When Dr Abdul Kalam gave the concept of India 2020 a decade back, Mr M A Balasubramanian (now 59) started thinking of 'Why not Kodambakkam 2020?'. He has been running a small tea stall with the name 'Bharathi snacks'. Bharathi was a great National poet, who inspired many people for freedom struggle. Bharathi's poems were banned by the then British rule and he had to live in Pondicherry, which was then under French rule. Right from childhoold, Balasubramanian used to take part actively in social service and also promote the awareness about National leaders.
When I heard about 'Kodambakkam 2020', i could not resist the temptation of meeting him at his tiny tea stall on last Sunday. When you enter the small 10feet by 10 feet shop, you will find the pictures of National leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Abdul Kalam and great poets like Thiruvalluvar, Bharathiyar and spirtual leaders like Vallalar on the walls.
Probably, many of the readers may know Kodambakkam as the Hollywood of Chennai, where many of the Indian movies are made. On the other side, this area is the locality of poor and lower middle class people. This tea stall is situation in this locality, catering to the lower middle class and poor people.
"Many young people visiting my tea stall, used to ask me about the National leaders. Some of them got inspired. In the year 2000, around 10 of us decided to start a movement to make Kodambakkam as the ideal place for living by 2020 and we named this initiative as 'Kodambakkam 2020' in line with India 2020. To achieve this vision, we formed an informal group called 'Nallore Vattam' (meaning forum for good people)" says Mr Balasubramanian.
Over the period of nine years, this initiative has grown effectively, with more than 1000 members (most of them youngsters). They have divided their activities into 26 categories like blood donation, environment, poor feeding, education, awareness for eye donation, yoga classes, etc. This organisation Nallore Vattam does not have any President, Treasurer, Secretary, etc, It is a flat organistion with Mr Balasubramanian and another young professional Venkatesh as convenors. They have one in-charge person for all the 26 activities. They have not been collecting any money from anybody for the past 9 years. All the activities are supported with the help of sponsors, who take care of the expenses directly.
The in-charge persons of the activities meet on every Sunday evening at 4 PM sharp for the past 9 years regularly, and discuss their activities. Some of the interesting initiatives done by this team:
1. Rapid Action Service : On the birthdays of Mahakavi Bharathiyar and Dr Abdul Kalam, 150 members assemble in one particular colony or area ay 7 AM and start their service like clearning the street, creating awareness on various issues like health care, envronment, etc. to the people, planting of trees, etc. They do this service till the evening. "Of course, we also inform the residents in advance about this Rapid Action Service and 50 percent of the residents join us in the activities. Our Rapid Action creates awareness amongst the residents to keep their area as a model area. So far, in the past three years, we have done in 9 places", says proudly Mr K Venkadesan, Convenor for Kodambakkam 2020 initiative. Mr Venkadesan is an MBA graduate working in a software company.
2. On 5th of every month, the volunteers collect 'one rupee' donation from various people, including schools and other organistions. The entire amount is donated to one of the orphanages or old age homes in their list. They get the receipt from these orphanages in the name of donor institutions. "Every month we collect around Rs.3000 to 4000/- like this from various schools and instittuions and help the orphanages. Through this service, the donors also get to know of thse orphanages and establish contacts directly with them for helping such activities", says Mr Vivekanandan, 12th standard student in the nearby Corporation School and who is also incharge of poor feeding.
3. Nallore Vattam has another initiative to bring together like minded organisations for working together. This initiative is known as "Third Sakthi" (first two being Government and politics and third one being the people sakthi). On the last Saturday of every month, representatives of various NGOs meet together regularly (for the past three years) and work out strategies for coordination. Nearly 100 such NGOs are in their network.
4. Besides, they also conduct regular free yoga classes, personality development classes for poor students. Mr Murugan, another young person is in charge of Yoga Centre.
If I start describing these 26 activities, it may take few more pages. I was highly impressed with the pictures taken by them during the various activities.
"I am running the tea stall here. Many of my own customers are part of this noble initiative. They are all residents of this area. Defintiely, we will achieve Kodambakkam 2020, well ahead of our vision. This is our humble contribution to our Nation" says Mr Balasubramanian with a sense of satisfaction.
India Vision Group salutes Mr Balasubramanian and his team for the great initiative. Like Kodambakkam 2020, every ward, village, town, district, state should have a vision and work towards this.
Mr Balasubramanian may be reached over mobile 91 97910 05771 or through email at