Periyar Maniammai University

A few weeks have gone by since the passing away of the illustrious son of India Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. Not only known he was for his unassuming majesty, outstanding integrity and unparalleled simplicity but also for his versatility in  Aerospace technology. Dr. Kalam can be pointed out to exemplify the deep rooted significance of a statement that the birth of everybody is only an event, but the death of a few is an era.

Dr Kalam”s demise is a era of stupendous achievements in space technology. It was he who successfully launched the first satellite of India. A major role he played in designing Prithvi and Agni Missiles in 1980.  He was instrumental in exploding miniature atom bombs as an experimental measure in the deserts of Rajasthan in 1998.

Born of an ordinary parentage at Rameshwaram, he grew steadily by a sheer dint of exuberant energy, determination and industry. To earn his pocket money, young Kalam was also a paper boy delivering daily newspapers at the  doorstep of local clients.  Known as a missile man, even among the scientists he was highly instrumental in elevating the stature of India to rub shoulders with big powers in the globally known Nuclear Club.  A friend of mine, a technocrat in USA, during his recent visit to India has said that there had been a discreet circular from the U.S. Government directing their scientists in the USA not to have any contact with Kalam. 

Perhaps the US Government found in Kalam a potential threat for their monopoly of nuclear know-how.  I recall the occasion of having sent to Dr. Kalam my review of his Autobiography Wings of  Fire.  He has sent it back with his appreciation but with a small correction in the technical details of missile  which I had made a mention of.

Though holding the enviable role of the First Citizen of the country, he was humble enough to recall  his academic past and endearingly visited his former teachers of school as well as the college. As an alumni of St Joseph’s College Trichy, he visited it and paid a courtesy call to his former teachers. Elevation to the higher altitudes in life never wiped out his simplicity in life and humbleness in behaviour. 

No less was his interest in requesting the younger generation to interact with him. He felt at home in their company.  His attachment with his brother and close relatives was so deep that he  never failed from attending domestic functions at his home town.

Even after demitting office, he was almost the only President to crisscross the country to hobnob with the learned and gentry. Kept himself busy  in attending non- political functions all over India. Outrightly a person of secular outlook with patriotic fervor. Progress of India was his primary concern. He was the most sought after President among the school going children and students. 

In his half-a-dozen visits to Periyar  Maniammai University at Thanjavur, he has made his avuncular attachment explicit to its growth and development.  Evinced a lot of interest in observing how far his ideal PURA Scheme- Providing Urban Amenities  to Rural Areas has been actively implemented in about 67 villages, a few of which he personally visited to see the fruition of the scheme. In enunciating the Scheme of Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas, he found himself identical with similar lofty principles of Thanthai Periyar enunciated by him long back.

Hence Dr. Kalam felt it better to call his scheme Periyar Pura. Not without reason that he has elaborated the details of the scheme and its implementation of  PURA by the University in about 10 pages in his  Penguin edited volume ‘Target 3 Billion’. That rare book envisages a better future for India is to be made available soon in Tamil.

To say that he has risen above the narrow levels of caste, creed and other kinds of  parochialism  is to belittle him.  His role was that of a senior Patriarch in matters that are controversial in the country.  Brilliant enough to highlight the ups and downs in society and to blaze a new trial for the progress of a nation.

Bold enough he was to assert that nothing wrong in Koodankulam Project and advised the agitators to get cooled down. Evinced a lot of interest in eco-friendly carbon neutral atmosphere for making the planet congenial and habitable. To say in brief, he was alike a singular think-tank always concerned about anything that is problematic for the country and offered  solutions in an objective and non partisan manner. 

It is understood that he was toying with the idea of  breaking  the impasse and lull that was prevailing in Parliament on the recent issue of Lalit Modi Affair and Vyapam Crisis.  Not an exaggeration to say that he was found to be more active and even workaholic in his retired life than when he was in service.

Honesty and integrity were the supreme virtues in him.  On the day of assuming his office, a large number of his family members, kith and kin visited Delhi.  For their train journey, accommodation and boarding he personally paid from his pocket, even though there is provision for the Presidential palace to bear the expenses.  Led his life as bachelor and the only entertainment, he relished was in tuning his favourite Veena, a musical instrument.  Reading and Writing were his favorite pastime.  His éclat was in relishing poetry and listening music.

At length, as an ardent humanist, he was highly critical of the capital punishment and wanted it to be abolished all over the Country.  He dreamt of India becoming an empire in about a decade.  As a person of fore-thinking, he stood always for the uniqueness of India in safety, security and in economic empowerment. As an Atomic scientist and Space Technologist, he can be kept on par with great  technocrats  such as Homi  Bhaba and  Vikram  Sarabhai, his seniors.

His death is mourned all over the country.  On the occasion of interring the mortal remains of Dr. Kalam at Rameswaram, apart from thousands of mourners , The Prime Minister and quite a number of Chief Ministers  from various States of India personally attended the funeral and paid  their homage. Thousands of flex boards  in various cities and towns of Tamil Nadu speak silently how the great scientist was the object of adoration. 

Let me add furthermore, a herbarium in Periyar Maniammai University campus tacitly weeping for the loss of  that great scientist who laid its foundation.  Death has taken away his mortal remains.  But his doctrines such as simplicity, economy and intelligence still remain and alive in our hearts and minds.  Let me despondingly add furthermore that when Dr.Kalam has gone away, when shall we have such another Kalam for the sake of not only Indians but also for the entire humanity at large.



The Periyar PURA, initiated by the Periyar Maniammai University (PMU), Vallam, in south India, has a unique and multi – pronged focus on generating entrepreneurs in various disciplines and social groups. the Periyar PURA covers sixty – five villages and benefits a population of about 1,00, 000 people.
The Periyar PURA has followed the one – village one – product model, which means that each village (or a small group of villages) within its purview focuses on achieving excellence of quality and maximization of returns for a particular product or service.

This was implemented in 2007 through a strategic partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). The people of the Periyar PURA villages, technologically supported by PMU, worked with experts from JETRO on various product for which core competency and raw material were available in Thanjavur district. The PMU students and experts were instrumental in identifying the core competency and facilitating the training. they developed prototypes for 123 products such as bed sheets, table runners, cushion covers, brass drums, curtains and bread baskets.

Interaction with the JETRO specialists included comparison with Japanese products, discussion on selection of raw material, technical advice on product development and final quality inspection. Based on this intensive interaction, the people of Vallam produced 123 products from which JETRO selected forty for the international market. These finalized products were displayed in exhibitions in New Delhi and Tokyo.

The feedback from each exhibition was used for improving the product so as to enhance customer acceptability of the product. The local technical consultancy support for improving the product was provided by PMU. This co-operative venture has booster the innovative ability of the village people and transformed it into developing and producing internationally acceptable products.

Besides the partnership with JETRO, the Periyar PURA is organized into different blocks of villages, each charged with developing a specific core competency based on the local agro – climate and availability of native skills. Some of these are coconut – based activity, bamboo – related enterprises, herb cultivation, dairy integration and biofuel and alternative energy sources.

The Periyar PURA has initiated or promoted a number of enterprise activities through many of its specialized centres or social organizations. It has the following organizations and initiatives for carrying out its work in the villages:

•    Periyar Organization for Women’s Emancipation and Renaissance (POWER)

•    Periyar Business Processing Outsourcing (PBPO)

•    Periyar Technology Business Incubator (TBI)

•    Centre for Rural Development (CRD)

•    Peiryar Research Organization for Biotechnology and Ecosystem (PROBE)

•    Periyar Centre for Environment and Energy Management (PCEM)

•    Periyar Renewable Energy Training Institute (PRETI)

•    KVIC Regional Extension Centre (biomanure programme)

All these centres work in close synergy and share knowledge to attain the common goal of transforming the villages.

Pages 218-220 of ‘Target 3 Billion’



The former President of  India   Honourable Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (84)  a towering personality of human service and who made a powerful impact on the student population of the country died while addressing a students’ meeting in Shillong of a sudden heart attack on 27th July. This news took  the entire nation by surprise  and shock.   

What  a great man  he was! He not only strived for the self sufficiency of the scientific technology of the nation, this genius   also worked hard for the villages to get all the progress of the cities  by initiating an organisation called  PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas) He learnt that  Periyar had  initiated such a move even 60 years back which is being meritoriously implemented by the Periyar Maniammai University, Vallam, Thanjavur  by adopting 69 villages, he was pleased to name this scheme as PERIYAR  PURA

Even  after retirement from the greatest office of the country, he continued to show unceasing interest in the multi- dimensional progress of the student community  and worked for it till his last moment. He stands out as a beacon of leadership spending his entire life to the welfare of the youth by spending his life as a bachelor.

Dr. Abdul Kalam’s  death is an   irreparable loss for the country. He will surely continue to shed light on all the activities of the youth and their education. The whole nation is saddened in the expectation when we shall get another leader like this. We pay our most sincere homage to this great son of the nation.

Camp : Thiruchy


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