The History of real



Phases of REAL’s involvement in Vedasandur Taluk

Involvement of REAL in the Taluk has been in four broad time spans. The time spans and component of each time span is as follows:

  1978- 1982 1983-1986 1987-1993 1994-2003
Number of villages of direct involvement 10 villages around Koombur     117 villages in Vedasandur Taluk
Number of families of direct involvement 250-300     4147 families / 17,832 individuals. 21% of the taluk rural population
Intervention approach Untouchability and land ownership issues for the Adundadiyars. Castee/class organization in community based on land and castee issues Integration of castee on class perspectives. Integration of community organization with mainstream political identities

New developmental base line for the community.

Reorganization of REAL

Development of families and communities through self-help. Economic support to village and taluk level organizations through savings and credit
Forms of community based organizations Grama Samudaya Marumalarchi Iyakkam

Integration of the community based organizations with 1. Ambedkar sangham

2. Mainstream political identities


1.Kudagu Pengal Iyyakkam

2.Vivasaya Thozhilalar Munnetra sangham

3. Kudagu Vangi (Bank)

Developmental impact of time span: 1978 – 1986

1. Change in caste relationships:

The class / caste relationship between the Naicker land lords and the Arundadiyar laborers who worked for them were distinct and distant. In the agreement of share cropping, the norm of 2/3 for the Naicker and 1/3 for the worker was honored. The norms of share were will honored. In wage matters the scope for negotiation was negligible. The nominal wage was Rs.1.50 per day (77-78). Most of the payment was in the form of grain. Payments were adjusted against advance in payments taken, at the discretion of the landlord. The Child from the families of workers being part of the work force in form productivity was a common norm.

However, on caste lines the rules were implicit. Untouchability was strictly followed. Village teashops had the double tumbler system. In public places, Dalits were not permitted to sit, leave alone sitting on a bench. In Pudukottai when a Dalit was appointed as a clerk in a ration shop, he began his new appointment standing the whole day. After weeks, he took a used drum, put old gunnysacks on it and used it as a makeshift chair for his sitting. He never used the chair that was provided for the fear of repercussion. During the flood situation in 1977, none of the landlords responded to provide any relief to their workers who were the victims of the floods. This was the situation that necessitated identities such as AICUF to enter the area for relief and subsequent rehabilitation of the flood victims. The student volunteers of the AICUF engaged in the house construction as part of rehabilitation were shocked by the exploitative system of the caste discrimination and decided to bring about a change in it. One of the basic intervention strategies to address caste discrimination was building of ‘pakka’ houses for the dalits. The approach was to empower Dalits through decision making and participation as a collective identity. The approach was an effective trend set towards a caste relationship of justice and rights in Vedasandur. .

When Chellappan, staff of REAL was beaten with a slipper, in Koomboor village, for the offence of sitting on the bench meant only for the caste people, the first case of PCR (Protection of civil rights) was filed against the accused by REAL. When the accused was forced to apologize in public and case withdrawn, the retaliation was in the form of landlords refusing to employ all those who were relating to REAL. But the self confidence of the people acquired through this experience helped them to identify quick and appropriate alternatives as an alternate livelihood option, 25 mat weaving looms were introduced by REAL in the communities. This broke the practice of boycott of wage labour which was being used as a mechanism to perpetuate caste discrimination.

To sustain caste equality as a community practice, a little over 50 PCR cases were filed by REAL on instances of caste discrimination. Anticipating repercussion of this action with more severity, REAL worked out without a contingency plan for sustaining a trend. This plan included provision of food at subsidised cost, and alternate employment options.

After the initial rigidity of caste oppression was shaken, REAL adopted a mass approach for integration as a process of integrated community development. This was through the health program for total community and sports and games activity for the youth in the community. REAL organized these programmes under the banner of Grama Samudhya Marumalrchi Iyakkam (GSMI) (Movement for Village community renaissance). The primary membership of GSMI which consisted of Dalits gave them the much needed bargaining power to negotiate the non-Dalits and deal with the government authorities as a collective identity.

The constant monitoring of the strengths and constrains of the on going initiatives identified the need for a broad based organization to build on the strength of people to address caste/ class issues. The follow up action was the promotion an umbrella organization with the membership of various social organizations, The banner for this federation identity was Uzaikkum Makkal Inaippu Iyakkam (UMII) : (Movement for workers organization). This movement formed alliances with the youth association in Koviloor and Agricultural. labour Union of Eriyodu. UMII organized a mega rally in Vedasandur, which created a record on mass mobilization of the worker’s force. UNII in the path of its consolidation over the next phase of its activation merged with Tamilaga Makkal Munnani (TPF) which emerged as a plat form of various mass organizations in Tamilnadu.

This social mobilization process undertaken in the Vedasandur area during the period 1978 to 1986 resulted in a ‘turn around’ of caste relationships in the community. The main contribute of this turn around was the social and political space entitlements achieved by the Dalits as their right and a precondition for their liberation and development.

The developmental impact in areas of caste relationships were as follows

Untouchability, which was being practiced as a social system in the entire area developed cracks as a community system.The change was from a community system to the option of the individual For example, teashops adopting double tumbler system saw the threat in continuing it as a system. Individual teashop owners choose option as found practical by them. Few abolished the system for the fear of the law. One or two teashops in the village chose the option of closing down to any change. Many others strategically changed over to the ‘plastic use and throw’ tumblers in their shops! Now

Dalits can wear slippers, ride on by-cycles, or enter a ‘caste-street’ without any fear. In Koombur, where the discrimination was highest today dalits can walk, shop and move around with freedom. The caste based compulsion of work under the name of tradition such as announcing death and dream beating for funerals by dalits has been reduced to the option of the individual.

The caste relationship between the Dalits and non-Dalits, which became critical to the extent of employment boycott, got normalized through the integration approach adopted by REAL. Members from both the communities began to see common problems such as land, water and productivity, which was an effective factor for integration. This was the significant outcome during the time phase of 1983-1986.

The social relationship between the two improved over time. Integration between the two, which was initiated during the latter part of the 78-82 periods, had a strong base for its growth through cultural media such a worshiping of common gods, celebration of common festivals. Members of the community who were part of the exercise confirmed that the level of integration is in almost all areas of social and economic interaction, other than marriage.


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