Community Development

January 26, 2009

Paavalareru Perunchitranaar -பாவலரேறு பெருஞ்சித்ரனார்

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , , — cdmiss @ 9:05 am

முகத்திற்கு அழகு ஒப்பனை! மனதிற்கு அழகு உயர்ந்தவர்களை எண்ணி உருகுதல்

திராவிடர் கழகத்தைச் சேர்ந்த நண்பரொருவர்தாம், பாவலரேறு பெருஞ்சித்ரனாரின் எழுதுக்க்களுக்கு என்னை அறிமுகப்படுத்தினார். பகைவர் கூட குறைசொல்ல முடியாத தமிழ், பாவலரேறுவின் தமிழல்லவா?. தனித் தமிழில் கூட இவ்வளவு சுவைபட எழுதமுடியுமா என்று எவரையும் வியக்க வைக்கும் தமிழல்லவா? பாவலரேறுவின் தென்மொழிக்கு வாசகனானேன். என்னுடைய விரிவான கடிதங்கள் ஒன்றிரண்டு கூட தென்மொழியில் பிரசுரமாயின.

அறிமுகப்படுத்திய அதே நண்பர் தாம் பாவலரேறுவின் “வாழ்வியல் முப்பது” என்ற சிறு கவிதைத் தொகுப்பைப் பரிசளித்தார். பாவலரேறு தமிழையும் கடந்து மானுடத்தை நேசித்ததற்கு அது ஒரு அடையாளம்.

வருடங்கள் கடந்தன். பாவலரேறு பல காரணங்களால் உளவுத் துறையின் கண்காணிப்பிற்கு உட்படுதப்ப்பட்டார். அறிமுகப்படுத்திய அதே நண்பர், ஒரு நாள் என்னைத் தேடி வந்தார். அவருக்கு நெருக்கமான உளவுத்துறை நண்பர், அவரிடம் என்னைப் பற்றியும் விசாரித்திருக்கின்றார். முன்பின் தெரியாத யாராவது, தமிழ் தீவீரவாதம், இலங்கை பிரச்சினை பற்றி வாயைக்கிளறினால் கவனமாகப் பேசும்படி கேட்டுக்கொண்டார். அதற்கு முன்னரே எனக்கு அறிமுகமில்லாத ஒருவர், நான் சந்தேகப்படாத அளவு இதைப் பற்றி பேசிவிட்டுச் சென்றுவிட்டார். இந்த மாதிரி மொக்கைகளைஎல்லாம் பட்டியலில் சேர்த்து ஏன் உயிரை வாங்குகிறீர்கள் என்று அவர் அலுவலகத்தில் கோபித்து இருப்பார்.

மதுரையில் அப்போது பிரபலமாயிருந்த இன்னொரு தமிழ் அறிஞ்ரும் கூட என்னை எச்சரிக்கை செய்தார். பாவலரேருவுக்கு பல பிரச்சனைகள். தென்மொழி வெளியீடு சிக்கலுக்கு உள்ளானது. தொடர்புகள் விட்டுப்போயின. நான் ஒரு சராசரி வாசகன் தானே! 92 ல் கல்லூரி சார்பாக ஒரு இதழ் தயாரிக்கும் பணி எனக்கு கொடுக்கப்பட, இட நிரப்பலுக்க்காக (gap filling) என் மனதில் பட்டது பாவலறேருவின் வாழ்வியல் முப்பது. எங்கள் கல்லூரியில் பாவலறேரு பற்றி யாருக்கும் தெரியாது. பாவலறேருவின் கவிதைகளைப பிரசுரித்து அவர் பெயரைப் போட்டிருந்தால் யாருக்கும் தெரிந்திருக்காதுதான்.அட்சேபிதிருக்கமாட்டார்கள் தாம். இருப்பினும், பிரச்சனை தவிர்க்க பெயரைப் போடாமலே பாவலறேருவின் கவிதைகளைப் போட்டுவிட்டேன்.அது தவறுதான். ஆனால் மரியாதையை மனதில் கொண்டு செய்ததால் மனசாட்சி உறுத்தவில்லை.

சமூகப் பணி இதழைப படித்த, அப்போது மதுரையில் “உங்கள் உடல் நலம்” என்ற பத்திரிக்கையை நடத்தி வந்தவர் (பெயர் நினைவிலில்லை), எங்கள் இயக்குனரிடம் அக்கவிதைகளைப் பாராட்டியது மட்டுமல்ல, அவருடைய இதழில் மறுபிரசுரம் செய்ய விரும்புவதாகச் சொல்ல, நானே அவரைத் தேடிச்சென்று, அது எங்களுடைய கவிதையல்ல என்று சொல்லி “வாழ்வியல் முப்பதை” அவரிடம் கொடுத்து விட்டு வந்தேன். அப்பொழுது எனக்கு தெரிந்திருக்கவில்லை, ஒரு பொக்கிசத்தை இழக்கின்றேன் என்று.

இடையில் நான் தேடியும் வாழ்வியல் முப்பதோ, சமூகப் பணி இதழோ எனக்குக் கிடைக்கவில்லை. பாவலரேறுவின் கவிதைகளை சிறு சிறு “பேனர்களாக்கி” கல்லூரியில் வைக்கும் எனது ஆசை நிராசையாகிப் போனது. சமீபத்தில் கல்லூரி பணியாளர்கள் பழைய ஆவணங்களை கிளறிக் கொண்டிருந்தபோது, சமூகப்பணி இதழ் கிடைக்க நான் அடைந்த மகிழ்ச்சிக்கு எல்லையே இல்லை. பாவலரேறுவின் சில கவிதைகளை பலர் பார்வைக்கு வைக்கலாமே என்ற மகிழ்ச்சி. “யான் பெற்ற இன்பம் பெருக இவ் வையகம்” (தென் மொழி பதிப்ப்பகத்தார் இந்த ஆர்வத்தின் பின்னணியில் இருக்கும் நல்லெண்ணத்தைப் புரிந்துகொண்டு மன்னிப்பார்களாக) பாவலரேறுவின் கவிதைகளில் சில

1.ஊக்கமும் முயற்சியும்

உண்மையும் நேர்மையும்

ஆக்க வினைகளும்

அடிப்படைக் கொள்கைகள்!

ஏக்கம் அகற்று

ஏறு போல் வினை செய்!

தாக்கும் இழிவுகள்

தாமே அகன்றிடும்!

4. ஒழுக்கமே உன்றனை

உயர்த்திடும் படிநிலை

இழுக்கம் இழுக்கு!

இழிவுரும் அதனால்

பழக்கம் கொடியது!

பண்பு பொன்மகுடம்!

இழக்கும் பொழுதுகட்கு

ஈட்டம் நினைந்து பார்!

7. உண்மை வலியது!

உள்ளமும் வலியது!

திண்மை தருவதும்

தேர்வதும் அதுதான்!

மண்மேல் அனைத்தும்

மடிந்து மட்குவன!

எண்மேல் எண்ணிய

ஒருவனாய் இரு நீ!

2. உள்ளம் விழைவதை

அறிவினால் ஓர்ந்து பார்!

தள்ளத் தகுவன

உடனே தள்ளுவாய்!

தள்ளத் தகாதென்று

அறிவு தேரவதை

கொள்ள முயற்சி செய்!

கொடு நினைவகற்று!

5. உயர்வாய் நினைப்பவை

உன்னை உயர்த்தும் !

மயர்வாம் நினைவுகள்

அறிவையும் மயக்கும்!

துயர்வுரும் வினைக்குத்

துணிவு கொள்ளாதே!

அயர்வின்றி இயங்கு

ஆக்கம் துணைவரும்!

8. உயிரை மலர்த்து

உணர்வை அகல் செய்!

பயிர், நீ! கதிர், நீ!

பழம்பெரு வான், நீ!

துயர் கொள்ளும் சிறிய

துகளிலை; நீ,ஓர்

உயிர் ஒளிப் பிழம்பு:

உலக உடம்பு!

3. மாந்த ஒளி நீ

மந்த விலங்கில்லை!

ஏந்தல் என நட!

இளைத்தும் தலை நிமிர்!

காந்தப் பார்வையால்

மக்களைக் கவர்ந்திழு!

சேந்து, அவர் நினைவை

செம்மை நினைவு வார்!

6. உன்றன் விழிகளை

உயர்த்துக வானில்!

உன்றன் செவிகளை

உலகெலாம் பரப்புக!

குன்று பார்! கதிர் பார்!

கோடிவிண் மீன் பார்!

நின்று பார்! நடந்து பார்!

சிறுநீ, உலகம்!

9. உயிரை மலர்த்து

உணர்வை அகல் செய்!

பயிர், நீ! கதிர், நீ!

பழம்பெரு வான், நீ!

துயர் கொள்ளும்

சிறிய துகளிலை; நீ, ஓர்

உயிர் ஒளிப் பிழம்பு:

உலக உடம்பு!

(more…)

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January 10, 2009

Asset Based Community Development

அறிய அறிய கெடுவார் உண்டோ ?
Will anyone suffer by constantly exerting himself to learn?

Social Work as an academic discipline emphasis on learning from the field much before other academic disciplines realized its importance.Indeed the strength of the professionaltraining lies on its field work learning. In field work everybody learns- not only thestudent trainees, but also the teachers.personally and professionally I learned a lot along with my students who were placed under my supervision.
But field work has its own limitations. Unless the students are self motivated it is impossible to motivate them if they decide to comply mechanically to the timings and report submission.
As a teacher of community development, I was assigned community settings for supervising the students. Not only the understanding the intricacies of community is beyond the comprehension of some of the students,the problem will get compounded if the students come from other than community development specialization.
An on average I used to get 20-22 students to guide for two semesters and out of these numbers one or two students are genuinely interested in field work.Supervising these students is always a pleasant experience. We will become co learners and develop a bond transcending teacher student relationship.
In the year 2007-08, I had some ten first year MSW students under my supervision and I decided to involve them in an idea which I was incubating for several years i.e. to understand an urban ward as a community.I selected K.Pudur (Ward No.5 of Madurai Corporation) out of convenience – located closer to our college, can be reached by walking.
Though in 2003 itself I made an attempt to involve students to understand an urban ward and I left it abruptly because I realized that it is beyond my capacity to motivate the students.
In 2003, I was relying only on participatory tools (see the brochure in slide presentation printed for that purpose).Since understanding an area can be facilitated only by using maps and government supplied eye sketches cannot be of much use for our purpose,I learned the art of making customized maps using GPS (for details see first visit to Mekkarai-Thanks to Dr.T. Pavendar of Madurai Kamaraj University and Dr.Gladwin of People’s Action for Development, Vembar for their continuous support). Besides this, my exposure to the concept of ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) gave me enough confidence to “handle the student’s interest” With this new experience I involved the students in an asset mapping exercise using participatory tools including PGIS.It was really a revealing experience worth for my entire life. We walked on almost all the streets, taking tracks and points using Garmin GPS and created a scalable maps which exactly overlapped with Yahoo as well as Google maps.Besides the facilitating skills for PLA,PGIS (Participatory Geo Information System) demands exposure to the ICT also.I realized ICT can be effectively used for social mobilization and empowerment.
As the proponents of the ABCD says, we realized the focusing on the strength of the communities is quite different from focusing on the problems of the community. Every community has its own strength and communities survives on their own. We learned when a foundation is laid for constructing physical structure,foundation for community life is also made simultaneously. The streets, lights, water and other public consumption facilities facilitate and regulate relationship within and outside the community. It is true “a community is a contributor of resources and allies and a provider of pitfalls and opponents”. Within 400 ha of the ward area, we found more than 70 production units of various sizes, produces goods and services which enriches life of communities which they never seen. Apart from these,there are hundreds and hundreds of commercial establishments.We need to open all our senses in order to understand the meaning of the word “interrelationship” and “interdependency”.Even to produce a broomstick to clean our houses,we need to depend on raw material from far away places,perfectly orchestrated by several people.There is a constant and dynamic interaction between people and places.What we learned is made us humble – realized the greatness of scholars and practitioners who dedicated their life to understand the communities and enriched our collective capacity to handle the community affairs with ease and economy.
We found that the ward is endowed with a rich social capital with more than 100 social associations and institutions.
I won’t say that the ward is heavenly – we found poverty, conflict, exploitation, corruption and indifference.. Our communities,to put it Robert Chambers words, are complex, diversified and risk prone and to address this what we need need is open minded learning,innovative micro level experiments.

I thank the students who by their enthusiastic involvement proved that field work can be made as a pleasant experience. Is it not Field is our Supreme Teacher and work is our humble offering at the feet of our great master.

Introduction to Community Asset Mapping

Introduction to Community Asset Mapping

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: k.pudur course)

Wait for another post to learn the outcome of this field work in K.Pudur vegetable Market

November 14, 2008

Pride of Madurai-Smt.Thayammal(1933)

COUNCILOR Smt. THAYAMMAL

(Note: This post is about a document accidentally I have seen it in the district documentation center. The document was about the proceedings of the then Madurai Council in the year 1933 – about a resolution brought by a woman councilor. I was really moved by the words and vision of the resolution. Since I was not permitted to xerox it, I copied it and made a translation. This translation is nothing before the original in Tamil – the handwriting, the phrasing – it was really beautiful and nothing in Madurai stand before the beauty of that document – it was a love and vision personified.

I used the document in one of my monograph published for limited circulation. I was trying my level best to trace out the lineage of that great woman who brought the resolution with some of theMadurai elders, but they could not recollect her. I will be thankful if any one helps me to trace out the origin of that great woman – to simply pay my respect to her lineage.)

PRELUDE

It is an irony when women themselves were not empowered there was a woman in Madurai, some 75 years before, laid the foundation for a dignified living of thousands who were not even considered as human beings at that time.

That woman achieved it not by fighting; she did it with her maternal love and persuasive skills.What she was intended for thousands at that time had now grown into millions.

Here is a story to emulate….and this piece of writing is a humble attempt to propagate the glory, maternal love and affection shown by an ordinary Madurai woman to the neglected…

This piece of writing is an attempt to sustain her vision…an attempt to introspect the past …an attempt in renovating the path on which an ordinary but visionary a Madurai woman walked.

73 YEARS BACK – IN THE YEAR 1933: JUNE 6

It was a hot summer day.

As usual Madurai Municipal Council meeting was held. Sriman V.Muthramier was adorning the chair. Eminent Madurai citizens like Sriman E.M. Gopalakrishna Konar, Sriman L.K. Thulasiram and Sriman. Nallathambi Pillai was adorning the council as members. Among these doyens, there was a women member by name Srimathi. Thayammal.

Even today there are calls for emancipation of women and reservation for women in legislatures.Think about 75 years before. They were literally chained. At such a time, a woman, hailing from an ordinary family gave her voice not for herself, nor for her community, nor for the people whom she represented but for the whole community, which was leading a life about which she felt hurt.

Sriman Muthramier looked at Srimathi Thayammal, who asked permission from the Chair, to move a resolution, signaling to read the resolution. She raised more in sorrow than in anger and read the resolution. Her voice was choked with emotion. But the fire in her and the healing touch of a motherly love and care with which she read the resolution seemed to echo the voice of Meenakshi, the very Goddess of the temple city, feeling for the sad plight of her children whose confidence of leading a honorable life at her abode was being shattered to pieces at her own feet.

Any one who has a sensitive ear can even now hear the resolution that Smt. Thayammal read on that day, 7.6.1933

(Translation of the original resolution – Read the original in Tamil)

Hon’ble Chairman and dear brothers!

All of us are well aware that all the cheris (slums) in our municipal area are unfit for human habitation due to improper maintenance, lack of basic facilities like water, electricity, toilets and even housing. And all of them require our immediate attention.But the financial crisis through which our municipal council passes at present, — forbids us from taking up the work of improvement of all the cheris (slums)simultaneously. I request the honorable members of this august assembly to accord sanction of funds for the improvement of at least two of the following cheris (slums).

1. The scavengers’ colony adjacent to Raja Mill.

2. The cheri (slum) on the west of Police Parade Ground in TPK road [1].

These cheris (slums) should be so modernized by providing basic amenities like housing, hygienic surroundings, water taps / wells, public conveniences, day schools or night schools so as to deserve the title of modern cheris.

Now kindly let me elaborate this issue. It is crystal clear that all the cheris (slums) in our municipal limit sail the same boat and all of them require our immediate care and attention. But taking into consideration the economic condition of the council, I feel reluctant to pressurize the council to start work in all the cheris (slums) simultaneously. But at the same time I’ll be much pleased if the council generously accord sanction of necessary funds to make a beginning at least. When the financial condition of the council improves it is our duty and responsibility to uplift all the cheris (slums). But the work should begin to modernize at least in two cheris (slums), which will act as the model cheris (slums) in future. This is the most pressing work on our hand this year. I need not educate my learned colleagues that this work has to be carried out everywhere without any obstacle and without anybody’s reminder. Postponement of this noble task on the grounds of shortage of funds will only tarnish the image of our city. The shortage of funds may be over come by austerity measures and transfer of funds from various heads like chairman’s salary, cholera staff salary, anti hukewarm fund, purchase of bleaching powder etc to this head of modernization of cheris (slums). Or the honorable chairman may allocate funds from any other means. The point is that the thing should be done and that too, at once. If necessary, the council may seek the financial assistance from the state govt. for the fulfillment of this noble deed.

What we are going to do is not an act of mercy but it is our duty and responsibility to free our fellow human being from the intolerable suffering due to lack of water for drinking / bathing / cleaning which makes the poor people living place a breeding ground of diseases.

I do solicit the cooperation of all members in shouldering the responsibility of uplifting the living conditions of the down trodden, an act which is nothing short of worship to god. Kindly extend your utmost support in passing this resolution unanimously, for true manliness lies not in self-advancement but in selfless service to society. Thank you.

****

While she completed reading the resolution, the most respected members of the council stood-up spontaneously in order to second it and Sriman E.M.Gopalakrishna Konar was quick enough to second it. Sriman Nallathambi Pillai felt extremely sorry for having missed a god gifted opportunity of seconding this historic resolution. Reading his mind, another member Sriman L.K. Thulasiram asked him to wait for a minute. He brought an amendment to Srimathi. Thayammal’s resolution. By the first, the nomenclature was changed from “modern cheris” to “model cheris” and by the second the number of such model cheris as per the wish of Srimathi. Thayammal should be raised to as many as possible. Shri.Nallathambi Pillai seconded the amendments and the resolution with the amendments was unanimously passed as per the wishes of Smt. Thayammal.

The resolution Smt.Thayammal brought was no doubt a world-class resolution. It was basically a swedeshi resolution thought by the people of Madurai for the people of Madurai. The resolution was put into action and 180 houses were constructed to the down trodden in the following five places at that time.

1. Sangili Thoppu 2. Simmakkal 3.Moolakarai 4.Subramaniyapuram 5.Melavasal

These five habitations are not the physical structures. It was the reflection of the conscience ofMadurai city. But what is the present state of these habitations. It looks opposite to the original intention. The present condition of these colonies will definitely prick the conscience of right thinking Maturities. Not only these five, there are more than 200 habitations in Madurai, which is longing for Maduraites love as Smt. Thayammal showed 75 years before.

The occupants of these model cheris at present lead a worse life than their forefathers for whom these colonies were made. Such degeneration in the standard and upkeep of the colonies certainly tells upon the image and glory of this ancient city.

What can we do for these habitations at present?

First of all sincere efforts should be made to renovate these model cheris, the occupants of which do belong to low-income group. The clauses in the original resolution should be fulfilled to the letter, keeping in mind the spirit of the resolution. The living conditions of these colonies should be improved upon so as to meet the basic requirements and comforts of the dwellers.

With a view to glorify and perpetuate the memory of a noble soul, this initiative is should be named after her, as Councilor Smt.Thayammal Memorial Habitation Improvement Program.

Every Maturities should be proud of Smt. Thayammal for her broad social outlook. Even before 75 years, she put forth her vision in such a persuasive way and got succeeded in her mission. Smt. Thayammal was a concrete example to show what the representatives of local self-governments can achieve.

The fact that her descendants are not immediately traceable indicates that didn’t belong to any affluent family. Hence she deserves much more praise.

***

[1] The present Melavasal Slum. Police Parade Ground was called as Kavathu Maidanam

November 13, 2008

Unit for Madurai Studies-An invitation to dream

An invitation to dream about the future of Madurai
I don’t know what motivated me to document the news about Madurai under the banner of Unit for Madurai Studies in MISS. But whatever it might be, it helped me to constructively engage myself and focus my energies, during the testing periods MISS have undergone.
I am proud when I look back the brochure I designed and printed to explain the purpose of the Unit. It is an invitation to dream about the future of Madurai. I will be happy if you take some time to read the brochure. I always felt that the memories associated with Madurai city can provoke a sense of solidarity not only among our students but also with others.
The atmosphere prevailed in MISS at the beginning of 2000 might have made my dreams like the dreams of a dumb, but for the cooperation of the students like Mr. Marirajan and Miss.Meeankshi. Marirajan was a great source of support with his natural interest in documentation and Meenakshi with her family background (Sri.Muthiah who wrote many books on Madras history known to her family) was the first girl placed for her field work in the Unit (along with Mr.Kumanan). (It was really unfortunate that she discontinued her studies. It is very rare to have student like her. I have a lot of pleasant memories about them to write separate posts). In the subsequent years Mr. Nisanth (now lecturer in MISS) and Mr. Karunakaran shared the responsibilities. After that, I find it very difficult to motivate students. After a major surgery in the year 2004, I could not continue the documentation as I did during the previous three years. Reading the news related to Madurai, cutting it, classifying it under 45 headings and preserving it was a great source of learning. More than the learning, insights, the laborious process generated day after day was really marvelous and we felt helpless in comprehending the issues that we documented.
Madurai city is bigger than some of the smaller countries in the world. No doubt the great city and its residents deserve better governance. But the question is whether the city is governed as it deserved? But the documents available with us for the three years (2000-2003) prove that there is an utter lack of vision in governing the city. One can see from the documents that both the politician as well as bureaucrats competing with one another to make a mess out of every thing.
Documents in the unit reveal that it is the River Vaigai, as it brought prosperity in the past also brought 150 crores in its name at the start of this century. Nothing can stand before Vaigai for its contribution in sustaining the livelihoods in Madurai.
Social work departments in the USA and in European universities usually claim that the city where the departments are located is the base for their field practicum. Social work departments in a way wield influence in the municipal governance. But social work institutions in our country, majority of them are located in the major urban ceners are alienated from the city life. This has to be changed. Understanding the settlement / place where one lives will always bring the positive transformation that we expect. Unit for Madurai Studies will help us to attach ourselves with the city life.
**
No doubt the first phase in the Unit of Madurai Studies has not progressed as I expected. Even then it was a source of learning –sown the seeds for continuous life long learning. Some students have made wonderful observations about the issues and life in Madurai – Slums, Waherman, Dalits especially about Arunthathiars, Vaigai River, Secondary Mode of Transport, Foot Loose (unorganized) Laborers, Vegetable Markets, Sanitary Workers are some areas that I can proudly mention.
**
The second phase, as I am seriously contemplating to use information technology to make documentation as a pleasant experience for the students so that many will volunteer in the work. I dream as I dreamt at the dawn of this century, that one day Madurai Institute of Social Sciences will serve as a Knowledge Center to guide the destiny of this great city, in partnership with others.

November 1, 2008

Washer man in Madurai City

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , , — cdmiss @ 12:01 pm

The extended class rooms for MSW students

My interest towards the marginalized communities is the result of my experience as supervisor for the fieldwork programme of Master of Social Work (MSW) students placed in Tamilnadu Theological Seminary’s “Labour and Peasant Center”(TTS-LPC) and IDEAS Institute of Development Education and Action Studies). I have seen with my own eyes how the seeds they have sown before two decades have grown into big trees and provided shadow and shelter to those who needed it. There are several instances, I sincerely attempted to remove the misconceptions about these agencies with some of my friends. I used to get sad with those of my students who were not serious with the works of these agencies and in fact shouted at them that their indifference amounts to urinating over a goldmine than to digout the precious metal there. But those genres of students who used the field work learning opportunities provided by these agencies are shining in the field of development. If TTS-LPC opened my eyes towards urban informal sector, IDEAS took me close to Arunthathiar community.
Why washer man?

The coordinators in TTS-LPC- Rev. Koil Pillai, Mrs. Nirmala Victus and Mr. Jawahar were source of encouragement to me and my students.It is a joy to spend time with them and their staffs during the supervisory visits.I hope that my wish to document the feedback of all my students who did their field work with these agencies may be materialized through this blog..Though there is a lot to write about the work of these agencies, I decided to share my observation about Washer man in Madurai City as a mark of my respect and regard to Miss. Vanitha (one of the good student we had) daughter of Sri. Chinnathambi who did washing when I was a student and then as a warden in our hostel during 70s. His honesty was remarkable and he handed over the students’ the money they forgot to take away from their clothes given for washing. It is this quality of honesty that makes the people to trust on the washer man. Is it not that people who get services from others like plumbers, mechanics, painters, domestic servants and street vendors always suspect them and watch them constantly. Though washer men also belong to the same category of poor, they are trusted upon by others and that make the people to handover clothes worth of thousands and thousands to the washer man and in turn washer man never betrayed our trust.

TTS & Washer man
I still remember the discussions carried out in TTS-LPC, when they thought of organizing a union for washer man of Madurai. Continuous interaction with the washer man subsequently during fieldwork took me to Aruldosspuram, popularly identified as a washer man colony and then to Vaigai River, their work spot,that gave me several wonderful insights about life and livelihood. At my request a student took a research project on washer man and I remember still vividly the time spend in Aruldosspuram and in Vaigai River.
For me research was an excuse to be with them. Personally it was not the outcome of the research, but the process and the clarity we got it from the attempt which was more important.
I feel that this post and the link to the work we did with washer man community is definitely not an attempt to share our work publicly but to gratefully acknowledge the how the seeds sown by (TTS-LPC & IDEAS) have grew.To be with the marginalized sector is not a fashion but of a commitment was a lesson we learnt from these agencies.

Though I was interested to continue my observation I could not do it for personal as well as my inability to inspire my students to continue it. But to be with the washer man will definitely give insights about the livelihood options pursued by our subaltern brethren. I don’t have any regret to put our observation that we did it a decade before rather I feel that our observation has not become obsolete and no one has brought out any document or made any fresh observation about the washer man in Madurai City – so this attempt is a mark of making fresh commitments.
If you feel that it is worthwhile to take few minutes to see the document to mark your concern for Madurai Washer man community, you are welcome and I consider it as a previlage

Washerman & Washing
Draft to comment

Nativity in Social Work Teaching

Empathy யும் புளியங்காயும்
I owe a lot to people with a native wisdom who helped me to understand certain basic concepts that as a social worker I am expected to understand. Native wisdom has the power to clarify complex concepts in a surprisingly simple way. Native wisdom no doubt enrich social work, both teaching and practice, but I have to admit that as a social work educator, I failed to nurture it both in me and in my students, because of my own ignorance about its value. My mind goes blank, if I attempt to recollect what I have learnt it from the classroom as a student. Though I had some good teachers, they could not nail me down with their interpretation dyed with their native wisdom. Even good teachers interpreted certain concepts in such a way that alienated students from the subject. Since, I followed their foot steps, I would have continued the same mistakes with my students unconsciously. (Sorry Students)

It was an ordinary police constable (father of a student) who helped me to better understand the meaning of “SOCIAL” in “SOCIAL WORK” which I proudly shared it in my class room for the past several years. It was Mr. Indira Soundarajan, a popular Tamil writer, who made me to understand the meaning of “community pace” from a native perspective. There are lots of examples like this. That is why I said, I owe a lot to ordinary men & women who took pains to dye me with the native wisdom.

In the beginning of my teaching carrier, I was searching to find out the etimiology of social work i.e. Samoogappani in Tamil, that took me to several Tamil scholars, a few of them were useful and suggested me to refer Tamil Nigandus (Dictionaries), through which I learned about 22 Arams (இருபத்தி இரண்டு அறம் ), an inclusive welfare concept, about which any tamilians can be proud of. Since I was half hearted in my attempt, I could not make any appreciable output out of that.

Some years ago, out of my interest, I arranged for a small interdisciplinary dialogue, to throw light on the principles of social work from the perspective of Tamil literature and culture. We invited Dr. E.K.Ramasamy of Yadhava College (a Periarist) and Dr. Pothi Reddi of American College (a Marxian thinker) for that dialogue. Dr. E.K.R was point blank in his remarks about “self help” – “How can we, who are incapable of preparing a cup of tea in our homes are morally qualified to teach the values of self help? Since the meaning of self help is itself self explanatory, we presume that it needs no further thinking. In a way it is true that we never bothered to probe what impedes self help and the enabling environment that needed to cultivate it both in the personal and in the public arena. After listening the idioms, phrases and proverbs we used to interpret the social work principles, they pointed out the lack of native touch. They suggested to use native proverbs and phrases to interpret (for example for empathy we conventionally use the phrase – putting ourselves in other shoes) and suggested to replace alien proverbs, however it may be popular globally, with native proverbs (for example instead of giving fish, teach people to catch fish)- the rationality behind their suggestion was, the interpretation that we use should fire the imagination of the students – make them to relate it with their life.

After this I literally stopped interpreting certain concepts as we did conventionally, but I could not equip myself to interpret it in a different way. I was feeling helpless and ordinary people came to my rescue.

One such wonderful man I met recently was Sri. Jeyapandian, an ordinary load man in Madurai Central Vegetable Market, with an admirable qualities and native wisdom. Without any formal schooling, he designed more than 100 prototype models, ranging a water splasher to wake anyone from sleep and a robo to safeguard our national boundary. He used scientific principles of mechanics, hydraulics, electronics and computers in designing and developing his prototype models.More than his models, I was interested to listen to him, for the ease with which he used idioms, phrases and proverbs to explain his points.

When he talked about human feelings, he emphasized the need for empathy in his own native way. In Jayapandian’s words “empathy should be like …secreting saliva automatically when we happened to see a person chewing a tamarind fruit” (அடுத்தவங்க புளியங்காயை வாயிலே வச்சதும் நம்ம நாக்கிலே எச்சி ஊருவது போல) . This I can understand better than putting my self in other shoes.

This native touch will definitely enrich our understanding of social work concepts and one can see lot of such examples in management education.

Let us think about giving more and more native touch in social work training

Mr.Jayapandian’s demonstration of remotely operated rifle robo at Madurai Institute of Social Sciences

October 16, 2008

Useful Resouces & Links

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , — cdmiss @ 2:03 am
When I ask my students to read more than the material given in the class room or write assignments, they don’t think of the college library but of the browsing center. Of course they are not totally wrong in their attitude, because a library functioning with a limited budget can’t provide materials related to the newly introduced programs/emerging  concepts. With their limited computer skills many of the students could not get worthy material for the time and amount they spend in the browsing center. For example to get relevant material for JNNURM program a student has spend more than 5 hours and 150 rupees. No doubt it is taxing the students. Besides there is an inequality exists in using the internet resources between the rich and poor students, between boys and girls because girls are expected to return to the hostel/home before 8 pm. That made me to collect the addresses of useful sites so that whenever we demand them to refer additional resources, we can advice them to go to a specific site, so that students can use the internet resources much more efficiently. This may sound funny for the students from elite institutions where the UGC itself is subsidising many facilities of their college through which students are benefitted. Rich is becoming richer and the poor are becoming poor is also true as far as academic institutions are concerned. The elite institutions where the economically better of are studying are subsidising certain services to their students through grants and projects.
The addresses given in this site may not be relevant or may be obsolete for those students who do their community development in the so called elite institutions. These addresses aimed at those students doing their MSW course in institutions where there is no subsidized IT facilities are not available.
The addresses will grow depending on the demands of the students
Following is the list of useful websites and other resources for student’s reference
Government of India
Ministry of Rural Development Government of India
Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
National Institute of Urban Affairs
Goverment of Tamilnadu
Departments
Rural Development & Panchayat Raj Department
Housing and Urban Development Department
Human Rights
Introduction to Human Rights
Human Rights Commission – India

October 15, 2008

Participatory Rural Appraisal

Since there is an increasing number of students and other friends working in the nonprofit sector have repeatedly approached me to provide some basic material related to PRA, LFA and Livelihood Framework etc, I have decided to put the material in the cdmissmdu (community Development) blogspot. I sincerely acknowledge all the sources from where the content is taken. This compilation will be useful both for the beginners and all those who want to refesh the subject matter. Please post a comment / suggestions so that I will improve it in order to make learning and understanding participatory methodologies as a pleasant experience. Apart from the original sources, I gratefully acknoweldge my sincere gratitude to Dr. John Devavaram, Founder of SPEECH & RCPDS who introduced me to PRA and Mr. Rajendra Prasad, Executive Director, PAD who sustained my interest in PRA and Mr. Balamurugan of Save the Children India, Mr. Muniasamy of CCFC and Mr. Rajesh Kumar and other staffs in SPEECH and PAD who made PRA as a pleasnt experience.
Participatory Rural Appraisal Part I
Participatory Rural Appraisal Part II
A compilation of material by S.Rengasamy, Faculty Member, Madurai Institute of Social Sciences collected from various sources to help the students and development workers to understand and refrsh the basic concepts and tools of PRA

Madurai Vegetable Markets- Sociological Museums

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , , — cdmiss @ 5:41 pm

Mr.Udayakumar & Ranjithkumar II MSW CD(R&U) have been placed in the Unit for Madurai Studies for their III Semester Field Work and they were assigned to study about the Vegetable Markets in the Madurai City. As our previous work in K.Pudur ward and in Pudur Market revealed that vegetable markets seems to be sociological museums -one can learn about many things. This duo have taken more than 200 photographs about the markets and created a table descrbing the features of the vegetable markets. It is decided to georeference the markets in the Madurai city,with the help of Dr. T. Pavendar. Completing that task may take little more time but we have determined to do that. Working in the markets made us to realize that both the policy makers at the national as well as state level and the local governments ignore these markets without realizing these markets potentialities to promote decent & sustainable livelihoods for a sizable sections of the urban population. If the policy makers decides to seek the participation of the poor vendors,keeping away the power brokers, many,many things are possible.We dont know what makes our policy makers to be blind and insensitive to some of the basic issues. We hope that our work in the markets will bring forth learnings that are truely revealing. Wait for that revealing moments

Teaching Regional Planning

After two and half hours of tiring lecture, I was told that someone was waiting for me in my room.By then I was trying to interest my student on regional planning. It has been my topic of interest for years; when the long lecture ended I remembered that someone was waiting for me. When I went back to my room I could not find anyone, I went to canteen for a coffee and in my return, I found two senior professors from Meenakshi Govt. College for Women waiting for me. After a formal greeting, one of them informed me that she had accidentally visited this blog and to her surprise found the materials related regional planning in the site. I heard from her that regional planning has been introduced as an elective subject in M.Sc Geography under the new CBCS and they have been trying hard to find materials for their students. This blog made them find that regional planning is also included in the MSW curriculum and that made them to approach us (Madurai Institute of Social Sciences) to get some useful reference material as the resources related to regional planning in their library was totally damaged in previous year’s floods.

I recollected my own experience of running here and there to collect materials when we decided to have a paper on regional planning in our curriculum by then was abstruse; I had to work on my own interest to build some good material for the paper. Over the years, I developed materials relevant to our syllabus. When some of the affiliated colleges in MK university area started MSW course, the instructors of that regional planning paper advised their students to get it from their friends doing MSW in our college. Though I was disgusted about their behavior, in order to avoid the hardships faced by the students doing community development specialization in other colleges, I decided to upload the learning material given to my students in this blog and that has been noticed by the teachers like me who were infact searching for resources to help their own students.The decision of these two professors to visit our college itself is a proof for their concern towards their students. More than that their visit made me to realize the power of technology… thanks to Google with its user friendly technology motivated even computer illiterate like me to use its facilities. An enabling environment is needed even to share what we have.. Is it not?

If I recollect my experiences in teaching regional planning to social work students, it was really a frustrating experience. I thought of recommending to take away that paper from the syllabus but for the request of a fraction of my own alumni who really felt that knowledge about regional planning helped them to grasp the nuances of development. One alumnus told me that his knowledge about viability, range of goods and the concept of innovative firms made others to feel that he might have done his MBA additionally. No doubt it sensitized a limited number of students about the need for spatial social justice. But I have to admit that they are very few in number. My teaching experience in the subject has been very frustrating. Majority of my students always give me looks that admit their indifference to the subject.

But teaching of regional planning and adopting it social work curricula benefited me immensely..widened my cognitive horizons and perception. It sharpened my facilitating skills in participatory rural appraisal (PRA), it sensitized me about the intra village disparities and to produce beautiful self explanatory PRA visuals. My interest in regional planning made me a graphicrate.. it slowly made me to learn about GIS and to adapt GPS in PRA practice, normally not of an interesting area for social work educators. My attempt to incorporate GPS in PRA improved the quality of social mapping and reliability of household related information generation. This combination made both the villagers and the NGO’s field staff to feel that social mapping as a pleasant experience. (I am planning to document some of these experiences as an example for best practices in peoples’ participatory geographic information system- PGIS)
This is the positive side but on the negative side, to admit honestly I could not create any interest with my own MSW students. In an utter frustration I recommended to replace regional planning paper with the new livelihood promotion paper. Since locality/regional development is inseperable from livelihood promotion, I retained many of the core concepts that are borrowed from regional planning.
As the semester is coming to an end, I realized that this is the last semester for regional planning paper and it won’t be taught as a subject matter in the semesters to come. It is time to bid goodbye to regional planning from MISS. The approach of the two professors made me to share whatever I have developed. so far But, I feel honored when I think that the material may be better appreciated outside than my students and my colleagues.
Good bye regional planning from MISS and have a nice and fruitful days in the Meeanakshi College.
Thanks to professors Dr. Sethu Rakkayee and Dr. Rameshwari of Sri. Meenakshi Govt.College for women for honoring regional planning by visiting MISS with the real spirit of searching knowledge, the basic quality of a true teacher.
(Note: The entire material is uploaded in scribd site (see the Community Development Specialization Syllabus Post –Paper 16. Regional Planning in this blog ) and ppt presentation will be uploaded in this site after a little bit of editing)

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