Opus Prize a divine gift for my housing programme, says Krishnammal

STRIVING FOR THEIR WELFARE: Krishnammal Jagannathan with the Dalits in Nagapattinam district.  

Special Correspondent

Gandhian will continue to work for the uplift of Dalit women

NAGAPATTINAM: “My mission is to provide livelihood by abolishing landlessness among the poor and bring humanness and dignity to their lives. Bridging the gap between the rich and poor, bringing the landless and landed rich to the negotiating table to share and care for each other is most fulfilling to me.”

This was the immediate reaction of 82-year-old Krishnammal Jagannathan, Gandhian and secretary of the Land for Tillers Freedom (LAFTI) in Nagapattinam district, who is the winner of this year’s prestigious Opus Prize. She won it for her “faith-based humanitarian work around the world,” and will be awarded the prize at a function in Seattle University, Washington, on November 18. Recipient of several awards, including the Swami Pranavanandha Award (1987), Jamnalal Bajaj Award (1988), Padma Shri (1989), Bhagwan Mahaveer Award (1996), Gandhigram Rural Institute Award (1998), Women’s World Summit Foundation Award, Switzerland (1999), Best Woman Award (2004) and Indira Ratna Award (2005), she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (2006) and selected one among 1,000 ‘peace women’ across the globe by Geneva Women’s Committee (2007).

Ms. Krishnammal, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the Opus Prize was a divine gift for her housing programme. “I am following the principles Ramalinga Swamigal and everything is possible,” she remarked. “I am planning a housing programme for the poor and the oppressed in Nagapattinam district through the LAFTI. I have already helped more than 12,000 Dalit women get one acre of land each since 1992 with subsidy. I will continue to work for the uplift of Dalit women. I am planning to help 3,800 more Dalit women of three other districts to get land loan shortly, said Ms. Krishnammal, who is also secretary of the LAFTI. “A large number of Dalit families are in poor economic condition and living in small huts. The LAFTI has plans to provide small houses (20 ft x 20 ft) for the poor and oppressed people in the district. I have appealed to philanthropists and charitable institutions to contribute for this noble cause. This Opus Prize money will be very useful for this noble project. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has donated Rs.8 lakh for purchasing a fly ash brick making machine and the Neyveli Lignite Corporation has also come forward to help the project,” she said.