A small colony inhabited by Dalit families near Papasanipalli was named ‘Aung San Suu Kyi Colony’ on Saturday to mark the visit of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader. Thanking the village people for the gesture, she said: “My name means a bright collection of strange victories. I hope you will have bright and unusual victories,” she told the people. Thanking them for giving her a “special link with the village”, she reminded them that victory, however, does not come by itself. “You have to work hard for it,” she said.
Are there toilets?
Predictably, Ministers and officials always try to present government schemes as the best working models. A puncturing of this bubble came from an unexpected quarter, the Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh. He asked a cluster of 10 self-help group (SHG) women how many among them had toilets in their homes. It turned out that only three of them did. Turning to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, he said: “That is what you need to tackle.”
Earlier in the day, in the course of a presentation on the success of the MNREGA, the Chief Minister had mildly chastised the Union Minister for “taking all the credit”, and the remark on the toilet seemed like a clever payback.
Ministers as translators
The visit of Ms. Suu Kyi had the three Ministers — Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Mr. Kiran Kumar and Andhra Pradesh Revenue Minister N. Raghuveera Reddy — in unusual roles as translators. They took turns to enthusiastically convey to the visiting dignitaries the views of the women SHG and MNREGA workers.
No stopping migration
Ms. Suu Kyi’s question on whether 100 days of work under the MNREGA was good enough, struck a chord with many in the drought-hit Rayalaseema region. Some of the women who had interacted with her earlier, from Dinnameedapalyam near Papasanipalli, told this correspondent that most people from their villages had migrated to places like Bangalore in search of work. “Many of them are garment workers. Those who have stayed back in the villages are either old people or young children,” said Nagaratnamma G.
Taste of local culture
While the villages she visited wore a festive look with rangoli patterns, Ms. Suu Kyi also got a taste of Rayalaseema snacks when she was served laddus and kajjayas. She was presented with a silk sari and green bangles. The string of pink roses she wore in her hair, seemed to fascinate the women of the village.