AID Conference 2018 Day 1
Time Event
8:00 am – 9:00 am Breakfast & Registration
9:00 am – 9:30 am Welcome and Opening Remarks
 Presenter: AID Portland Volunteers
9:30 a.m – 10:50 a.m AID General Body Meeting
 Presenter: AID BoD
11:00 am – 12:30 pm Contours of an Equal & Just Democracy – Legislation and practice in India (abstract)
 Presenter: Aruna Roy
12.30 pm – 1.30 pm Lunch
1:30 pm – 3.00 pm Enabling Deeper Engagement at Grassroots
 Presenter: Aruna, Kamayani and Vineet
3:00 pm – 3:15 pm Skit by Youth
Conference attendees
3:15 pm – 4:45 pm AID Partners Meet : What do partners say? (abstract)
4:45 pm – 5:15 pm Snacks with volunteer introductions
5:15 pm – 6:00 pm Who develops Whom? (abstract) (homework)
 Presenter: Aravinda Pillalmari
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Energising & Strengthening AID through Volunteer Recruitment & Retention
 Presenter: Open Discussion
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Dinner – volunteer introductions
8:00 pm – 9:00 pm Site Visit Reports Presenter: Open Discussion
9:00 pm -10:00 pm AID Connections :
Leveraging the AID Community for Jobs, Partners & Life!
AID Conference 2018 Day 2
Time Event
8:00 am – 9:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am – 10:30 am Development Coordinator Session
Presenter: Somnath & Aravinda
10:45 am – 12:15 pm Journey of the Transgender Movement (abstract)
Presenter: Sumi Das
12:15 pm – 12:30 pm Conference Group Photo Session
12:30 pm – 1:45 pm Lunch
1:45 pm – 2:15 pm AID Nuts & Bolts -Plenary 1 hr
 Presenters: Sri Mirle & EB
2:15 pm – 3:00 pm EB Interactive Session
Presenters: Priti, Sucheta, Rashim, Asti
Presenters: Amrutha, Subha, Naga
3:00 pm – 3:45 pm EB Interactive Session
 Publicizing projects
 Presenters: Aravinda, Amit
Fundraising and Donor Relations
Presenters: Sri, Venkat, Somnath, Naga
3:45 pm – 4:15 pm Snack Break
4:15 pm – 5:15 pm Healthy Gorge Initiative (abstract)
 Presenter: Paul Lindberg
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm Volunteer Multi-facet Engagement in Watershed / Forest rights Projects
 Presenter: Rohit Prajapati (PSS), Somnath, Srinadh
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Dinner
8:00 pm – 9:00 pm Chudaar – Working with government to bring about systemic change in education (abstract)
Presenter: Ravishankar
9:00 pm – 10:30 pm Stage night: AID &
Me and more …
AID Conference 2018 Day 3
Time Event
8:00 am – 9:00 am Breakfast
9:30 am – 11:30 am Panel Discussion with Jeevansaathis and keynote speakers
11:30am onwards Lunch and Goodbyes









Who Develops Whom? (Aravinda)

After all these years in the field, what have we learned?  How can we be better partners in our relationships with NGOs and movements?

When we seek to answer the question, “What is India’s Development?”  who are our guides and fellow travelers? How do we orient ourselves so as to recognize the people who are central to the processes of social change?  How do we respect their dignity and agency when writing and talking about projects? How can we be sensitive to underlying issues and intangibles that are vital for sustainable outcomes?  How do we understand the potential for our own development, and specifically what we have to change in light of the problem that a given project or campaign tries to solve?

Using illustrative examples from AID projects, Aravinda will show why these questions are important and where they can lead us.


Journey of the Transgender Movement (Sumi Das)

 The session will start with Sumi’s personal story and involvement with Transgender movement. The session will then cover the historical perspective on the situation of transgender community in India, political struggles and challenges of transgender movement; collaborations with other groups and movements; current politics of transgender bill and future directions of the movement.
– Missing historical story on mobilization of Hijra community and their negotiation with government of India in early 80s;
– Trans-movement in metro cities, story of transgender community and effeminates living in rural areas and their fight for existence;
– Inception of HIV project in year 2000, followed by the division and disassociation of transgender community in 2010 via a vis with the pulling out of the HIV fund;
– Change in the direction of the movement with the change in government and how the Article 377 got boxed up politically;
– Establishing connection with the Dalit movement and their issues, in order to create a much needed mass movement for transgender community;
– Role and need for trade union, extent of collaboration with the women’s movement and support of Left student organizations;
– Change in perspective towards our work and journey ever since collaboration with AID started;
– Formation of SHGs and starting working with students; and
– Current politics with Transgender Bill. How we can move forward and how the movement has become city centric?

Healthy Gorge Initiative 

Loose collaboration of community partners – healthcare providers, nonprofits, govt agencies, public health, the region’s Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), and we are beginning to engage elected bodies and K-12 education.

Overall goal is to make individuals and the overall community healthier (wide variety of issues, including social determinants, physical health, mental health, dental health, etc.We are working under the premise that what we have done over the past decades is not enough… we are not getting much healthier.

We are also working under the premise that in order to truly address needs in the community, we need to change the paradigm around how these needs are identified.

We are changing processes and creating venues for more authentic community engagement.

Chudar – Working with government to bring about systemic change in education
Studies show that while most children in Tamilnadu are enrolled and attend school, the quality of education is abysmally poor. While bad quality affects all children, it affects those from poorer sections disproportionately. Many of them go to government or aided schools, and end up learning very little and their confidence shaken. Chudar (which in Tamil means light from a flame) was started in 2016 with a vision that each child would acquire the confidence and skills to face the future. Our current focus is on middle school children (classes 6 to 8).
In order to bring about sustainable change in quality, Chudar works with the system in 3 ways:
(a) Program intervention in a small no of government and aided schools
(b) Conducting 1-off training programs for teachers
(c) Part of govt initiative to change the state board curriculum.
This talk will cover our progress in each of these and outline a vision for bringing large-scale change.

What do AID partners say

AID in collaboration with Center Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) had organized a “Conference on Sustainable Development” at Hyderabad in December 2017. The conference was well attended by representatives from about 60 AID partners, 4 AID Jeevan Saathis, 12 AID USA & about 20 AID India vols (Chennai & Hyderabad). We had panel discussions on Agriculture, Education, People’s rights, Health, Environment and Community Empowerment.
The session at AID Conference will present on a brief report by the AID US volunteers who attended and coordinated the sessions. The follow up action items from the conference will be presented for discussion and finalization. An initiative to engage a few resource consultants has been drafted and shared.
Contours of an Equal & Just Democracy – Legislation and practice in IndiaEquality is a stated value for every just and genuinely progressive society. The Indian constituent assembly placed it with liberty and fraternity at the core center of what a nation defined for itself as the Lode Stars of its charter for justice.

Nevertheless Ambedkar as the Chair, and Dr. Radhakrishnan as one of the important members of the Constituent Assembly, expressed concerns and warnings to the nation at midnight on the 14 th of August 1947. The concerns reflected the contradictions, obscurantism and fissures in Indian society which were a continual and daily threat – the oppression by the privileged, unwilling to share power. Equality is about sharing, a value resisted by marauding capitalism and traditional social hierarchies.

In addressing Indian inequality and its challenges, the constitution built in both guarantees to access equality, and provisions to address traditional inequality; both of which remain one of Indian democracy’s greatest challenge.

The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) was created with workers and farmers – and is a non-party peoples’ political organization – a form of mobilization particular to India and a heritage from the Indian movement for national independence. The collective was created 28 years ago, and was born with a struggle and demand for minimum wage payment and peoples control over common lands. It’s motto was : “Nyay Samanta ho Aadhaar, Aise rachenge ham sansaar “..we will create a world with equality and justice. The Sangathan addressed economic and social oppression, as people understood it and deepening the understanding of constitutional principles with people most affected by inequality. The MKSS does not receive foreign or Indian institutional funding and its source has remained “crowd funding”, to use a word from contemporary jargon. MKSS sathies draw the Rajasthan minimum wage ( Rs 6390.00 approximately) every month as honorarium. All campaigns and protests are also funded by people.

Through the MKSS struggles for livelihood, employment, and minimum wages, it became evident that transparency and accountability of systems of governance are vital to access any right. It also became clear that the excuse of lack of resources and denial of economic rights was born out of the unequal distribution and misuse of power, corruption, and a desire to continue with privilege.

It could be said that the spate of rights based legislations passed in the decade between 2004 – 2013 were born out of many people’s struggles and the political systems’ response, enabling people to access basic guarantees –  the Right to Information Act (RTI) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in 2005, The Forests Rights Act, The Domestic Violence Act and many more. It was commonsensical wisdom that created an architecture to dismantle concentrations of non-transparent opaque power . This addressed economic, social and political inequality – and legislated practical and principled entitlement within the constitutionally legal and democratic framework.

The RTI struggle gave legitimacy to questioning power and to push government to become more transparent and accountable. The MGNREGA addressed the poverty born from economic inequality and focused on people’s demand for employment as a right, defining entitlements to contend socio – economic oppression.

The sharing of power through rights based legislations has provoked opposition from many quarters including entrenched political centres, global capital and dominant social groupings. The organised assault worldwide on equality is curious and clever. The rhetoric contradicts reality, getting electoral success but promoting corporate controls.

The centres of unequal power – feudal, communal, class, caste and gender have tried to reinforce or regain control using traditional bias and modern technology. Attacks are also being made on a Constitution which defined these values and provided safeguards to realize them. All the four pillars- legislature, executive, judiciary and media – are being controlled by vested interests. They have reduced India to a “naam ke vaaste” (only in name – a hollowed out) democracy.  Society is being polarized and identity is getting narrower. Policy making is becoming less consultative and being controlled by corporates and lobbyists. Social sector scheme spending and implementation is dismal. Even the most basic freedom – of speech and expression is being curtailed. Minorities, Dalits, women are being targeted.

Multidimensional inequality is challenged by a small but discerning group beginning to ask uncomfortable questions and demanding answers. Ambedkar talked of a life of contradictions. Ultimately these are both personal and political challenges – for you and me enmeshed as we are, in India’s crisscross of contradictions. Millions of Indians continue to question and face the wrath of the system.  

The question we have to ask ourselves is : “are we willing to talk truth to power?”

The MKSS collective represented by Aruna Roy, Vineet Bhambhu