Inspiring Lives

Lady Leader of the Landless

Chinna Pillai

The 12-year-old bride came to stay with her husband, Perumal, in Pullucheri, Madurai district in Tamil Nadu. Chinna Pillai used to go along with women from the village to work in the fields of the high caste landowners. Exploiting the vulnerability of these landless dalits, the wealthy landowners paid them below normal wage. Their pleading for an increase in their daily wages went unheard.

To make ends meet, these hapless labourers were forced to borrow at a high interest of 300 per cent from moneylenders. Chinna Pillai, now a mother of two sons and three daughters, also became a victim of this oppression.

Local MP Vasimalai had an idea to save these poor rural folk from the slavery of the powerful moneylenders. The former student of the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) had given up an attractive job to work at the grassroots level. Later, he headed the Dhan Foundation. Vasimalai asked the women to form groups of 20; everyone had to deposit Rs 20 monthly. The cumulative amount was then lent to one of the group members at an interest of 60 per cent. Though this interest too sounds big, compared to the 300 per cent interest of the moneylenders, it was much less.

Cover of the October 2022 issue of The Teenager Today featuring Sriya Lenka

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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.