1984. A young Rajen Joshua crouched behind a tree, lying in wait for the landlords who beat him up the previous week.
Rajen had come to the wilderness that was the Anantapur of the 70s as a part of the Young India initiative. He had been encouraging the villagers to stand up to the local landlords and claim what was rightfully theirs from the land that they worked on. This didn't go down well with the local landlords who had the authority in the region for decades.
The story of SEDS is often the story of opposition. Opposition to outsiders, to a different way of development, to a different way of thinking. Over the years, Rajen and Manil have had to deal with hostile farmers, corrupt bureaucrats, an apathetic officialdom, false police cases, thieving employees, naxal threats, and even short spells in jail. SEDS is certainly the only NGO that has even run on the proceeds from motorbike rallying, thanks to Rajen's race wins during times of fund shortages.
The success and development that you see around you came about not only with hard work, but with several hard knocks. Looking at the results, we must not forget that the journey has been far from easy and far from complete.
Rajen never got to confront the people he was waiting for on that evening in '84. Someone had warned them to avoid that route and a few days later, the village brokered a compromise.
[The article originally written by Amit Manikoth, for SEDS's 30 years celebration. This is simply a reproduction.]