By M S Sriram
Shashi Rekha Rajagopalan, member of the Central Board of Reserve Bank of India, and NABARD and also a member of the Malegam Committee on MFIs, passed away on the 5th of August 2011. She had just crossed 60. I got to know Shashi as a young student from IRMA who had gone to do a summer project in Samakhya, where she was the Director. For somebody who was encountering an experience within work environment, quite different from the carefree student life, it was indeed a welcome way of transitioning. Me and my batchmate Shankar Raman had a briefing in the head office of Samakhya and then we travelled by train to Kazipet from where we would go to a village called Mulukanoor. Shashi accompanied us on that trip.
This was not my first outing in the village. I had already spent near to about 10 weeks in a village near Mysore, doing fieldwork. Compared to that village Kalale, Mulukanoor was much better. We were given two individual rooms on either sides of a godown. The room was decently furnished – a table, chair a bed and a functioning fan and geyser. The food was from a nearby hotel, which opened in the morning and would continue to function till about sun-down – or till milk lasted whichever was earlier. In the evening the co-op campus would close the large gates and it was indeed an eerie experience to be in such a large space alone.
However, as Shashi had briefed us, we had come there with a purpose. There was this efficient co-operative in Mulukanoor that took care of all the needs of its members and we were expected to do a costing system to understand the profitability of each of the lines of business. I was quite excited being in such a place and experiencing all the newness of being in a serene environment, with the added bonus of basic necessities taken care of. There were two theatres – one somewhat Kaccha with a single projector and another a fancy one by Mulukanoor’s standards – where the typist of the co-op was a ticket dispenser. In both the places seeing the movie was an experience in itself.
Shashi in her briefing had told us some basic non-negotiables. That we have to respect the views of the local co-operative employees and not talk down to them, keep to our appointments and generally be seen as responsible people. She also introduced us to Mr.A K Vishwanatha Reddy the President of the co-operative and almost a patriarch of the village [it did not matter that he never won an election beyond the Zilla Panchayat, but he had also never lost an election of the co-operative]. While one found Shashi to be overbearing, she also had an innate sense of humor, which diffused any misgivings one might have had. We knew that we could take some liberties with her we also knew where she drew the line. There was never any confusion on her expectation from us.
Read the rest on M.S Sriram’s Blog