Sahadeviah has been involved in social work since 1989. With his dalit background, he began building a political understanding early on by actively taking up student causes. Recognised by peer groups for his strong mobilisation skills, Sahadeviah decided to work towards a peaceful democratic movement to champion the rights of vulnerable groups – dalits, adivasis, fisherfolk, women, children and agricultural labour in coastal and upland area of Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh.
One of his core strategies in achieving this was to unite landless groups to identify wasteland for distribution and eventually cultivation, ensuring lasting food security, livelihood and better health standards. On witnessing the sangathan’s steady progress, feudal power structures came down heavily on the movement and several false cases were slapped on Sahadeviah and other members. In a life-changing incident in his home village Chilamanuru in 2001, dalits were brutally attacked for protesting the rigging of panchayat elections. Sahadeviah along with others was arrested and subjected to third degree torture and public humiliation. This incident motivated him to complete a degree in law and he is now a practicing High Court lawyer representing sangathan cases. He became a SRUTI Fellow during this period. The sangathan has so far managed to facilitate distribution of over 4000 acres and has been focusing on making the land arable through the state’s Comprehensive Land Development Programme as well as MGNREGA. Navjeevan is also involved in disaster relief & rehabilitation efforts in the cyclone-prone Nellore district. They played a major role in rehabilitation of fishworkers and Yanadi families after the 2004 tsunami.