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Kovalam's first Akshaya e-kendra entrepreneur in crisis

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  • timothy leoraj
    An SOS from Kovalam Reema Narendran First Published : 26 Feb 2009 01:04:00 AM IST Last Updated : 26 Feb 2009 04:15:53 PM IST THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On Kallan
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27, 2009
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      An SOS from Kovalam

      Reema Narendran
      First Published : 26 Feb 2009 01:04:00 AM IST
      Last Updated : 26 Feb 2009 04:15:53 PM IST

      THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On Kallan Sayippu Road in Kovalam, there is this little house with misery written all over it. And even on the faces of its inhabitants - the city’s first Akshaya e-kendra entrepreneur Somasundaram, his wife, his sick father-in-law, his mother-in-law and three little children, who hardly get one square meal a day.

      ``I have taught computer to scores of students in this panchayat without taking a pai from them. Now when my children sit at home without food and without money to pay their school fees, I feel defeated,’’ said Somasundaram, the first person in the city to be part of the Akshaya e-literacy programme. What is worse is that he has been served with an eviction notice, for not repaying the bank loans.

      Somasundaram, whose fancy was caught by the e-literacy programme of the State, had taken a loan for Rs 2 lakh from the Canara Bank to set up an Akshaya Centre at Kovalam Junction. Apart from this, three Akshaya centres were opened by other entrepreneurs in the Venganoor panchayat.

      ``Somasundaran worked sincerely in the areas allotted to him and over 90 percent of the households in Vellar, Kovalam, Thozhichil and Muttacaud are now e-literate. However, the other three centres were a flop and when they take into account the panchayat as a whole, the Information Kerala Mission considers the attempt a failure,’’ explained Shobanakumari, ward member, Kovalam.

      Putting his heart and soul to make the programme a success, Somasundaram would teach students in the SC/ST category and even those in the general category without taking any fee from them. ``For those who could not go to the Akshaya centre, he would set up the computer at a nearby house. All the five wards in the panchayat are e-literate, thanks to this one committed person,’’ said Venganoor panchayat president Sheela Badran.

      But as the digital divide at Venganoor blurred, so did Somasundaram’s hopes. Having set up subcentres across the panchayat, he ran into debts.

      Computers had to be bought and teachers had to be paid. It meant two other loans from the SBT and a local chit fund, for which he mortgaged his wife’s house. ``I am an orphan. I didn’t ask for any dowry when I married. I never wanted to create any difficulty for my wife’s parents. Now I am upset by the fact that I am the cause of worry for them in their old age,’’ said Somasundaram.

      The family is in dire straits and the stove is hardly lit. Not to mention the mental exhaustion.

      Somasundaram has knocked on every possible door for the money that he has to get from the government, right from the Chief Minister’s office down to the panchayat. ``I wanted to make this project a success in my panchayat. I thought it was a great initiative by the government. But now, I can’t even see a single hand that would help me out from this crisis,’’ he said.

      Shobanakumari said that the IT Mission did little to monitor or sustain the programme. ``This was a programme that could have been conducted very effectively and in the second phase they had promised to use these centres for e-payment of telephone and electricity bills. The service charge would have been an income for these entrepreneurs. However, none of these materialised and the panchayat too seems to have lost interest now,’’ she said.

      The panchayat president said that the Venganoor panchayat had remitted all the money for the project that they were supposed to remit. But the district office of the Akshaya said that the delay in payment to Akshaya entrepreneurs was because the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat was yet to deposit their portion of the funds. ``The grama panchayat and the block panchayat have put in their share. Only if the district panchayat remits its portion, can we give the money,’’ said assistant district co-ordinator Ramachandran.

      As this Below Poverty Line family is moving from crisis to crisis, if there is anyone who can help them out, contact Somasundaram at

      9349874555 or at akshayakovalam@...>

      But don’t be surprised by the ring tone that goes ‘jeevitha thoni thuzhanju thuzhanju....’

      reema_narendran@...

      ----------------------
      S.TIMOTHY LEO RAJ M.sc[Psy], M.S.(Coun & Psy.T.), ELIXIR OF MIND {Adolescent
      Guidance ,Marital and Family counselling centre}, NSP nager,H-44,
      Kesavadasapuram,pattom(P.O.),TRIVANDRUM-695004.Kerala state,
      INDIA.MOB:09495902715
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