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Blog Entry# 2051160  
Posted: Nov 07 2016 (07:12)

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Last Response: Nov 07 2016 (07:12)
Rail News
Commentary/Human InterestSR/Southern  -  
Nov 07 2016 (07:00)   When women SHG members join hands to serve the public

rdb*^   130973 news posts
Entry# 2051160   News Entry# 285015         Tags   Past Edits
Madurai district administration, Meenakshi temple, and now Southern Railway, have engaged them for jobs done only by men
Madurai Division of Southern Railway employing self-help group women to man its two-wheeler parking lot marks a big leap in providing job opportunities to the SHGs by government sector, especially the Union Government.
Very recently, the management of Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple allowed SHG members to man all the five chappal stands along with cloakrooms on Chithirai Streets.
the last four months ever since the women were engaged, there is a qualitative change in the service,” says a temple official.
“We have ensured that our members do not collect any money from the devotees (It is a free service provided by the temple),” says R. Rajarajeswari, an SHG member.
Earlier, the workers employed by the contractor were demanding money from the devotees. “But, now we hear that they do not accept even the money offered by the devotees,” says the temple official.
Ms. Rajarajeswari and K. Nagalakshmi, who were involved in tailoring, grabbed the present work when it was offered. “It is because we get better remuneration of Rs. 249 a day here. Besides, its gives us the satisfaction of serving the famous temple,” says Ms. Nagalakshmi.
Twenty four women, sporting uniform and gloves, work in two shifts in the morning and afternoon. Male members of the families of the SHGs members take up the work during night hours.
The genesis
However, the genesis of SHG members getting a recognition from the government was in 2003, when the then Collector B. Chandramohan invited Bharati Magalir Sangam, an SHG, to set up a canteen on the Collectorate campus.
The SHG was just two years old then. It was involved only in collecting monthly subscription of Rs. 100 and lending it at a nominal interest to its members.
“Some of our members discouraged us from taking up the new venture. They warned that it was not easy to run the canteen where a lot of men come,” says T. Saroja (51), who heads the canteen. However, nine of them mustered courage and came forward to set up the Aavin milk booth.
The group was initially allowed to sell milk, coffee and tea. Subsequently, they were permitted to sell vada and rice varieties. Since then, the women never looked back.
The administration wanted them to give home-made food without any artificial colours or any adulteration.
“Till now, we maintain the quality and hygiene in the food items were serve,” she says.
Different women don different roles. Some make tea and coffee, and others take care of cooking.
Some of them deliver beverages, vada and meals in every office at the Collectorate, Old Ramanathapuram Collectorate building and post-office. The women also supply food items for all official meetings at the Collectorate.
Most of the women, who were housewives, have learnt the tricks of the trade in the last 14 years. They work for at least 12 hours a day for around 20 days a month.
They get a minimum monthly salary. The profit is shared thrice a year – in January, during Deepavali and when schools reopen.
Contribute to family income
All these women have contributed to their family income and given good education to their children. Many children have completed college studies. “Almost all of us have married off our girl children with our income,” said Ms. Saroja.
B. Kamalam (70), the senior most among the members of the group, had been the only earning member of her family when her husband fell sick some five years back.
Even after his death, the woman helps her married daughter and three sons, who she says, have a hand-to-mouth existence. “I take pleasure in spending for my grandchildren now and then,” the elderly woman says.
The women have learnt to iron out their differences and run the canteen smoothly. “We all benefit out of our unity and hard work,” Ms. Kamalam says.
Though they serve food to a large number of customers, the women bring their lunch from home.
For they have brought in a discipline that they should pay for everything they take at the canteen except for a cup of tea each in the morning and evening.
“Only the leftover items are shared by us at the end of the day. This is because we know that many ventures started by other SHGs after us could not function due to lack of discipline,” Ms. Saroja says.
The canteen has taught them about the world outside the four walls at home, and the women personify confidence.
Many people who made fun of them when they started the canteen are now awe-struck at their success.
“Now they know that we have our job in the seat of power. We have successfully run the show without any complaints so far,” Ms. Saroja says with pride.
The three-fold increase in the monthly subscription in the group activity to Rs. 300 now only speaks of their economic development.
We have learnt to iron out our differences and run the canteen smoothly. We all benefit out of our unity and hard work
B. Kamalam
Senior most member of the group

Nov 07 2016 (07:12)
rdb*^   31594 blog posts   381730 correct pred (81% accurate)
Re# 2051160-1            Tags   Past Edits

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