Periyar still ‘first member’ of Erode Co-op Bank

The Erode Urban Co-operative Bank was started at Periyar’s house on Cutchery Street on June 11, 1911.

Published: 17th September 2021 04:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2021 08:35 AM   |  A+A-

The Erode Urban Co-operative Bank, which was started in 1911 at Periyar’s house

Express News Service

ERODE: Being the native district of Periyar EV Ramasamy, who championed the cause of equality and social justice, Erode proudly hosts some establishments, which the rationalist leader was closely associated with. Notable among them are the cooperative bank of which Periyar still continues to be the first member even after his demise, the 5,000-litre water tank, which was the first piped water supply scheme implemented in the province, and the Periyar-Anna memorial at the house, where Periyar lived.

The Erode Urban Co-operative Bank was started at Periyar’s house on June 11, 1911. Periyar purchased 60 shares of the bank for Rs 300. Though he was originally the second member of the bank, he became the first member after his friend, Saibu’s account was closed in the 1940s.

Periyar and Chikkaiah Naicker at the 60th
anniversary celebrations of the bank

The bank was started with an intention to take banking facilities to the people of Erode. From its humble beginning at Periyar’s house, the bank now has 24,800 members. It is now operated on the land donated Periyar on Cutchery Street. Another stalwart, Chikkaiah Naicker, was the bank’s president for over 50 years.

Speaking at its 60th anniversary in 1973, Periyar said the bank was one of the finest in the province. “I am convinced of this fact as none of its chairmen, directors or employees has not gone to jail so far. In my eight years spent in jail, I have seen several bank officials arrested for graft,” he said.

Bank chairman R Manoharan said, “We are trying to live up to that legacy. Usually, accounts of the deceased are closed or handed over to their nominees. But, we retained Periyar’s account in his memory and he still continues to be the first member of the bank.”

According to Shanmugam, district organisational secretary of Dravidar Kazhagam, “He used to save money diligently and encouraged others also to save, which was one of the main reasons for starting the bank.”

Water tank at VOC Park
When he was the chairman of Erode municipality in 1919, he built the 5,000-litre water tank, the one at the VOC Park. “While the buildings constructed nowadays are damaged within months, this tank is still serving the people,” Shanumugam said.

The Periyar-Anna memorial, functioning at the house where Periyar lived, preserves several items used by Anna and him. Periyar, Anna, and Karunanidhi worked from this place to bring out Kudiarasu, a mouth piece for Self-Respect Movement for three decades since 1920s.


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