The Rotary Club of Madras honoured Rangasamy Elango, a model leader of Kuthambakkam village, with the ‘For the Sake of Honour Award’ on Tuesday for his efforts to transform the village in Kancheepuram district into a model village.
Kuthambakkam, which is 35 kilometres from the city of Chennai, has been under the spotlight, following its transformation from a place of object poverty, communal tension and illicit liquor brewing to a village of self-sustenance and social harmony, since 1996 due to Elango’s efforts.
From childhood, Elango had seen his village being the centre of social evils and caste prejudices.
A first- generation learner from a family of farmers, he had taken it upon himself to give back to his community. A chemical engineer by profession, he left a well-paid job, and was supported by his family.
The advent of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act (TNPA Act) in 1994 reinforced his belief in the concept of self sustenance for Kuthambakkam.
He equipped himself with the knowledge of the TNPA Act to help empower the 1,170 families in Kuthambakkam, apart from 1,176 women of the village through 40 Self Help Groups.
Today, the villagers produce their own food, and the village has a dairy processing plant, a soap manufacturing unit, as well as a manufacturing centre, apart from relying on solar energy.
With computerised administration, engineering workshops, a bakery and efficient water harvesting methods, Kuthambakkam has taken giant strides towards inclusive growth in the last 15 years.
Elango heads a panchayat academy that includes 700 panchayat leaders among the 1,200 panchayats across the State of Tamil Nadu and extends his services to these villages through the academy.
He frequently tours the village to highlight the importance of self-sustenance concepts that have worked for Kuthambakkam.
“Villages need to be the focus of change and development. The dynamics of development should work from the grassroots level. It can be done by making villagers self reliant and confident about their methods. Only that can make the growth inclusive and good for society as a whole,” said Elango in his acceptance speech.
The district governor elect of the Rotary Club of Madras Nazer presented the award to Elango.
Over 200 Rotarians from various district charters of the organisation attended the event.