Nagabhushan is helping the villagers of Noorundumalai in the Krishnagiri district, Tamilnadu, to help them give up liquor and tobacco addiction. A step towards realising the Gandhian swaraj
Mahatma Gandhi was a staunch advocate of prohibition of alcohol. He opined that liquor was an invention of the devil which not only robbed men of their money but of their reason, and failed to distinguish between lawful and unlawful. Nagabhushana who understood the ill-effects of alcoholism among the villagers of Noorundumalai, made the villagers understand the need to shed alcohol and opt for a good lifestyle.
Nagabhushan was only 23 when he came back to his ancestral village after completing his masters in social work. He understood that poverty in his village was related to alcoholism and smoking as most village folks used to spend their money on alcohol and smoking leaving very less to tend to the family. This in-turn left their families impoverished and children with malnutrition.
Asking the villagers to simply quit would have never worked. So Nagabhushan started addressing the problem with subtlety. He first started to teach children for free in a local school and involved in various social and development issues of the village. His contribution brought him admiration and acceptance. He expanded his activities and during these activities held informal talks with the villagers where he brought up the topics of ill-effects of alcohol and the benefits of quitting the same.
Namanam is also involved in providing better schooling facilitates for the children of the villages nearby. Dilapidated school buildings have been repaired by the centre
The youth of the village who had suffered due to alcoholism of their parents, supported Nagabhushan in this endeavour. They together started an association of Tobacco and Alcohol Free Rural Youth. The group took teetotalers along and encouraged others to quit alcohol and tobacco. Despite receiving threats from the alcohol lobby which was getting affected due to people quitting alcohol, a determined Nagabhushan stood strong and gathered support from the villagers themselves. Due to his unbridled efforts, Noorundumalai was declared alcohol and tobacco free in 2002.
‘Namanam’ for rehabilitation and sustenance
Making people quit alcohol was only one part of the challenge. To desist people from getting back to old ways was a larger problem. To mitigate this, Nagabhushan started a de-addiction and rehabilitation center named ‘Namanam’ at Urigam, 6 kms away from Noorundumalai. Namanam became the center of transformation for villages in and around Noorundamalai.
To sustain itself, Namanam made a foray into business and produced commercial products using locally available resources like tamarind, aloe-vera and many other herbal products. The individuals who required rehabilitation were given jobs at the factory. This sustainable model made it easier for people to find alternate and respectable jobs. In the last 10 years, over 1,000 youngsters have found a new direction for their lives through Namanam.
Namanam is also involved in providing better schooling facilitates for the children of the villages nearby. Dilapidated school buildings have been repaired by the centre.
Nagabhushan has been able to achieve all this during the last 2 decades despite having a day job in Bangalore in a prestigious IT firm. Most of his activities in the village and Namanam happens during weekends when he travels to Noorundamalai to resume his social service.