Trivandrum, Apr.30:Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of Gram Swaraj has been fulfilled by Shri Ramasamy Elango, said Maharashtra Govenor, K Sankaranarayanan while bestowing the Man of the Year award on Mr Elango.
Applauding the transformation of Mr Elango’s village Kuthambakkam, Sankaranarayanan stressed that India needs an Elango in every village. “Through the power of persuasion he changed the heart of several people and brought about the transformation of the entire village of Kuthambakkam in Thiruvalluvar district of Tamil Nadu,” said the Governor.
Instituted by THE WEEK magazine, ‘Man of the Year’ is an annual award given to unsung heroes who work tirelessly to bring about social change and empowerment at the grassroot level. Ramasamy Elango was honoured for his efforts to transform his native village, Kuthambakkam into a model village. The award which contains a trophy and a citation was given to him in presence of Mr Riyad Mathew, senior assistant editor of THE WEEK. The first ever Man Of The Year (1982) was eminent social worker late Baba Amte who went to win Ramon Magasaysay award in 1985. Some other prominent award winners include Rajendra Singh, who won a Magsaysay award subsequently, Dr Abhay and Rani Bang, Dr Baba Adhav, Subhas Medhapurkar, Ratan Katyani and more recently Dharampal Saini in 2012.
Elango, the fifty three year old chemical engineer who quit his job as a scientist with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) , was elected as the head of gram panchayat of his native village, Kuthambakkam in 1996. The village suffered from myriad social ills like alcohol addiction, casteism, domestic violence and poverty. Due to Elango’s concerted efforts for the past twenty years and belief in bottom up approach to development, Kuthambakkam today is completely self sufficient. It is a hut less village with reduced alcoholism, well developed road infrastructure, rainwater harvesting and solar powered street lights. Each of the 1040 households in the village earns 40,000 a month. He also brought together traditionally antagonistic Dalit and non Dalit communities together by implementing a programme where they lived in twin houses in a compound. Elango also set up Panchayat Academy, an institution to impart leadership training to the elected Panchayat presidents. “I am a small man working for a small village. If this transformation is possible in Kuthambakkam then it is possible in the entire country” Elango said while accepting the award. According to him, the decentralisation of power is essential for development at the village level. His dream is to create a new kind of economic zone, “You network twenty or thirty panchayats and initiate trade between them, some village will be produce paddy, another milk, another cloth, these villages will share these products amongst each other and create a self sustaining economic zone, which is better than a special economic zone.”
“In the midst of acrimonious election battle and controversial political rhetoric men like Elango can demonstrate that life can be fulfilling and rewarding without having to give up basic values like integrity and service” said T R Gopaalakrishnan, Editor-in-Charge, THE WEEK said applauding Elango’s efforts. (ANI)