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Village Kuthambakkam. Flickr
BY NEHA HEGDE

Kuthambakkam village in Tamil Nadu has overcome caste oppression and poverty to be a national model of participatory governance, improving the village economy. The poor housing conditions had been the biggest issue to be resolved by the villagers. 50% of the village population is Dalits (untouchables).

The Innovative Rural Housing and Habitat Development in Kuthambakkam Village venture were started by the Trust for Village Self Governance (TVSG), a magnanimous trust set up in 2001. This trust involved the creation of women self-help groups, skill development including construction skills, development of innovative and cost-effective industrial materials. This all was possible because of social integration.


Episode 6 – ” Swaraj Ke Tapu” of the web series Transparency: Pardarshita written, directed, and produced by Munish Raizada portrays how Elango – an engineer transformed Kuthambakkam village in Tamilnadu. In 1996, during the panchayat elections, Kuthambakkam was reserved for a candidate from the Dalit community. Elango decided to quit his engineer job and took a political pitch.

Click Here To Watch Episode 6 – “Swaraj Ke Tapu” of Transparency: Pardarshita Web Series

When the director of the web series- “Transparency: Pardarshita” meets Elango, he says that his aim was on winning the election as an independent candidate was gaining the support of those who did not belong to the Dalit community, which is 48% of Kuthambakkam’s population.


Focusing on the children and women was his two-pronged strategy. Flickr

After preparing a development blueprint for the project, Elango sought villagers’ opinions on every aspect. The gram sabha validated his proposals and decided to prioritize the work. Elango understood the strength of the participatory approach.

Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: कथनी से ज़्यादा करनी पर ज़ोर देने वाले बने दो आदर्श ग्राम

The Aims and of the project were:

  • Improve housing conditions in the Kuthambakkam village using innovative and appropriate technologies.
  • Establish Kuthambakkam village to emerge as a role model for integrated rural habitat and economic development.
  • Establish a Panchayat Academy for the purpose of spreading good practice among village panchayats.

Focusing on the children and women was his two-pronged strategy. He improved the infrastructure of schools. With the help of bureaucracy, Elango’s team was able to stop illicit brewing in the village. But that made men end up without livelihood. This was solved by forming men’s self-help groups.

ALSO READ: Here Are Five Reasons Why You Must Watch Transparency: Pardarshita

In the web series, we can see how self-help groups were making loungers, incense sticks, medical aid packs, cleansers, and separating oil from coconuts and peanuts. They worked for the sake of the village and not to gain commercial existence through industrial development. The village economy thrived to get better. It was not just Elango but it was the effort of all villagers together.

He also constructed a Panchayat academy which not only exists in Tamil Nadu but all over the nation in some regions.

Click Here To Watch Transparency: Pardarshita Web Series Free on MXPlayer


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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

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Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

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