Samata is a social justice organization working for the rights of the tribal “Adivasi” people of Andhra Pradesh, India and for the protection of the natural resources and ecology of the Eastern Ghats (hills). As a social action group Samata focuses on community based development action with the objective of assisting tribal people in obtaining development and infrastructure facilities like education, health care, drinking water, housing etc., creating awareness about tribal people’s rights and empowering them against exploitation.
Samata started working in a small tribal hamlet in 1987 with a group of tribal and rural youth, to mobilize tribal communities against exploitation by outsiders and by the government. Samata was formally registered as a non-government organization in 1990.
The “Samata Judgment'' (AIR 1997 Supreme Court 3297) has been a historic judgement in favour of the tribal communities. The experiences through the case proceedings lead Samata and other like minded organisations to form an alliance for better networking and information sharing.
Our vision is to help build an India in which tribal and scheduled castes, adivasi groups, the poor and other disadvantaged minorities can fully participate in a healthy Indian democracy, enjoy the benefits of economic development and retain their rights, their culture, and their history.
Our mission is to advocate for the voiceless, to hold government accountable to its promises, to enable minorities to fully achieve and exert their rights, to promote sustainable development while defending against environmental abuses and to aid the human development of the disadvantaged. We believe the best way to achieve our mission is through adherence to nonviolence, community empowerment and adherence to the democratic process.
Aims and Objectives
Samata is a social action group working on issues of human rights and environment, particularly in the context of indigenous (tribal/Adivasi) communities specifically in the Eastern Ghats of southern India and also in tribal areas across India. Samata’s primary focus in the last three decades has been on empowering the tribal people to assert and protect their constitutional and traditional rights over their natural resources and traditional livelihoods. Samata’s focus of work is on community based development action with the objective of assisting tribal people in obtaining development and infrastructure facilities like education, health care, drinking water, housing etc., creating awareness about tribal people’s rights and empowering them against exploitation.
Core Values and Principles
We believe in the possibility for development that advances the cause of social justice instead of undercutting it; in the ability of communities to develop and interact with the environment sustainably instead of exhausting natural resources and destroying ecological systems; in the capacity of tribal communities for self-government and their right to control their own land and resources; in the power of an organized and informed community; in the wisdom and the necessity of pursuing our mission through peaceful and democratic means.
History and Development
Samata started as a small community action group in a small tribal village in East Godavari district in 1987 and was formally registered in 1990. Our long journey of 32 years has taken us from the tribal villages to district headquarters, the state capital Hyderabad and then the national capital Delhi and internationally. Little did we know that our aim to assist the tribal communities in gaining their constitutional rights will be an enriching journey.
In the initial stage, we organised the tribal women's thrift societies(self-help groups), grain banks for farmers, schools in remote hilltop villages, community access to welfare schemes (Social Forestry / Joint forest Management), legal-aid and land alienation. Our work made us popular with the tribal communities and, in a short time, became a National level organisation with a solid grassroots presence after winning the Samata judgement.
In 1997, the Supreme Court verdict, better known as the Samata Judgement, transformed Samata from a community-based social action group into an organisation for advocacy and support of tribal and environment protection in the Eastern Ghats and across the tribal areas of India. The samata judgement has helped us strengthen our development and advocacy activities in the tribal regions.
Samata has geographical presence in all the Vth Scheduled (tribal states) states across India. The states include Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Target population include- Tribal, women, children & youth, mining and other development projects affected communities, farmers.