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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 14, november 1-15, 2009
The Gandhian way in Thennur
(By Shreeram Vidyarthi)

In Thennur village near Trichy you will not see Mahatma Gandhi, but you will meet ‘Ilam Gandhi’, ‘Young Gandhi’. He is a man who was earning Rs. 2 lakh a month till five years ago in the US.

Payir’s Community Health Centre.

The local English-teaching staff.

At work in the IT company.

Senthil in his room.

But one of his ambitions, from the time he was studying in school, was to serve his village. So, after earning some money for his parents, he resigned his job in the US and came to his village to start an NGO in order to support the village. He is just 36 years old now, which means he resigned his job when he was 31!

After resigning his job, he invested Rs. 40 lakh in Thennur to build a community health centre and an informal learning centre. Of the Rs. 40 lakh, Rs. 31 lakh came from his own pocket. He also started an NGO called ‘Payir’ to help the village

Now, he has appointed five people, who are locals, to work with him. They teach English in the schools in the locality.

And that is not all! He has created a small IT company within the village. This company has four employees as of now, all graduates and all from the village. They have an American client and are currently working on a $2500 project. This IT company is in the middle of a coconut garden.

While working in the US, Senthil used to deposit a little money for his parents, as one of his mother’s wishes was to build a house for themselves. With those savings, his parents now live in a big house in Srirangam.

But that’s not the case with him. He lives in a small hut in the village itself. How is he able to live without any income? He replies, “Payir provides me with daily food. My trustees have agreed to this. I have built a hut for myself using my past earnings. So shelter is not a problem. I have three sets of shirts and veshtis which I can use for the next two years. My friends will get me a few clothes once or twice in a year. What more do I need in life?”

When asked how he will manage in his old age if he falls ill, he confidently replies that he will go to a government hospital where everything is free.

How many of us will dare to act like Senthil? Many of us have had dreams like Senthil, but we all lose them in the quest to earn money and attain a ‘status’. We determine our path by seeing what others are doing. Senthil had a dream and he executed it.

While returning from Thennur, only one thing was running in my mind. If everyone of us did at least 0.1% of what Senthil has done, India will be much better than any other country in the world!

Thennur is not just another village on the Indian map. It is a start of a new beginning for India. Thennur is proof of the change that youth can bring to our country.


In this issue

Minjur desalination plant...
Can Town Hall be...
Tribute to Devadasi...
The Gandhian way...
Historic Residences...
Other stories

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