The uncertainties that the year 2020-2021 brought into our lives need no introduction. With the pandemic being especially harsh on the underprivileged and the needy, rights activist and professor Sujatha Surepally is inspiring us to face them with kindness and compassion.
A philanthropologist, professor and Head of the Department of Sociology at Satavahana University, Telangana, Sujatha Surepally is also a prominent activist and advocate for Dalit women’s rights and Adivasi rights. She’s been an active part of the Telangana statehood movement, the movement against Polavaram dam and the anti-caste movement.
The Volunteers for Covid-19, conceptualised by professor Sujatha Surepally and her friends, has set up a platform with an aim to provide relief to affected families during the COVID-19 situation. The work that stood out was the #EachoneReachone campaign and #HelpTelanganaBreathe. Professor Sujatha Surepally distributed medical kits, oxymeters, thermometers, sanitisers, medicines, N95 masks and nutritious foods tablets. Additionally, she initiated the set-up of 5 isolation centers across Telangana in Karminagar, Hyderabad, Warangal and Sircilla.
As a activist, professor Sujatha Surepally stood at the frontlines of various movements and fought for the rights of the marginalised communities. She is a leader of Bahujan Morcha, is ideologically an Ambedkarite and works on the lines of Dr. BR Ambedkar and Savithribai Phule in true sense and spirit. As a activist, professor Sujatha Surepally has been a part of several movements and has worked on caste, gender, land rights, rights of Adivasis, education and environment. She is the convenor of Bahujan Pratighatana Vedika, and work to document and upload videos on Desi Disa, a YouTube channel to sensitise people. Despite state repression, trolling from Hindu right-wing goons, fake cases on her activities and social media writings which are based purely on oppressed castes, she moves on and inspires.
Professor Sujatha Surepally works to create safe spaces for children, women and the marginalised communities. She work on strengthening their knowledge base, increasing their capacity to learn skills in a holistic manner so they can assert their right to life, dignity and livelihood. She has emerged as a powerful voice in the fight against caste and gender-based injustice for over the past two and a half decades.
Now as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, Professor Sujatha Surepally has been actively helping people cope with the crisis. In the process, she became a household name and a support system for countless families. She has been involved in numerous relief efforts since last year, from helping the needy families, her dedication towards the common man propelled her to start various initiatives to help people of all stature.
The second wave of COVID-19 is serious, but society at large, governments, administration and our warriors are working with a great sense of urgency to meet this challenge, she said. We will be able to overcome this crisis only through positivity and collective strength, added professor Sujatha Surepally. She is passionately leading a dedicated team with a strong vision to continue to serve the masses across the country through her humanitarian endeavours. This includes providing state-of-the-art healthcare, education, employment, and technology advancements. With the help of the Volunteers for Covid team, she wishes to initiate a movement that encourages people to join hands towards serving humanity.
Additionally, she is planning to lay down a path for the underprivileged population by helping them access better quality education, providing career opportunities, and supporting healthcare leading to self-reliance.
The #EachoneReachone campaign that professor Sujatha Surepally led attempted to mitigate the wide gap between people who can access technology, particularly in the field of education in these times of Covid-19 pandemic. While many children in our society found themselves attending online classes necessitated by the pandemic, many other students from financially poorer families and orphans continue to struggle to access education as they can’t afford a smartphone, professor Surepally said. And to address this, the #EachoneReachone campaign raised funds to ensure smartphones and laptops to students from marginalised communities and economically weaker sections, thus bridging what is a glaring gap in the access to education for many in the pandemic times.
During the course of the campaign, professor Sujatha Surepally highlighted how there is huge digital divide along the lines of caste, class, gender, regions and religions, which further marginalised kids from mainstream means of knowledge and politics. As a volunteer working with professor Surepally, I was witness to how she provided 150 mobiles and 50 laptops for the poor and underprivileged students. Across Telangana, she managed to reach hundreds of children from rural areas with the #EachoneReachone campaign and also helped to pay the course fees of many. Her passion and vision is not just one organisation or NGO taking the responsibility of uplifting the poor and the marginalised. She believes it is everybody’s responsibility to respond to the injustice happening around us.
Professor Sujatha Surepally is a change-maker who is not willing to let others define her, the role in society and what she can or cannot do. She says, “You don’t need to be rich to help others, you just need a heart to understand and respond.”
Professor Surepally understands that it is not easy working as Dalit/Bhaujan woman activist without any political support and money back up. However she is determined to do what she can. “My education is a tool for development of the marginalised,” she asserted.
Naguri Shamjoel Swaero is a student of BSc in Anthropology at the University of Delhi. You can find them on Facebook.
All inserted images as provided by the author.
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