Realising Gandhi


Rangaswamy Elango

Rangaswamy Elango
India lives in villages. Elections are won and lost with rural votes. Nevertheless successive governments have done very little for our villages. Most villages have no healthcare facilities,schools, roads,potable water, sewage disposal facilities..etc. Most panchayats are filled with corrupt members who pocket the money released for developmental activities. In this scenario Rangawamy Elango stands out like a shining star, a beacon of hope.

A few years ago, Kuthambakkam was fraught with poverty and lacked basic infrastructure. Violence against lower castes and women was rampant. 35% of it's population was involved with illicit liquor brewing. The village transformed now. Inspired by Gandhi, Elango has successfully implemented his vision, "Gram Swaraj' - a self sufficient village.

An old man watches as panchayat workers of Kuthambakkam measure the land to build his house. He had always lived in a hut. Elango’s efforts have helped the poor to own a pucca house without getting into debt traps.

Two childhood images burned into his consciousness forever, shaping Rangaswamy Elango’s life, his philosophy, his mission and his attitude. One was drunken men beating their wives and the other was his impoverished class-mates drinking water during lunch-breaks to quench the fires of hunger in their bellies. He was one of the few in the village school with a packed tiffin box. Elango grew up to become Kuthambakkam’s first engineer. After his graduation, he got a job and a posting in Bhubaneshwar.

During his visits to his village, Elango was pained to see the constant degradation of the society and the land. Elango yearned change this. That was his calling, his mission. Finally he gave up his job and returned to his village, much to the chagrin of his father and wife Sumathy. He activated the local youth, fought illicit brewers, started a cattle feeding unit. Life was difficult, but then came Panchayati Raj in 1996. He contested for the post of Kuthambakkam Panchayat President and won. Elango was thrilled. In this saddle, he could fulfill his dreams of becoming an effective social reformer who would transform his village.

At Sadhbavana Camp – a settlement for communal harmony at Kuthambakkam

"The only way to make problems go away is to face it. There is no other solution."

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