Employment is a right, unemployment dole is not, village head tells youth
M Rajasekhara Panicker
29 Jul 2015
The Thalayazham panchayat in Vaikom taluk of Kottayam district in Kerala made history when it took a vow to forego unemployment wages.
According to the villagers, they decided to ask youth to take the vow, after they realised that if each youth contributed to making the village self sustainable, it will stop their dependance on unemployment wages.
Unemployed youth have found jobs in their own villages, thanks to a decision taken by the Thalayazham panchayat (Photo: The Sunday Indian)
“Employment is right, whereas unemployment is not. Unemployment dole is given to people where there is no employment,” said panchayat president MD Baburaj.
According to Baburaj, the panchayat called a meeting of 520 people who had been receiving unemployment wages and told them that employment was their legal right.
The panchayat thereafter, took the responsibility of giving employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), giving training under various schemes and helping individuals and groups get bank finance.
“Where is the room for unemployment now?” says Baburaj. “We called a meeting of youth who receive unemployment wages and asked them to give an undertaking to do work under MNREGA and forgo unemployment wages.
“We have given the name 'Ente gramam, swasraya gramam’ (My village, self-sufficient village) to this scheme. We plan to make this village self-sufficient in grains, meat, milk, egg and vegetables,” he added. The panchayat has a population of about 25,000 people, of which 90 per cent are literate farmers.
The panchayat chalked out schemes to meet targets. “1,500 acres were cultivated this year, if we can make it 3,000 acres and cultivate two times, we will be self sufficient in paddy,” says a beaming Baburaj.
The schemes worked, say villagers, because of public mobilisation. “The villages were organised into 50 houses each, and youth from each of these groups extended their help,” explains Baburaj.
“We produced an additional paddy yield of 170 quintals. Areas that come under Upper Kuttanad were also made fertile and cash crops were planted. About 2,000 to 3,000 people are working under MNREGA. The panchayat has enough funds and projects which can accommodate surplus hands,’’ said panchayat secretary B.Vijayan.
The panchayat has taken care to rehabilitate those who are unable to do physical work, as well. They are being given help to organise schemes befitting their abilities.
The return of Sabbah Haji and her family to their hometown in Kashmir’s Doda district has helped local children as the school started in 2009 is still growing. Afsana Rashid finds the school running with the help of volunteers from outside
The new 225 feet long bridge across river Ghaggar, linking the villages of Panihari and Alikan in Haryana, is a model project. Costing Rs 1.5 crore, the bridge is an example of a people’s initiative, funded by the public, says Partho Burman
From a ‘crying bed’ that alerts mom to change baby’s diaper to ‘auto-safe’ helmet making distress call in the event of an accident, Rudra Narayan Mukherjee has fabricated a plethora of devices from a tin-roof lab, says Santosh H K Narayan
Once a domestic help, it is just natural that Anuradha Bhosale dedicated her life to protect children from exploitation. Kavita Kanan Chandra tells us how she charted her path out of poverty through education and work among child labourers
At 97, Sudhanshu Biswas is a busy man. Taking care of 50 boys and 6 senior citizens, meticulously monitoring if they are served food on time and so on, at his home near Kolkata, he keeps visitors waiting. G Singh found the waiting worthwhile
A Chennai woman’s simple gesture of donating the money she gets from selling old newspapers, collected from homes, to two orphanages is an inheritance from her parents, who always took care of poor youth at their home, says P C Vinoj Kumar
A sweet idea struck the young Coorgi woman when she was working in a hotel. Chayaa Nanjappa never looked back, despite all odds, and today her Nectar Fresh products, like honey and jam, are stocked in upscale hotels. Preethi Nagaraj meets her
A computer engineer by calling, Arundhati Malhar Yatish Mhatre’s heart goes out to birds. Her passion is on display at her seventh floor flat in Mumbai, where winged visitors fly in for breakfast, lunch, dinner and rest, says Afsana Rashid