April 18, 2010

INDIA: This 101 yr-old woman is a national rural employment scheme worker

. MADURAI, Tamil Nadu / The Times of India April 18, 2010 By Padmini Sivarajah, Times News Network Karupayee is one of the first at the panchayat union office, hoping there's work for her under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (MNREGS). Her story is similar to millions of other Indians who have benefited from the government programme providing for 100 days of guaranteed employment. But Karupayee is 101 years old. Karupayee of Thanakankulam village in Thiruparankundram panchayat union in Madurai district is probably the oldest NREGS employee. She doesn't have records to prove her age, but when she enrolled herself in the scheme last year, she told the officers that she was 110 years old. They re-calculated it based on the age of her eldest son Sandhanam, who is 82, and put her age down as 100 on her NREGS card. Villagers call her 'suru surupu paati' (brisk granny) as even at a ripe old age she hasn't stopped working. Karupayee has worked for 60 days so far, between April 2009 and March 2010, and says it has helped her live with dignity. "My husband always said we should be independent, and that is what I am doing by earning and cooking my own food," she says. She married Chockanvirumandi, a mill worker, over 80 years ago. He died 50 years ago, after contracting rabies when a street dog bit him. She kept her family afloat by taking up various jobs. Only three of her seven children are alive today, but she has 15 grandchildren and a handful of great-grandchildren. She also avails of the monthly widow pension of Rs 400 given by the state government. [rc] Copyright © 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.