It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we inform Mr P. V. Satheesh (77), founder and Executive Director of Deccan Development Society (DDS) passed away on 19 March 2023.
As one of the icons of civil society activism in India, Mr. Satheesh, through the Zaheerabad-based organisation in rural Telangana, championed issues of agri-biodiversity, food sovereignty, women's empowerment, social justice, local knowledge systems, participatory development, and community media. The women's sanghams of DDS and their steadfast adherence to millet cultivation and organic agriculture led the way nationally in offering demonstrable alternatives to the dominant agricultural paradigm. The recent efforts to incorporate millets into the public distribution system owes much to the work of DDS under his guidance.
Born on June 18, 1945 in Mysore, Periyapatna Venkatasubbaiah Satheesh was a graduate from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi and started out as a journalist. He went on to work as a pioneering television producer for nearly two decades for Doordarshan, making programmes related to rural development and rural literacy in the then-united Andhra Pradesh. He played an important role in the historical Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in the 1970s.
In the early 1980s, Mr. Satheesh, along with a few friends, initiated the Deccan Development Society in the semi-arid Zaheerabad region by collectivizing poor dalit women in the villages for a range of programmes that together challenged hunger, malnutrition, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, gender injustice, and social deprivation. He led the organisation for nearly four decades to become an internationally acclaimed NGO and an inspiring example that has motivated similar experiments in millet revival and promotion across the country.
He was a tireless worker and leader in the NGO sector who remained committed to his principles and was a generous mentor to many young people. He was recently honoured for his lifetime contributions in making millets a people's agenda.