Inspiring Lives

A Model Panchayat President

R. Shanmugam sitting near some trees

Odanthurai in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu was a non-descript panchayat in India. But it is now a model for self-governance and income-generation. Winning many awards, it has attracted dignitaries like the President of the World Bank, ministers from South African countries, researchers, government officials and students from 43 countries.

The panchayat, nestled in the foothills of the Nilgiris, has won accolades for supplying drinking water to all its villagers, providing housing to all, tapping renewable energy and for adopting several green measures. It also has a corruption-free administration and its annual income has grown multi-fold.

The credit goes to R. Shanmugam, who took over as the panchayat’s president in 1996, though he had studied only up to the tenth grade.

The pilot project of the late Chief Minister Jayalalitha’s Pudhu Vaazhvu Thittam (Poverty Reduction Scheme) was first executed here. They have implemented the state government’s Green House Project Scheme under which more than 850 houses were built, the highest in the state, and handed over to the poor. The panchayat was then declared hut-less.

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F. M. Britto

F. M. Britto serves the marginalized people in a remote Chhattisgarh village. He is the author of six books including 99 Changemakers and Keys To Success And Happiness published by Better Yourself Books.