Continuing the life sketches of 'Women achievers of India, here is the life sketch of the great Mrs. Chinnapillai. It is matter of great pride for all Maduraiites and Tamils when the then Prime Minister of India Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he visited Madurai paid his compliments to Mrs. Chinnapillai.
Mrs. Chinnapillai was born in Pullisery village, Madurai District, state of Tamilnadu, in South India. She has been deeply involved in organizing and working with co-agricultural laborers for undertaking various agricultural operations on a collective basis to maximize their benefits.
She started a very successful banking system in the villages in Tamil Nadu and is a champion trying to reduce poverty and debt grievances by empowering women. Her intent efforts in leading a savings unit among women in the dept stricken village of Pullucheri became so successful that soon many groups sprung in the region with equal effectiveness. The Kalanjiam, microcredit movement received a huge boost from her dedication and contributions, reaching out to many women living under poverty.
She was the founder of a number of Kalanjiams (savings and credit groups) of poor women and was instrumental in forming Vaigai Vattara Kalanjiam, Appantirupathy, which is the First Federation of Rural Women Savings and Credit Group in India. This has a membership of over 40,000 women. The linkages that she has established between the Kalanjiams and the banks and other financial institutions like NABARD, HUDCO etc. has resulted in promotion of income generation for hundreds of poor women to get them rid of the clutches of money-lenders.
She led many struggles to establish the rights and entitlements of poor women against landlords, moneylenders, politicians and officials. The most notable was the right for fishing over the village tank, which was controlled by the landlords.
Her selfless and untiring service for the poor women in the South has earned her Mata Jijabai Stree Shakti Puraskar award for the year 1999, one among the 5 women.
In a picture perfect moment for the press, then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee bowed down in respect and touched her feet while presenting her with the award.