150 dimensions of an Indian village

A view of Podagatlapally village in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

A view of Podagatlapally village in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.   | Photo Credit: By Arrangement

An NGO tries to find the ‘soul’ of a 750-year-old village

What can be called the soul of a village? How can it be identified? How can one map the path of the village’s transformation?

This is a question that the Gramodaya Chamber of Commerce and Technology (GCOT) has been trying to answer. The non-governmental organisation, run by Damakkapuram Vasanth Kumar of Buchinepally near here, has tried to develop a template for a study of a village which would help provide a road map for its development that is specific for the village.

Mr. Vasanth Kumar, also known as Delhi Vasanth Kumar, is better known for his 2000 km padayatra to New Delhi in 2007 to highlight the agrarian distress that was driving farmers to end their lifes. He feels his effort paid off with the Centre declaring a loan waiver scheme for the farmers.

Mr. Vasanth Kumar established GCOT to mark the Centenary celebrations of the Osmania University.

GCOT has drawn up a template for the micro study of the village and its first case study is of Podagatlapally in Ravulapalem mandal of East Godavari of Andhra Pradesh. The study taken up to mark 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi is aptly called ‘150 dimensions of an Indian village: A case study of Podagatlapally’. Mr. Vasanth Kumar roped in a number of organisations for the study.

The report on Podagatlapally shows that the village is spread across 3.5 kilometres radius with a population of about 7,000. It was estimated that the village was established about 750 years ago as the present existing temples — Muthyalamma, Poleramma and Somalamma — date back to that period. The Sanskrit High School, in the present form, in the village has about 200 years of history.

The village panchayat was formed in 1965 with four hamlets. The village, was once located adjacent to river Godavari, it was the entry point to Konaseema when there was no road connectivity to the region. As frequent floods disturbed the village it was shifted to higher ground long back. In 1940 and 1953 the village faced severe floods but in 1980 the impact was relatively less due to strengthening of the river bund.

The village has a choultry — Sri Uppalapati Janakiyyamma Annadana Satram — established by Raja Janakiyyamma. He had donated 365 acres for the choultry to offer food for those in the needy, with an estimate that foodgrains from one acre would be required to feed one-day’s visitors. But now the choultry is left with only 160 acres and remaining was occupied by others.

The village has a tank in the middle of the village spread over some four acres.

This village has contributed to Sanskrit, Mathematics and music. Famous Vedic scholar late Remilla Surya Prakasha Sastry was a native of this village. In 1957, late Bulusu Venkateswarlu from this village had received Sahitya Academy award for his book ‘Thousand Steps to God.’

Podagatlapally was famous for the almanac prepared by Pidaparthy family who have been preparing the almanac for several generations. “The purpose of the study is to identify the soul of the village, its history, transformation that has taken place and the areas in which the village can be developed. This was conducted in a limited time and there is a need to focus more for a greater in-depth study,” Mr. Vasanth told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 6:10:40 PM |

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