Dec 30 - We reached Chengalpattu and moved on to Kuthambakkam near Kanchipuram.
We were welcomed into the town hall which we later learnt were built from 'green' bricks produced locally, using several other innovative cost effective building technologies and built entirely by the villagers!
Mr.Elango, a cental government chemical engineer-researcher quit his job to seek election for his Village's Panchayat and has been the leader of his panchayat since the time the system has been introduced.
To combat the ill efects of the caste system and homelessness he first convinced fifty non dalit and dalit families to shift into a new portion of the village called Samathuvapuram (crude translation for equal-place) where there would live in twin houses.
The villagers made the bricks and built the houses and other common village infrastructure themselves thereby creating local employment. They now sell those bricks creating further employment and trade!!
The cluster of villages then switched to Organic farming, then were made to form self help groups and small scale industries that created finished products out of the agro-produce, thereby boosting employment and the local economy further! All projects have been implemented with around 75% financial support from the governement.
People from TN would be familiar with the Samathuvapuram concept that has since spread to several parts of the state, we were told governements and communities across the country are now studying the model for implementation.
Mr.Elango also spoke of his vision to personally mentor the transformation of 2,000 villages across the country through sharing know-how with their local sarpanches. We also met several youngsters including guys from IIT, who were staying with him to learn the model, to implement at their own villages.
An inspiring man with a bold vision and a solution that transforms! Check www.ModelVillage.org.in
We returned for late lunch. In the evening we had a session in the common AC chair compartmnents by Ms.Jude Kelly, UK on 'Women leadership'. We discussed lots of things like reservation, empowerment etc. Controversial statements, paranoid men, overtly feminist women, the sane headed and all other ingridients for a good discussion were there, but unfortunately the discuission was just for hour and a half.
After dinner our group got together in our cabin for a discussion on Aravind, we ended of discussing a business plan instead before crashing.
PS: I'll update the blog with some pictures later