Kerala

No money, no worry in Edamalakkudy

Doraisami with his wife at Ambalapadikudy, Edamalakkudy, the remotest tribal grama panchayat in the Munnar forest division in Idukki district.

Doraisami with his wife at Ambalapadikudy, Edamalakkudy, the remotest tribal grama panchayat in the Munnar forest division in Idukki district.  

The recent demonetisation of currency notes is being widely talked about, but there is one grama panchayat inside the Munnar forest division where the government move’s impact is practically nil. At Edamalakkudy, which has no financial institution or ATM, money transaction is at an incipient stage. The village, with a population of nearly 2,500 Muthuvan tribespeople, was cut off from the mainstream for long. Only when a panchayat was created six years ago, did people from outside arrive there. Money dealings began only then.

How did they live without money for so long? According to Doraisami of Ambalapadikudy, a member of the tribe, they were accustomed to living without money.

A reason was that one had to walk over 30 kilometres to Munnar for money transactions.

In the settlements, there was no tea shop or grocery shop, so money was practically of no use then. He said their only requirement was betel which they chewed in the cold climate. “For that one or two members walked for hours to Munnar with produce like wild cardamom or forest honey. The money was spent on purchasing betel and they returned without money,” he says.

Even to buy a matchbox they had to trek the same distance. So houses used to share fire. He has memories of days when they made fire using stones kept for the purpose and the dried bark of a particular tree.

Farm produce and the milk too were shared in the settlement. The Muthuvan is a reclusive tribe that prefers remote forest areas as their habitats. The tribe is mainly spread in the Munnar-Marayur areas of forest.

“Without entertainment or shopping facilities, what is the need for money? We went to sleep with the approach of night and woke up early. This was because with nightfall wild animals roam about,” says Rangaraj. Days were spent in farming or collecting forest produce and by evening everyone shared it in the settlement, he says.

Money started arriving at the settlements recently with the younger generation working outside. “There are more fights now. Earlier there used to be peace,” he says.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 3:35:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/No-money-no-worry-in-Edamalakkudy/article16443241.ece

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