Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Model Village in Tamilnadu, South India

Mahatma Gandhi said that India lived in villages. He wanted the villages to be developed. While everybody talks on every platform, nobody takes the serious initiative.
Here is the story of R Elango, a Dalit leader turning his village into a Model village in India. R Elango, born and brought up in Kuthambakkam village, in the adjoining district of Chennai City was involved in the social work right from his childhood. After completing his B.Tech in Anna University, he joined Oil India and shifted to CSIR as a Scientist.

When Mr. Elango, a native of Kuthambakkam, quit his job as a scientist at CSIR - Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, to return back to his village and contested in the 1996 Panchayat elections, history and fate were about to be rewritten..

His village Kuthambakkam with 7 hamlets and with more than 50% of Dalit population was always facing caste clashes. Due to illicit liquor trade, the poor villagers were losing money, health and family relations.

He was inspired by the idea of the then PM Rajiv Gandhi, who promoted the idea of ‘Panchayat Raj’ to give full freedom to village Panchayat. Later in 1992, Narasimha Rao Government passed the 73rd Amendment in the Parliament to implement Panchayat Raj in the entire country. The first elections were held in 1996 for Panchayats, based on the new Act.

Since nobody was willing to contest election to become the President of the Kuthambakkam village, he resigned his Government job to contest the elections.

In the 1996 Panchayat election, he was elected by the villagers with a three-fourth majority to become the first President of the village under the new Act. Panchayat Raj Act gave powers to the villagers for self governance. He started implementing word by word the guidelines given in the Act.

He visited many model villages across the country and developed a model for his village. He brought peace between the warring casts. The illicit liquor was totally eradicated through persuasion. He brought transparency in the village administration. The first Gram Sabha was constituted as per the Act with full powers.

Since he brought transparency in the administration, many of the contractors and the Government officials did not like his way of functioning. On some flimsy grounds, he was suspended in 1998 by the then Collector. As the Collector read out the charges before the Gram Sabha, the entire village stood by Mr Elango, rejected the charges completely. He was reinstated by the Government as the President. After this incident, the Government realized his potential.

In 2000, for the first time in India, he built 50 twin houses in a single colony called ‘Samathuvapuram’ (Place for equality). In every twin house, one dalit and one non dalit lived. This scheme was later adopted by the Tamilnadu Government and extended to the entire State.

During the first five years, he made a lot of transformation in the village, including creating opportunities for employment generation and education. In 2001 Panchayat election, he was elected unopposed by the villagers. During his second term, he completed all the unfinished works and placed his village in the Indian map as a Model village.

He made the systems to work well and improved the economy of his village. While in 2006 and 2011 elections, he encouraged others to become the President. Till date, his system continues.

Elango feels that though India has around 2.70 lakh Panchayats covering around 6 lakh villages, there are only 100 to 200 model villages like Kuthambakkam. In order to train the Panchayat leaders to function properly, he started a ‘Panchayat Academy’. Through this Academy, he has networked over 700 Panchayat Presidents. By 2016, he wants to help 200 villages to become model villages and to train 1000 aspiring Panchayat leaders.

Though people in and around his village respect him, he is not interested to join any political party and to contest for Assembly or Parliament elections. “I will move only horizontally to develop villages”, says Elango proudly.

Mr Elango can be reached at panchayat@yahoo.com

About Kuthambakkam 

 
Kuthambakkam is located in Poonamallee (or) Poovirundhavalli union, Thiruvallur district of Tamilnadu State, South India, situated in the latitude of 13°2'30"N and Longitude of 80°2'26"E

This is an agriculture-based village. It is situated 8 KM from Poonamallee, 31 KMs West from State Capital Chennai and 18 KMs East from District head quarters Thiruvallur.This village covers an area of 36 square kilometers. It constitutes about 700 acres of wetland and 1100 acres of dry land.

Kuthambakkam Pin code is 600 124 and postal head office is Thirumushi. Nemam ( 1 KM ) , Vellavedu ( 1 KM ) , Melmanambedu ( 1 KM ) , Padur ( 2 KM ) , Korattur ( 3 KM ) are the nearby Villages to Kuthambakkam. Kuthambakkam is surrounded by Kunnattur Taluk towards East , Sriperumbudur Taluk towards South , Ambattur Taluk towards East , Tiruvallur Taluk towards west .

Thirunindravur , Ambattur , Thiruvallur , Nandivaram-Guduvancheri are the nearby Cities to Kuthambakkam.

This Place is in the border of the Thiruvallur District and Kanchipuram District. Kanchipuram District Kunnattur is East towards this place . Also it is in the Border of other district Chennai . It is near to bay of bengal. There is a chance of humidity in the weather.

What the village was like 15 years back ----  

a) illicit arrack brewing activities and easy availability of illicit liquor
b) Caste clashes between dalits and non dalits
c) Inadequate basic facilities like, safe drinking water, drainage and internal roads
d) No regular income due to unemployment
e) No assurance to food
f)  Violence against women and children existed.
 
Demographics of Kuthambakkam

Tamil is the Local Language here.
 
How to reach Kuthambakkam
 
By Train

Nemilicherry Halt Rail Way Station , Tiruninravur Rail Way Station are the very nearby railway stations to Kuthambakkam. How ever Chennai Central Rail Way Station is major railway station 29 KM near to Kuthambakkam

Colleges near Kuthambakkam

C. T. M. College 
Address : Irulappalayam; Kuthambakkam Post; Thiruvallur Dist; Postcode -- 602 107.
Schools near Kuthambakkam

St.claret Mat School,nadukkath 
Address : nadukuthagai , poonamallee , thiruvallur , Tamil Nadu . PIN- 602024 , Post - Tiruninravur Rs
 
St Johns Rural Hs,pazhanjur 
Address : pazhanjur , poonamallee , thiruvallur , Tamil Nadu . PIN- 600123
 
Govt (g) Hss, Kamaraj Nagar 
Address : avadi ward-25 , poonamallee , thiruvallur , Tamil Nadu . PIN- 600071 , Post - Kamarajnagar
 
Jaya Jaya Sankara,nazarathpett 
Address : nazarathpettai , poonamallee , thiruvallur , Tamil Nadu . PIN- 600123