Monday, 19 August 2013

[] A day with ‘Payir’, founded by a middle class man who left a million rupee job to empower villages to become the change they wished to see


It is obvious as we bump across the craggy excuse for a road straddling the districts of Perambalur and Tiruchi that our car is alien to these parts. Yet high school boys stop to salute as they cycle by, a destitute woman petitions at the window and little girls wave and call out 'maama'.

The man seated near me is far from the formidable rustic type but obviously commands respect. While his peers work in air-conditioned offices in the United States, Senthil Kumar Gopalan makes his own mud blocks for low-cost buildings, trains youth in software development at a rural BPO, wields technology to make education appealing to students and sits down to rice grown organically in his backyard.

The 38-year-old founder of Payir has kept faith with his childhood ideals. His organisation lives the Gandhian code of being the change you want to see, empowering villages to take responsibility for their own development. Six years after Payir's silent efforts, half a dozen villages in the heart of Tamil Nadu can claim better health care, education and employment.

At an age when career choices appear confounding, fifteen-year-old Senthil committed himself to social change. "My cousins recorded my mock interview as I planned my life for the next forty years. Initially all of us have idealistic views of changing the world," grins the son of an erstwhile cashier at the Pennadam sugar factory. "Many things haven't happened the same way. As we go along, we know our limitations, and life teaches us a lot of things."

Reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Swami Vivekananda shaped his thinking, but he attributes his ideals of rural development to Gandhi. "I can say the books that I read made me. These leaders lived in me."

As with best-laid plans, Senthil's well-crafted one went wrong. His family struggled with debts in his final year at engineering college and Senthil rushed into a sales job. But he soon found himself in a respectable position in IBM, capitalizing on the software boom. There, he reworked his plan to accumulate enough savings for his parents and his dream venture. "I went to the U.S. specifically to earn money," he admits.

Did the great American dream push the humble Indian one aside? "Before I left I made a commitment I would return after five years." And he kept it, quitting his job as technical director though his company offered to double his pay of one lakh dollars per annum. After making a fixed deposit for his parents, Senthil earmarked Rs.40 lakhs to kickstart Payir.

First seeds

After accompanying his uncle on a tour of 15 hamlets in the Perambalur belt, Senthil determined to sow the first seeds in Thenur. "It struck me there was a lot of work to do here. There was a marked difference in the kind of resources available and the pace of development." His uncle's benevolent gift gave an impetus to his venture -- 6.5 acres of land that became Payir's base.

Senthil does not believe in revolutionary change. "Change must be in small doses, so that people have the opportunity to decide."

At our first halt at Varadarajapuram, the woman responsible for the spring in his step, his new bride, Preethi, introduces us to health worker Sagaya Mary. "Our work is to build such change agents and help them take their own initiatives," Preethi, a homeopathy practitioner turned social worker, explains. "Though I have studied till Class VIII," says Mary, "I had to think before writing each word. Now with training, I am doing all this." She proudly shows follow-up records of antenatal mothers and low-weight children. Senthil says, "It takes a lot of energy to build confidence in people like Sagaya Mary but that is the most sustainable way of development. Self-sustainability is in the process and not in the funding. What matters is if people can carry the initiative to its eventual end."

Four goal posts

Though Payir's main goals were to make primary health and primary education accessible to all, soon governance and income generation entered the picture. "People should have the confidence to make an income without migrating to a town," says Senthil, spelling out the rationale behind Payir Innovations Technology Limted, a rural enterprise empowering local community.

At our next pit stop at Thottiyapatti, a community centre, replete with rows of books and computers, occupies pride of place. Development projects here are a result of collaboration with TUFTS University, Boston, whose students visit twice a year. Payir focuses on creating first-generation graduates here. Similar school intervention programmes are underway at Kannapadi, Nathakadu and T. Kalathur. "Our teachers fill in at schools short of staff. Initially we were seen as a threat and not allowed inside. But we have proved we are not here to confront, only complement," says Senthil.

At Thenur, a wireless tower looms, the cornerstone for most activities including e-learning centres where children connect to teachers around the globe through Skype. All buildings including Senthil's dwelling are simple but aesthetic structures built with minimal steel, stabilized mud blocks, palmyra pillars and coconut rafters. Senthil admits the idea has not caught on. "We associate cement, steel and teak with rich, and mud and palmyra with the poor." But experimentation has a free rein, whether in the non-formal school, the women's vermicomposting system, or the organic farm. "We have had many failures and a few successes," acknowledges Senthil. He has also had his moments of self-doubt. "My character was questioned repeatedly after we abolished illicit arrack here with the support of district administration. A man called me a terrorist at a gram sabha meeting."

Running under its own steam

Senthil plans to fade out of Thenur in three years when he accomplishes his original aim of reaching out to 30,000 people in 15 villages. He plans to start afresh in another terrain, hoping Payir's present initiatives will run under their own steam. "For the last one year, I have been staying away and looking at the process. I have tried to stop micromanaging everyday affairs."

Friends form Payir's financial backbone. "I can at least name 25 close friends from school, college, work who are committed to see this kind of change happen." His personal needs are limited, he affirms. "My friends gift me clothes and the Trust provides for my food, shelter and travel expenses. What else do I need? Unless you have a hand-to-mouth existence, I believe we all have a social responsibility."

Payir's saplings:

Health programme: Health centres offer basic medical care, physiotherapy and supply nutritious snacks. A strong referral network in city provides patients low-cost treatment.

Educational intervention: Supportive staff keep tabs on dropouts and assist students failing in board exams to clear repeat exams.

Employment: Community is involved in construction of buildings, organic farming and data entry for government.

Income generation: Payir Innovations Limited processes and packages food supplements, manufactures fashionable bags, and runs a rural BPO for software development.

Farming: Most of the rice and vegetables prepared in the community kitchen are organically grown on the premises.

Governance: Payir helps to strengthen panchayat governance to take responsibility for bringing about change. By being a part of various district committees it lobbies for development works in surrounding villages.


Recent Activity:
KERALITES - A moderated eGroup exclusively for Keralites...
To subscribe send a mail to
Send your posts to
Send your suggestions to

To unsubscribe send a mail to



[] Real story of American #Dollar v/s Indian #Rupee


An Advice to all who are worrying about fall of Indian Rupee

Throughout the country please stop using cars except for emergency for only seven days (Just 7 days)
Definitely Dollar rate will come down. This is true. The value to dollar is given by petrol only.This is called #Derivative Trading. America has stopped valuing its Dollar with Gold 70 years ago.

Americans understood that Petrol is equally valuable as Gold so they made Agreement with all the Middle East countries to sell petrol in Dollars only. That is why #Americans print their Dollar as legal tender for debts. This mean if you don't like their American Dollar and go to their Governor and ask for repayment in form of Gold,as in India they won't give you Gold.

You observe Indian Rupee, " I promise to pay the bearer..." is clearly printed along with the signature of Reserve Bank Governor. This mean, if you don't like Indian Rupee and ask for repayment,Reserve Bank of India will pay you back an equal value of gold.(Actually there may be minor differences in the Transaction dealing rules, but for easy comprehension I am explaining this)

Let us see an example. Indian petroleum minister goes to Middle East country to purchase petrol, the Middle East petrol bunk people will say that liter petrol is one Dollar.
But Indians won't have dollars. They have Indian Rupees. So what to do now? So That Indian Minister will ask America to give Dollars. American Federal Reserve will take a white paper , print Dollars on it and give it to the Indian Minister. Like this we get dollars , pay it to petrol bunks and buy petrol.

But there is a fraud here. If you change your mind and want to give back the Dollars to America we can't demand them to pay Gold in return for the Dollars. They will say " Have we promised to return something back to you? Haven't you checked the Dollar ? We clearly printed on the Dollar that it is Debt"
So, Americans don't need any Gold with them to print Dollars. They will print Dollars on white papers as they like.

But what will Americans give to the Middle East countries for selling petrol in Dollars only?

Middle East kings pay rent to America for protecting their kings and heirs. Similarly they are still paying back the Debt to America for constructing Roads and Buildings in their countries. This is the value of American Dollar. That is why Many say some day the Dollar will be destroyed.

At present the problem of #India is the result of buying those American Dollars. American white papers are equal to Indian Gold. So if we reduce the consumption of petrol and cars, Dollar will come down

The Above Details are translated originally from Telugu Language to English by #Radhika Gr.
Kindly share this and make everyone aware of the facts of American Dollar V/s Indian Rupee.

And here is a small thing other than petrol , what we can do to our Indian Rupee


Please spare a couple of minutes here for the sake of India.
Here's a small example:-

At 2008 August month 1 US $ = INR Rs 39.40
At 2013 August now 1 $ = INR Rs 62

Do you think US Economy is booming? No, but Indian Economy is Going Down.

Our economy is in your hands.INDIAN economy is in a crisis. Our country like many other ASIAN countries, is undergoing a severe economic crunch. Many INDIAN industries are closing down. The INDIAN economy is in a crisis and if we do not take proper steps to control those, we will be in a critical situation. More than 30,000 crore rupees of foreign #exchange are being siphoned out of our country on products such as cosmetics, snacks, tea, beverages, etc. which are grown, produced and consumed here.

A cold drink that costs only 70 / 80 paise to produce, is sold for Rs.9 and a major chunk of profits from these are sent abroad. This is a serious drain on INDIAN economy. We have nothing against Multinational companies, but to protect our own interest we request everybody to use INDIAN products only at least for the next two years. With the rise in petrol prices, if we do not do this, the Rupee will devalue further and we will end up paying much more for the same products in the near future.

What you can do about it?
Buy only products manufactured by WHOLLY INDIAN COMPANIES.Each individual should become a leader for this awareness. This is the only way to save our country from severe economic crisis. You don't need to give-up your lifestyle. You just need to choose an alternate product.

Daily products which are COLD DRINKS,BATHING SOAP ,TOOTH PASTE,TOOTH BRUSH ,SHAVING CREAM,BLADE, TALCUM POWDER ,MILK POWDER ,SHAMPOO , Food Items etc. all you need to do is buy Indian Goods and Make sure Indian rupee is not crossing outside India.

Every INDIAN product you buy makes a big difference. It saves INDIA. Let us take a firm decision today.

we are not anti-multinational. we are trying to save our nation. every day is a struggle for a real freedom. we achieved our independence after losing many lives.
they died painfully to ensure that we live peacefully. the current trend is very threatening.

multinationals call it globalization of indian economy. for indians like you and me, it is re-colonization of india. the colonist's left india then. but this time, they will make sure they don't make any mistakes.

#Russia, S.#Korea, #Mexico - the list is very long!! let us learn from their experience and from our history. let us do the duty of every true #Indian. finally, it's obvious that you can't give up all of the items mentioned above. so give up at least one item for the sake of our country!

We would be sending useless forwards to our friends daily. Instead, please forward this to all your friends to create awareness.

Recent Activity:
KERALITES - A moderated eGroup exclusively for Keralites...
To subscribe send a mail to
Send your posts to
Send your suggestions to

To unsubscribe send a mail to



[] The true significance of Raksha Bandhan


The true significance of Raksha Bandhan




The Festival of Rakhihas a special place in the hearts of all sisters and brothers, because on this day, they reinstate
the commitment to their pure relationship. But does it hold the same richness that it began with? Do we know why it started or has it become 'just one of those things we Indians do'? We know the literal meaning of Rakshabandhan – the bondage of protection and as per tradition, sisters apply'tilak'
on the forehead of their brothers, tie a colourfully decorated "rakhi' or thread on their brother's wrist, and offer sweets as a token of their love. In return, the brother vows to protect his sister under all circumstances and of course, gives his sister 'kharchi' or a gift.

But do we stop to wonder what happens if the brother is younger than the sister or if both of them live miles apart, or what if a girl does not have any brothers? Do only females need protection? Are their brothers immune to sorrow and problems? This is not an attempt to make a mockery of our auspicious festival, but is it celebrated with the correct attitude? Today, it seems to be more commercialized – what with all the different sizes and designs of Rakhis and the greeting cards that we find in the stores. All of our Indian festivals have a reason behind them; all we need to do is use our intellect to appreciate our rich culture.

Raksha bandhanhas a much deeper spiritual explanation. It is a reminder that as souls, we are children of the One Supreme Soul, our Spiritual Father. Its true significance lies in portraying the viceless and pure love between brother and sister.

' The tilak' is a symbol of awakening one's awareness of "Soul-conciousness" – i.e. realization of being a Soul, or divine light energy, and NOT the physical body. It is also a sign of being victorious. Victory here signifies overpowering man's greatest enemy - the VICES of anger, sex-lust, greed, attachment , ego…… Tying a "rakhi" is a symbol of a bond of chastity or purity in thought, word and deed. We face difficulties when we come under the influence of the vices and commit wrong actions. No action goes fruitless – good or bad, we will face the consequences. So, when we make a pledge to God - that we will not allow our thoughts, words or our deeds to be ruled by the vices - God bestows on us Divine wisdom, becomes our true protector and liberator, and showers us with unlimited peace and happiness! Under His canopy of protection, we can be truly safe.

Sweetening of the mouth is symbolic of the victory we will feel when we overcome the vices. God does not ask us for money or elaborate gifts – all He asks is that we give up the vices that are deeply hidden in the 'pockets of the souls.' We have to earn our happiness and security – we do not need to be dependent on anyone.

At the present time, fear is one the biggest diseases spreading in our world. By staying in soul-consciousness and re-affirming our vow to God, the Almighty, we can bring about a world of purity, peace and prosperity! This is how to truly celebrate Rakshabandhan.







Recent Activity:
KERALITES - A moderated eGroup exclusively for Keralites...
To subscribe send a mail to
Send your posts to
Send your suggestions to

To unsubscribe send a mail to



[] What A Wonderful Story


What A Wonderful Story - and Super Photography

About eight years ago a wild Australian Sulphur Crested Cockatoo flew into a car and broke its wing. The motorist took it to the Vet in Nerang , Queensland , who had to amputate the wing. We adopted her - for which we needed a National Parks and Wildlife permit - and kept her in a cage outside where she was often visited by wild Cockatoos.

One of the things that impressed us was how she would push lettuce leaves through the bars of the cage, offering food to visitors. Last Sunday she again had a visitor.

As usual he spent a lot of time sitting on the cage with a tamper proof latch.

There was a lot of talking and grooming. A bloke has to look presentable

when courting a bird!

Things got interesting when he approached the front door...

The clever fellow figured out how to undo the tamper proof latch!

He opened the door for a lot of mutual grooming and food sharing..

Oooh that's nice! Scratch a bit more on that side, dear...

He was not shy to get into the cage and would go in and out a number of times.

They mated! We are looking forward to beautiful baby cockatoos. Will keep you posted.

Later on, the whole extended family came visiting but the special mate was back every day so far.

We leave the door open during the day but if we forget, it doesn't matter - cockatoos have intelligence that rival primates. Because she has only one wing, she stays inside or just sits on top. Guess what happened next...

The Babies

At first it seemed as though he was annoyed because she did not fly off with him and he would squawk a lot. He soon came to understand that she could not fly so he just stayed. However, she was no longer returning to her cage.. The two of them would stay in the trees in our garden andbecause the yard is well fenced, they were safe from dogs but the neighbour's cat is not kept indoors at night and we often have to chase it away. Chances are the cat would come off second best in a confrontation with a Cockatoo but at night cats remain a danger because they could stalk
a sleeping bird on the ground.

Cockatoos make their nests in hollow logs but we noticed the male hard at work digging a hole under a clump of Lilly Pilly trees. We put down a hollow log for them but they just ignored us. The nest he dug was a hole with a short tunnel leading off to where she laid her eggs. Once there were eggs in the nest, the male became extremely aggressive. You better not get near the nest or he will take chunks of flesh from your foot.. It was difficult to take these pictures because I literally had to steal them while running away from the male.

We kept a vigil to see how things were progressing. They took turns incubating the eggs and covering the tunnel. After about three weeks, the eggs hatched. Have a careful look at this picture and try to spot the bit of yellow fluff.

Whenever Mum Dad Cockatoo leave the nest, we try to get a look but you have to do it while running because Dad Cockatoo is chasing you!

Second lap running around the Lilly Pilly trees!

Well, I hope his mother thinks he is pretty and eventually I might think so too but at the moment, both of them just look pink with a bit of yellow fluff.

How's that for a true Aussie Love Story???? Definitely has the aaawwwww factor!

Live life one day at a time and make it a masterpiece!

Recent Activity:
KERALITES - A moderated eGroup exclusively for Keralites...
To subscribe send a mail to
Send your posts to
Send your suggestions to

To unsubscribe send a mail to