Deccan Development Society founder PV Sathish passes away at 77
His final rites would be performed on Monday at 10.30 a.m. in Pastapur Village, Sangareddy district
HYDERABAD: P. V. Satheesh, the 77-year-old founder and Executive Director of the Deccan Development Society (DDS), passed away on Sunday morning. He was being treated for a long illness at a private hospital in Hyderabad. His final rites would be performed on Monday at 10.30 a.m. in Pastapur Village, Sangareddy district.
Satheesh, one of India's symbols of civil society activism, championed issues such as agri-biodiversity, food sovereignty, women's empowerment, social justice, local knowledge systems, participatory development, and community media through his Zaheerabad based organisation in rural Telangana. The women's sangam of DDS, with their unwavering commitment to millet production and organic agriculture, paved the way for tangible alternatives to the conventional agricultural paradigm on a countrywide scale. The latest efforts to include millets into the public distribution system owe a lot to DDS's work under his guidance.
Periyapatna Venkatasubbaiah Satheesh was born on June 18, 1945 in Mysore and graduated from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi. He began his career as a journalist. He went on to work for Doordarshan for nearly two decades as a pioneering television producer, producing programmes about rural development and literacy in the then-united Andhra Pradesh. He was a key figure in the historic Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in the 1970s.
Satheesh, along with a few friends, founded the Deccan Development Society in the semi-arid Zaheerabad region in the early 1980s by mobilising poor dalit women in villages for a variety of programmes that addressed hunger, malnutrition, land degradation, biodiversity loss, gender injustice, and social deprivation.
He led the organisation for nearly four decades, guiding it to become a globally known NGO and an inspiring example that has inspired similar millet revival and promotion activities across the country.
PV Satheesh's long-standing work as DDS director resulted in the improved lifestyles of thousands of disadvantaged women across 75 villages in Telangana. He also led several national and international networks, including the Millet Network of India (MINI), South Against Genetic Engineering (SAGE), the AP Coalition in Defense of Diversity, and the South Asian Network for Food, Ecology, and Culture (SANFEC), a five-country South Asian network with over 200 ecological groups.
He formerly served on the board of Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN) in Barcelona, Spain, and on the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) in Brussels, Belgium. He was also recognised with establishing India's first Community Media Trust, a grassroots media centre where non-literate dalit women were trained in filmmaking in order to democratise media spaces, as well as the creation of Sangham Radio, India's first rural, civil society-led community radio station.
He was a tireless worker and NGO leader who stayed true to his convictions and was a compassionate mentor to many young people. He was recently recognised for his lifelong achievements to making millets a people's priority.
His presence would be greatly missed by his friends, family, DDS staff, and thousands of Zaheerabad women farmers. The DDS Board of Directors joins thousands of community members and the greater civil society fraternity in grieving Satheesh's death and wishes to record his tremendous contributions to the organisation and the causes it has advocated. The organisation intends to carry on the DDS's work with the same zeal and dedication.