The History of real



Developmental impact in Vedasandur Taluk in Tamilnadu India through the involvement of REAL over the past 25 years

‘Green memories of 1970s’!

REAL completed 25 years of its mission with the people of Vedasandur, in.2003.

A discussion on  ‘how to celebrate?’ begun! A study on thr development impact of 25 years was identified as a meaningful way to celebrate. 

The impact assessment of 25 years began with the people recalling their memories. The staff members of REAL under the coordination of Mr. L. Peter began the exercise of sitting with the members of the community and recording their ‘green memories’. 

Kaliammal of Ramanaickanoor recalled her trip to Madras in 1982 to participate in the state level workers rally. Selvam from Kanakkapillaiyur recalled the incident of REAL staff Chellappan being beaten with a slipper by the ‘Naicker’ for sitting in the village bench. When the Naicker was made to apologize publicly, the untouchability practice in the villages of Vedasandur took the first step towards its exit. The land issue in Alachankulam was remembered by almost every one as the mile stone incident that made a change in the caste discrimination that was dominant in the villages of Vedasandur in the 70s. The piece of land allotted to a Dalit family was in the procession of Konar.  This piece of land was retrieved through occupation. The members fondly remembered the experience of harvesting the paddy in the middle of the night, cooking the harvested paddy and eating it before sunrise!

At the personal level, the members of the community remembered Paulraj, Lucy and others who worked for REAL, popularly known then as ‘AICUF Sangham’.  They remembered the community life in the health center at Vallipatti. The joy of eating together. The ‘bullet motorcycle’ ridden by Henry was a fondly remembered mascot of the struggle against caste discrimination and untouchability. Banumathi of Koviloor who was a health worker in REAL recalled how people in the villages refused water for her because she worked for the ‘AICUF Sangham’. 

Selvaraj recalled the NFE class that he attended. … ‘Paulraj took two boxes of matches from his pocket… he lit one stick…. Then two…. And finally he held all the sticks from both the boxes in his hands and asked me to light it…. The fire was strong… the light lit up the entire place…. He told us that this is the power of unity. I understood the strength of our unity that day ’…

History of ‘Vedasandur’  

Vedasandur was originally a forest area. The name comes from the tradition of the small hunters called the ‘ Vedars’ coming here to sell their kills and forest produce collected on certain days of the week called the ‘ Sandhai’. The forest in the area had some definite characteristics based on its geology. It had mild topographic undulations and poor quality of topsoil. The vegetation was confined to short variety thorny trees and shrubs in between. The only fruit tree was tamarind. 

The water resources for the entire area is provided by the rivers that transverse the geographical area. Kodaganaru that originates in the Palani hills and runs South – North and Santhanavardini and Kallaru rivers that run East to West. The entire area had a network of water storage structures in the form of tanks and ponds. The dam in Azagapuri is one of the major water regulators for the area. However, the water and soil management in the area has not been adequate to cope up with the silting of the water storage structures, which ultimately led to the breach of the Azagapuri dam and the consequent floods in Vedasandur in 1977. AICUF  (All India Catholic University Federation), which is a National student organization in India, came to the area to provide relief to the people affected by floods. After the initial relief  the need of rehabilitation surfaced. The rehabilitation efforts matured into a long term development plan for the people in the community.  REAL emerged as a development organization to work for the development of the people of Vedasandur towards their long term and sustainable development.

Socio- political profile of the area

The caste composition of the area has three major histroy lines

The Naik dynasty represented by Muthukrishnappa Naickar. This monarch constructed the rock fort in Dindigul. This is the historical contribute for the land holding and community leadership being held by the Naickers all along the decades till date. The Naickers come under the Backward community classification of the Government.

The Tippusulthan dynasty.  This history brought in a sizable quantum of people with Islamic faith into the demographic population of the area. The community brought along with them the monopoly of tannery industry. The industry opened work opportunities in tanneries in the traditional caste system, “Removal of the Dead” was the entitlement of a  section of the Dalit community called ‘Sakkiliars’ (also called as Arundadiyars) The entitlement included removing the dead animals and processing the hide into footwear for the members of the land lord families. The coming in of the tannery industry opened the doors of this section of the people to join the demography of Vedasandur. The proportion of Scheduled caste population in the block is    16.35 % ( 96-97)

The sizable proportion of Arundadiyars in the Vedasandur block comes from this source. An interesting part of this history is the occupational ‘cris cross’ for the Arundadiyars between tanneries and agriculture.  While a smaller proportion of the families from Arundadiyar communities stayed with tannery work as their livelihood occupation, a larger Proportion chose to shift to lively hold through agriculture as choice.  They utilized the opportunities for share cropping offered by the Naicker landlords. This proposition helped them to acquire the skill in agriculture work. The share cropping arrangement opened up the opportunities to acquire small pieces of agricultural lands for themselves.  The proportion of agricultural workers to total workers in the block is 82.2 % ( 96-97)

The third stream of community composition in Vedasandur is from the western ghat ranges that enabled a certain geographical migration along its terrain. The Gounders from the Coimbatore came to the Vedasandur area for trading and commercial interests. The interest of this section of the community in Vedasandur was economic and political. The community today holds the majority of trade and investments. At the political arena, the Vedasandur area has established the tradition of the Deputy speaker of the Assembly being from this area. 

Average size of household: 4.3 (96-97)

Vedasandur Taluk rural population: 84,424  (42088 Male and 42336 Female) (96-97)

2647 Families covered through SHG membership. 1500 families through other development projects of REAL. Total direct coverage of families : 4147


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