Medak District

Medak district is one of the most backward districts of Andhra Pradesh characterized by low literacy and high incidence of poverty.

Agriculture is the major source of livelihood and economy in the district engaging more than 80% of the main workers. Only one fifth (22.8%) of the cropped area is irrigated.

Only source of irrigation being from less assured sources like tanks and open wells makes agricultural highly vulnerable. As a result half of district’s population (49.2%) are below poverty line. Percentage of population below poverty line for the state is 22.19% indicating the extent of underdevelopment of Medak compared to the state. Three fourths of those below poverty line are agricultural labourers indicating the lack of non farm sources of employment.

Medak has a low female literacy rate in the state next only to Mahabubnagar. Female literacy rate is 19.3% according to 2001 census data against the state average of 32.7%. Overall literacy rate for entire district population is 53.24% against state average of 61.11 %. Literacy rate of rural areas is 26.9%, with female literacy being still lower at 13.8%. Educational backwardness of the area is also reflected in the low percentage (28%) of children in the 5-14 age group attending school. Medak has the highest primary school dropout rate (66.51%) in the state of Andhra Pradesh with the enrolment rate is as low as 32.72%. Besides, a large proportion (48%) of the children not attending the school in the 10-14 age group are workers.

Kowdipally Mandal

Scheduled tribes and scheduled caste communities together constitute around one third of the population in Kowdipally mandal. Agricultural forms the source of survival for 90% of the main workers in the mandal. Farming is characterized by unviable small land holdings bereft of any irrigation facility.

The mandal has a large number of tanks and kuntas along with considerable forest cover. However, the status of common property resources like tanks and forest is increasingly deteriorating affecting adversely the resource base and livelihoods of the marginalized communities in the mandal.

Some indicators of backwardness in Kowdipally Mandal, Medak

Agricultural workers as main workers
Below 4.93 acres holdings and their area
Above 10 acres holdings and their area6.7%
SCs and STs in total population

Scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households together constitute one third of the total population of the mandal.

Educational inequalities

Despite several campaigns to promote formal education ever since Independence, the literacy rate among Scheduled Tribes is only 29.60% compared to 52.21% for the country as a whole (1991 Census). The female literacy rate is only 18.19% compared to the national female literacy rate of 39.29%. Alienation from the society, lack of adequate infrastructure (schools, hostels, teachers), abject poverty and irrelevant curriculum result in poor formal education among the tribals.

Socio-Economic Situation of the area

Lambadas are an important segment of the social demography of the mandal. They are hard working and inhabit hamlets of gram Panchayats. They are often found close to the forests. Sections of the Lambadas are sanskritised because of the preaching of their guru. They do not consume alcohol. Lambadas are seen as occupying the lowest rung of the socio economic ladder by the caste Hindu social order. Even children and youth of the Hindu castes ridicule adults from the Lambada community. However, Lambadas treat the SCs as untouchables. There is another sub sect within Lambadas called as Bhattu Lambadas who are traditional bards who keep the legends of lineages in the form of folklore. They are treated as untouchables within the Lambada tribe.

Gangireddula community survives by collecting alms from the peasants during the harvest season. They decorate the ox and sing in praise of the farmers and collect grains seasonally. They are migrants and live a partly nomadic life. They are in small numbers in the Kowdipally mandal.

CARPED targeted these underprivileged sections of the community and most of the intervention plans are focused on these sections. Lambada and Gangireddula communities are the main target groups of these underprivileged sections.

Marguerite S. RobinsonLocal Politics: The Law of the Fishes- Development through {Political Change in Medak District, Andhra Pradesh (South India), 1988 Oxford University Press is a detailed study of the forms and nature of oppressive exploitation by the Reddys in Kowdipally mandal of Narsapur Block

Lack of opportunities: Kowdipally mandal has no industry. There are 10 rice mills and because of the big hatcheries like Suguna, Royal, Venkateshwara and Diamond, small and marginal farmers have started nearly 150 poultry farms in the mandal. Besides, kirana shops, toddy shops, schools and electrical, three wheeler as well as seven seat autos for local transportation and motor rewinding services complete the list of non farm economic opportunities. Service sector is in its infancy. Narsapur and Medak are the sources for trade and services as they are part of the earlier blocks and hardly 30 kms away. Agriculture and drought are the important factors explaining the economy of mandal. Minimum wages and equal wages are not implemented here. However, two bottles of toddy (for men) and one bottle (for women) is vital component of wage. There are a few attempts made demanding minimum wages and challenging illegal practices in making payments by the forest officials for ‘tendu’ leaf collected by the poor households.

Nearly 70-80 people are working in the rice mills, they are paid Rs.1000 p.m, and also get 7-8 kgs of rice everyday. There is only one big poultry farm with a capacity of 40-50000 birds employs 20 and are paid Rs.1500 p.m. Big hatcheries provide seed (birds), fodder and medicines for the maintanance of birds, each poultry farm employ 2 persons (preferably wife and husband) are paid Rs.1500 for the couple.

Seasonal : During the season, women are paid Rs.22 and a bottle of toddy and engaged in agricultural works. There were only 3 sugar factories and they are sick now, these are replaced by 12-15 small crushers. As locals are not specialised, skilled labour is employed from Tanuku to prepare ‘biscuit bellam (Anakapally bellam) jaggery.

Nearly 40-50 families in each village are dependant on ‘beedi leaf collection‘, they go before the dawn and collect the leaf before the sunrise and get 55 paise per bundle and ‘Kalledar‘ (contractor) collects 10% of it as ‘pechukatta‘ (extra bundle). As it seasonal, it is only for maximum of 4 months, from March to June.

Women collect the leaves to prepare disposable plates (‘Visthari‘) this is also seasonal employment during the month of February. As it involves a lot of labour they can hardly make a bundle of it (100 plates) and fetches Rs.30-35 per bundle and there is hardly one to purchase it, as most of them have at homes. There is a good forest with resources, but no market for it. Few people of ‘Eruka‘ and ‘bichapollu‘ caste collect sticks for brooms. Three persons depend on 7 seater steering autos and nearly 20-30 are running autos for livelihood.

Deepening debt crisis and forced migration: The area is characterised by small farmers and landless agriculturists. Landholdings being small most of the farmers continue to depend on wage labour in tube well irrigated farms owned by the rich and upper caste groups. Dry land agriculture or tank irrigated cultivation is the predominant form of the economy of the majority of population in the area. Small land holdings and lack of assured source of irrigation makes the life a struggle for survival. Traders and political fixers exploit the situation to their advantage by providing loans at exorbitant interest rates and recovering the same in kind at distress sale prices. Large number of Lambada families and landless sections resort to seasonal migration for want of gainful employment locally.

With the support of UNICEF / DRDA, CARPED has facilitated funds for 9 borewells (and 4 were successful as there is water base) and 7 water tanks, but this also caters only for drinking in thandas.

Bonded labour especially among the poor SC and ST is in vogue owing to poverty and exploitative practices resorted by the landed rich. Persons serve landlord for several years to decades to clear small loans they or their parents have borrowed. Often one of the family members of SC households is seen working as bonded labour. The loans they have to repay are hardly Rs. 5000 to Rs. 10,000 in most of the cases, which includes a small portion of principal, and the remaining being the compound interest. Lack of alternative opportunities and abject poverty to clear the loans explain perpetuation of the practice. A few persons have been freed from years long bonded service. Several others do not pull courage to come out of it so simply.

Child labour: Child labour is a perpetuating reality reflecting lack of both educational infrastructure and motivation for educating the children among the parents. Children become wage labourers and engage in tending of cattle. Mainly children belonging to BC, SC sections and Lambada families are employed in large number because of poor perception of schooling and low expected results of investment in education. Around 25 to 30 children were engaged as ‘jeethagallu’ in each village in early 90s, which has gradually come down owing to improved access to educational facilities and special measures to enroll out of school children and child labourers into schools and hostels since 1995 in the mandal. According to the DPEP survey (conducted in August ‘ September 1997) 32.20% of children of 6-14 years age group were out of school in Kowdipally villages. Now it is drastically reduced. Entire district has 20,656 children in 45 mandals of the district enumerated as never enrolled (9,985) and drop outs (10,671) according DPEP data of 2003 September. Baseline data of CARPED for 17 villages Kowdipally mandal in the year 2004, wherein CRY supported interventions have been implemented for past few years, indicates that still 3.18% of 6 to 18 years child population are child labourers.

There are nearly 25 children in the mandal engaged in restaurants or agricultural activities, they are advanced with Rs.2000-3000, till they clear the loan they are paid meager salary of Rs.600 ‘700.

Child labourers are mostly in 12 plus age group where the possibilities of favorable results of education are viewed as nil or minimal. In the case of girls it is seen as nil as they are considered to be soon getting groomed for marriage. The problem of such drop out children becoming child labourers is considered to be a major problem in the making. As large number of children of 5 to 10 year age group have been enrolled into schools in the past few years they are like to drop out as the facilities for upper primary and secondary education are meager and children have to travel long distances for the UPS schools. The trend is all over the district and the State as well. Past few years efforts at commendable progress in enhanced enrollment in elementary level without corresponding up gradation of schools at upper primary and secondary levels is bound to have severe rate of drop out. It would have serious repercussions for the gains made in UEE if this issue is not addressed immediately and correct the myopia of DPEP.

CARPED proposes to focus on drawing the attention of community and policy makers to address the issue and mobilize community for strengthening schooling by extending the coverage from elementary to secondary level. Advocacy and community mobilization through mass campaigns and sensitization of all stakeholders is planned to be initiated. It could be a model for other areas and other parts of the State too.

Common Property Resources like forest and water bodies are a major source of livelihood for the marginalized sections. These resources are not the property of any particular section especially the dominant castes. These provide opportunities for improving the employment and earnings of the poorer sections. Recent changes in policymaking space for the poorer sections to take part in management of the forest and village irrigation tanks promise new areas for empowerment. Community mobilised to take advantage of these policy changes giving control to poor households over the natural resources. There are 26 Vana Samrakshana Samithis with poorer households being the powerful section of the forest protection committees. This has provided them employment and power during the past seven years. Similarly small and marginal farmers are also organized in 29 Water User Associations in the mandal.


Kowdipally as any other village of the region is characterized by rain fed agriculture. The region is experiencing loss of livelihoods and immiserisation as agriculture is becoming very unviable owing to poor rain and lack of irrigation sources. Further increasing power tariff has been hitting the farmers very hard as the tube well irrigation has increased in the past ten or more years. Several farmers have lost their precious scarce investments in sinking wells that failed. The bore wells have been cheating the farmers with falling ground water table. Consequently there is considerable migration of poor households to Hyderabad and other parts of the state in search of labour and livelihoods. The problem is severe in some villages where there is no hope of finding any work. Some villages like Kukatlapally in the mandal have witnessed at least one third of the families migrating for labour. Devulapally about twenty percent households have migrated. But availability of some work within the village have brought back the poor households to their own village. Drought has been affecting the village lives in complex manner with implications that are immediate and long term. Education of children is affected, as small children are taken along by the parents. Cattle are sold for distress price. Farming is deprived of draft animals and source of farmyard manure is lost. Food for work activities are also not fully benefiting as the poor households are now deprived of cattle and bullock carts thereby giving scope increased employment of mechanized transportation and desilting of the village tanks. Poor farmers are increasingly pushed into the debt trap, as there are long spells of unemployment and poor wages. There are a few suicides of the farmers. There is need to pressurize the authorities to plan in advance for the drought relief works and employment generation and care of the cattle.

Unemployment and minimum wages: Unemployment is a growing social problem as there are no opportunities in the industrial sector. The industrial growth of 1971-80 has become a lost memory with several units becoming sick and defunct. The industrial estates of Jinnaram, Patancheru, Bollaram of Medak district have become ghost towns. The subsidies and special concessions have seen mushrooming of industry that has not lasted beyond a few years until they are declared sick and abandoned.

Unemployment in the farm sector has also become severe due to repeated drought. Minimum wages are not paid and it varies from Rs 20 to 40 a day from village to village and season. Women are paid less wage (Rs. 20 as compared to men who are paid Rs.40) and a bottle of toddy. Organising the rural poor and providing vocational skills both in farm and non farm sector is the key to improving livelihoods of the poor in the area.

Malnourishment & Food insecurities: PDS has inadequate quantity of food grains supplied and traditional crops are not provided there forcing changes in dietary practices and making it nutrition more expensive. Most of the poor households do not have the requisite money to buy provisions from the PDS. Poor households need to be facilitated to have savings and access to thrift & credit to address fundamental needs of survival and food security. SHGs need to examine the issue and force changes in favour of the poor to ensure especially children are not subjected to food insecurities and consequent implications for survival and growth.

Survival and growth of children and women is affected by the access to nutritious food. Studies conducted by NIN scientists and nutritionists reveal ‘20% of the children, aged 6-60 months, had moderate and severe malnutrition as judged by IAP classification using NCHS standards. The prevalence of malnutrition was significantly higher in girls than boys, in children under two years of age than those above 2 years of age, and among those who had other pre-school siblings. The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency as judged by Bitot’s spots was 4.5%. Most mothers continued to breastfeed/feed their children during episodes of diarrhea. Home made fluids like tea, sago, and rice water were given rather than commercial ORS or salt-sugar solution’ (Dr Mehtab Bamji et al Indian Pediatrics, 2000:37: 807-808).

The situation in Kowdipally mandal and among the SCs and STs is more alarming than Bamji’s observations of Narsapur area where Dangoria Charitable Trust is operating and is enaged in nutrition education.CARPED’s experience also in the area preventive health education has brought in posirtive improvements in the area of breast feeding and diarrhea management. Incidence of diarrhea deaths has been very low in Kowdipally over the past five years.

For the last 5 years CARPED was primarily concentrating on children of 6-14 age group and the major issues were child labour and education. Examination of the data of survival issues reveal that 0-5 age group issues are not at all adressed and the Govt. services and programmes not at all reaching this section of the children.

CARPED made an effort to adress the issue. CARPED started 5 balwadis in lcoal school premises, for which one teacher was supported by ILP and the education department agreed to extend mid-day meals to these children.

Inactive schools and PHCs: Schools and health facilities do not function effectively. CARPED has demonstrated with the support of CRY that community needs schools in hamlets and villages. DPEP schools have been started with one or two teachers in settlements where CRY supported schools were run during the day or evening. In some villages these schools do not function regularly as the teachers are irregular. Community sensitization and mobilisation is required. Similarly the PHC and the ANMs do not provide medical aid and health education to the people at large. There are no medicines to people who visit the PHC. Community has started demanding better services and immunization rate has improved significantly over the years. In Narsapur mandal it is observed by Dr Bamji et al that 98% children are immunized. In Kowdipally things are moving rapidly in the positive direction with health education reaching to the remote hamlets and supplementation by NGOs during the campaigns for immunization.

Mother & Child health campaigns, safe drinking water and sanitation measures, community mobilisation, training of traditional dais, almost 100% immunization have brought down IMR immensely from 112 in the year 2002 to 89 in 2004 in Kowdipally mandal. It is a commendable achievement indeed.

School health & Educational needs of the Disabled Children: There are 5555 disabled children out of a total 432360 children in schools in the district. This is a mere 1.28% enrolled children. A large section of disabled children are out of school as there is poor motivation among the parents and children and absolute lack of willingness on part of the authorities to acknowledge the problem and make the policy effective and attractive in addressing the issue. The system is sick and poor currently in addressing the health needs of children. Data on the number of children with disabilities from the educational authorities is discussed earlier.

There is great need to focus on the rights of the differently abled/ disabled children in regard to education and health care. There is no regular mechanism of health care for the school children either. It is proposed to have a comprehensive strategy of both pressurizing the authorities and also supplementing them in catering to the health needs of the children in schools. There is need to enlist the participation of the school authorities and PHCs in regular health check ups and ENT examinations of the school children. Periodic check ups will be planned in the cluster schools/ pay centers on a bi monthly basis with doctors from the PHC and outside. Also it is proposed to campaign for the educational facilities of the disabled children in the district and mandal. A comprehensive survey of the number of disabled children, and a plan for the disabled children will be prepared and authorities as well as the civil society will be sensitized in the year. The action plans will be prepared in participatory manner and there will be a public hearing and consultations with the authorities in the year for the comprehensive action plan for addressing the needs of disabled children in the district. It will be also part of the process to make the authorities to make planning of SSA to be local specific and accountable to the community.