|EMPOWERED WOMEN: Thanks to the self help group movement, many women of the Irula community in Perungalathur have taken to ornamental fish farming.|
Over 100 families of this community are on the path towards self-reliance, putting behind them, decades of catching rats, snakes, wild cats and mongoose for a living. “We have been living here for five generations,” recalled M. Lakshmi, who, however, is unable to tell her age.
In the past, they were engaged in “smoking out” rats from paddy fields and catching poisonous snakes to extract venom, but decline in agriculture coupled with government restrictions deprived them of this livelihood.
They were left with the job of cleaning houses and other odd jobs. “But that too was restricted after the arrival of gadgets like vacuum cleaners and washing machines,” said M. Boopathy. Just when life seemed to be heading to a dead-end for this small segment of a very docile community, they were led into the self help group movement.