Eleven people from various fields in Tamil Nadu have been conferred the Padma awards. Among them and possibly the oldest living recipients from the list is 105-year-old Papammal from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu who has been awarded the prestigious Padma Shri.
Papammal runs her organic farm spread across 2.5 acres of land where she has been cultivating a variety of millets, pulses, vegetables and corn for over nine decades. “I’m very happy,” Papammal said over the phone as she was commuting to the Coimbatore airport to meet DMK leader MK Stalin. She joined the party several years ago.
From an early age, Papammal alias Rangammal was interested in agricultural practices. She was born in 1914, lost her parents at an early age and was brought up by her paternal grandmother in Thekkampatti where she continues to live. She would not have studied beyond class 2, say her family members. Papammal lost her husband a decade ago and has three daughters, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and lives with five members of her family.
Papaammal saved money by selling snacks and beverages from a provisional shop she inherited from her grandmother. With the money, she bought 10 acres of land to cultivate pulses and corn. “There has never been a day when she hasn’t worked,” says her second niece R Kamalam who was accompanying her to the airport. From 1983, Pappammal’s public life took another major dimensional change that led her to become a lead farmer and an icon of, ‘“women in farming’ after she joined the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in Coimbatore district-run under the aegis of Avinashilingam Institute of Home Science for Women. She took basic training and became an instant leader in the local management committee (LMC) of KVK. With her inherent organising skills, she started to mobilize other women in the farm extension activities,” said Kumaravadivel, senior scientist and the district in charge of KVK.
According to her family, Papaammal’s active lifestyle and food habits keep her healthy. “Her favourite is mutton biryani and she takes her food with lots of greens and vegetables. She eats all her meals hot on a leaf and doesn’t use plates,” says Balasubramanian. “She sticks to hot water and avoids tea and coffee.” That’s why she is living healthy at this age of 105.
This grandmother is indeed a role model for the youngsters especially girls who think agriculture is a joke. Hereafter, youngsters should step into agriculture and make it proud of our nation.
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