Despite threats to his life and trumped up charges, Elango Ramaswamy is testimony to the change one man can bring in a corrupt system, by using Panchayat Raj as a tool to build strong local economies
KuthamBakkam: Some FactsKuthambakkam village is about 30 km from Chennai on the road to Tirupati. Soon after, passing Tirumazhisai, turn left off the highway at Vellavedu and you begin the pleasant drive to Kuthambakkam.
The Panchayat covers a 36 sq km area. It has a population of 5000 people in 1040 households spread over 70 hamlets. Kuthambakkam itself is a delightful village with numerous ancient small temples. Clearly, it is a long-lived habitat. A vast lake irrigates 1400 acres. Agriculture is practised in another 700 acres, which are rain fed. Water conservation has clearly been a part of its heritage. Elango’s leadership continues this tradition.
Though 55 per cent of the population are Dalits they own only two per cent of the productive land. There is only one Muslim family and about four per cent are Christian. Caste barriers have not completely broken down but at least there is no animosity. Last year, there were about six inter-caste marriages. There are 10 college graduates now.
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