Coimbatore chapter of Friends of Tribals Society plans to cover 600 tribal villages
COIMBATORE: Tribals have a wealth of knowledge in indigenous medicine and are very industrious people, S.V. Balasubramaniam, Chairman of the Bannari Amman Group of Companies, said here on Sunday.
Inaugurating the Coimbatore chapter of the Friends of Tribals Society, he said that progress of the nation would be complete only if its tribals had access to the same kind of facilities like the people who lived in urban areas. “Unless we bring the poor people to the level of the urbane, we cannot expect them to be dutiful citizens,” he said.
He pointed out that the rate of literacy in the rural areas, especially the tribal ones, was abysmally low and lauded the efforts of the Friends of Tribals Society in undertaking the task of educating tribal children.
The Friends of Tribals Society, through its Ekal Vidyalaya programme, took education to the remote tribal pockets in the country, where electricity, roads and infrastructure were a rarity, M.L. Jain, National Secretary of the Society said. The programme reached four lakh villages in the country. The Ekal Vidyalayas, one-teacher schools worked on the principle of taking the school to the children if the children were unable to attend it.
Currently, there were 23,192 Ekal Vidyalayas in the country. By 2011, the society was aiming to have one lakh Ekal Vidyalayas all over the country. Tamil Nadu alone had 830 Ekal Vidyalayas. He said that health and economic uplift of the tribals also fell into the ambit of the society’s activities. It trained women in the villages in health and hygiene. These health workers went from door to door spreading awareness on healthcare. It also initiated the ‘gram vikas’ project through which the villagers were given saplings of fruit trees and were trained to cultivate orchards. The method of producing organic manure from cowdung and vermicomposting were also taught to them so that they could eke out a living and be economically self-reliant, Mr. Jain said. The society was also organising the tribals to be aware of their rights and fight for them.
The Coimbatore chapter aimed to cover 600 tribal villages in the Nilgiris Biosphere. Presently, it was supporting 90 schools in Mettupalayam, Coonoor, Pykara, Masinagudi, Pandalur and Gudalur. By 2008, it planned to increase the number of schools to 270. In the Sathyamangalam region, it was planning to start Ekal Vidyalayas in areas including Thalavadi and Hasanoor areas, president of the Coimbatore chapter, Shreegopal Maheshwari, said.
The National President of the Society, Rameshwar Kabra, presided over the function.