Sunday, 16 July 2017

[] A day with ‘Payir’, founded by a middle class man (Senthil Kumar Gopalan) who left a million rupee job to empower villages [1 Attachment]


A day with 'Payir', founded by a middle class man (Senthil Kumar Gopalan) who left a million rupee job to empower villages to become the change they wished to see

EMPOWERING VILLAGES: Senthil Gopalan, founder, Payir. Photo: M. Moorthy   | Photo Credit: M_Moorthy

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.

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.

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.

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."

Though Payir's main goals were to make primary health and primary education accessible to all, soon governance and income generation entered the picture. 

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. 

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 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."

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.

Full article in the link below

View attachments on the web

Posted by: Ravi Narasimhan <>
Reply via web post Reply to sender Reply to group Start a New Topic Messages in this topic (1)

Check out the automatic photo album with 1 photo(s) from this topic.

Have you tried the highest rated email app?
With 4.5 stars in iTunes, the Yahoo Mail app is the highest rated email app on the market. What are you waiting for? Now you can access all your inboxes (Gmail, Outlook, AOL and more) in one place. Never delete an email again with 1000GB of free cloud storage.

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




No comments:

Post a Comment