to water and soon, “sangams “ started coming up in tribal villages all across Gudalur, often without any  intervention from us. It was decided that we would stage a public demonstration, as a sign of our unity and strength and to present the government with a list of demands. Thus was held a massive demonstration on Dec 5th, 1988, in which 10, 000 Adivasis came together, at the end of which we launched Adivasi Munnetra Sangam (AMS). Go to Our Story Go to Previous Timeline                                                   …

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1989 – Right to justice

1989 – Right to justice

Our attempts to take back lost land continued in full swing.  Bettakurumbas and Kattunaickens reclaimed land their ancestors had been cheated of in Chembakolly. They parked there in the cold wet monsoon, braving elephant, boar, leopard and bear attacks in makeshift centres. To help consolidate their claims they planted coffee, tea and pepper. This was the first major land reclamation and a historic victory. It was no easy task though and repossession often led to conflict with government officials. Requests poured in for help with false cases lodged against Adivasis. ACCORD, which had taked about basic rights in the beginning itself, stepped up legal aid classes. People from every area came to the ACCORD office, often camping for 2 or 3 days and were taught their rights by a lawyer. It was drummed into people that they could not be arrested…

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1989 – Housing & More

1989 – Housing & More

ACCORD has, in many ways, been blessed with the service of visionary people in every field. Housing was no different.   While we have always known the need for better housing in the villages, especially with access and availability of bamboo and thatch decreasing, we never really had a vision for it beyond thinking of it as a roof and walls. All of that would change with the arrival of young architects, Anu and Krishna, from Gudalur. The first housing project was in Kozhikolly village, Devala headed by Cauvery Bopaiah, followed by the housing project at Veramanga by Krishna, all leading up to the project at Kottaimeedu village in Devershola in 2016. Education also had its beginning this year with the first balwadi  (elementary child education center) being started this year at Kottamangalm by Jacintha Vincent along with Kalyani and Theyakunnu Meenakshi. Go…

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1990 to 1994 – A hospital for us, for our livestock too

1990 to 1994 –  A hospital for us, for our livestock too

The need for a hospital had slowly started manifesting among the community. Slowly but surely, patients were beginning to land up in our office. As has always been the case, some benevolent entity high above heard our call and gifted us with Dr. Nandakumar and Dr. Shyla who, along with Roopa, Deva…

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1995 –1998 : Mahasabha, Self Reliance & ATP

1995 –1998 :  Mahasabha, Self Reliance & ATP

The plan for ACCORD had always been to pull out in 10 years and try and ensure that within that time, the community be enabled and empowered to ensure their needs and access their rights. Accordingly in 1995, more than 1000 members from the community got together over a period of few days and discussed the future of the movement. This meeting led to the continuation of ACCORD and the need was put forth to have a fully functional Adivasi Hospital as well as a school. Vidyodaya school, set up by Ramdas and Rama, to cater to the needs of the children of the  staff at the institutions was immediately opened up to the Adivasi children and handed over to AMS and work began on…

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1999 – 2005: ATLM and More

1999 – 2005: ATLM and More

More than a 1000 Adivasi families had become tea growers through the dedicated efforts of AMS & ACCORD. However, we came to understand that they were being systematically cheated in the sale of their produce and thus was formed the Adivasi Tea Leaf Marketing Society.  Daily produce was collected from all the farmers and sold in bulk to a local tea factory for a fair and remunerative price. Once again, the adage of Unity is Strength was proved. This year also saw an all women Adivasi team visiting Germany. Over this period, the area team, especially the animators settled into their role of empowering and supporting…

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2006 – 2010: Our Forest, Our Right

2006 – 2010: Our Forest, Our Right

In the end of 2006, the landmark Forest Rights Act was passed by the Indian Parliament which finally recognised the right of Adivasis to live in and conserve the forests they have called home for Millennia. Since then one of our most important tasks has been to work with the community in order to ensure that their rights under this act are secured. This work is ongoing and we have made significant inroads into creating better awareness about the provisions of the act not only among the people but also the government officials. Also in 2006, AMS, Social Agency for Women and Development, Bhoodhan Vikas Mandal and Paschim Orissa Krishijibon Samiti came together to formally launch the Just Change India Producer Company. Just Change was based on the idea of small communities selling products to each other at a fair…

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2011 – 2016: New Ventures, New Challenges & The Way Ahead

2011 – 2016: New Ventures, New Challenges & The Way Ahead

The year 2013 saw the revival of Ecoscape, a responsible tourism venture located in Madhuvana Estate and supported by the Adivasi community of Gudalur. All proceeds from the enterprise are fed back into the community. This is meant to act as one of the pillars of our journey towards Financial Self Reliance. http://www.ecoscape.co.in/ PLENTI is another project aimed…

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