Namanam Trust wiped out alcoholism and smoking from Nooronduswami Malai, a hamlet on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border by introducing the villagers to meditation and provided them vocational training such as tailoring and carpentry.
Ten slow years, a few death threats and free-flowing advice from government officials to remain a silent spectator did not deter Nagabhushana K from his singular goal of ridding his village of the malaise of alcoholism and tobacco. His journey that began in 1996 bore fruit in 2006 when the Noorundumalai village (in Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu) was declared alcohol-and-tobacco free. Since then, Nagabhushana, 45, has led a more ambitious and organised war against alcohol and tobacco consumption. He now runs, Namanam, a “social enterprise” that helps rural and urban youth give up alcoholism and lead reformed lives.
“My mother, Mahalingamma, treats villagers of Noorundumalai with ayurvedic medicines and I just escalated her efforts,” says Nagabhushana who is in Noorundumalai every weekend. “These villagers had no idea that alcohol and tobacco addiction was the reason behind their health problems. I conducted medical camps bringing in doctors from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to spread health awareness in the village,” he shares.
Noorundumalai, which is on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border, had no access to roads, public transport, water or electricity before 2006. It was with the efforts of Nagabhushana and the then district collector Santosh Babu that the village got these basic amenities and a school as well.
“In the beginning, the villagers, who mostly belong to the Irula tribe, did not want to give up alcohol,” he says. “Girls would be married off by 9 and they would have kids by 12. But now, girls have access to education” he says.
Nagabhushana’s seven-year-old social enterprise is set up on an area of 10 acres, in Urigam, 6 km from Noorundumalai. The trust conducts de-addiction camps, manufactures multiple products and also runs a learning programme ‘Enterprise First and Ethical Behaviour’. At the manufacturing unit, food grains, cheap herbal floor cleaners, soaps, etc., are made and packaged to be sold directly to customers. “The unit offers a source of livelihood for reformed youth,” says Nagabhushana. Namanam sells its products to a loyal customer base of 500 in Krishnagiri.