Dr. Rajamma of Kethorai

Image result for rajamma badaga

It has been some time earlier that I had written about Rajamma, a Badaga from Kethorai Village. Though, she has been highly recognised, on a personal level, she has not been treated fairly by Badagas, specially from her own village. Some over indulgent and misinformed gentlemen. She has been excommunicated and not allowed to enter her village.

Her ‘crime‘, marrying a non Badaga some 30 years ago, with whom she hardly lived for a year and got legal separation. Instead of feeling proud about a daughter who has been presented with so many awards as a teacher and social activist, her village people have not been kind to her. They may not be aware that what they have done, preventing her from coming to the village, has caused so much pain to this lady who brought up a son as a single mom.

She is a source of inspiration to women folk.

For her efforts and in recognition an USA university has conferred a doctorate to her. Read her inspiring story below. – Wg.Cdr.JP

 We are happy to learn that she was conferred with Honorary Doctorate by International  Tamil University, USA  on 24th Aug. 2019, for her exemplary service in the field of education and social work.

Dr.Rajamma ( Dean & Educational Consultant. SSAV, CBSE School, Thirumudivakkam ) writes to say :

It is a reward for my 40 years journey. I owe this to my Parents who had given me education, Kendriya Vidyalaya, the great organization where I served for 28 years, the NGOs which gave me a platform to do my social work  and the thousands of my students whom  had traveled with me  in my journey of 40 years.

Tribute to Rajamma from her son Prithvi

There was a dreamy eyed girl who ran to school every morning with tattered clothes, but with big ambitions. When the world around her refused to see how bright she was, she shone even brighter, engulfing all the darkness around her. She climbed mountains nobody ever dreamt of and fought battles she never imagined. In the end, she had the last laugh. This is the story of my Amma who was denied the right to education, but now has an honorary doctorate for her excellence in the field of education and social service.

Your journey, fight for dignity in a society where women were undervalued, and still are, just for being women, has inspired generations of both women and men. Your humility and thirst for knowledge has earned you so many awards that there is no space to keep mine anymore.

You lived your dreams of earning your PhD vicariously through me at first, but look at you now, shining like a pole star.

Thank you for being a purple hibiscus in a world of ordinary red hibiscus. Thank you for being the feminist icon we all need.


Santhosh Kumar JB has sent the info and the link in ‘The Hindu’ and we have great pleasure in sharing the same with all Badagas.

It was not before the age of 15 that she was first taught the English alphabet. Now, 35 years later, she is a successful teacher in the same subject and is getting ready to leave for New Delhi to receive the Dr.Radhakrishnan Best Teacher Award from President Pratibha Devisingh Patil.
The fact that R.Rajammal is the first generation learner from her family may not be uncommon. But that she belongs to the Badagar community from remote Kethorai Village of Kethi Village Panchayat in Nilgiris District and has come thus far is an inspiring story. People travelling on the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway might have noticed the Kethi railway station, Coonoor and Udhagamandalam. Her native village Kethorai is a good five-kilometre trek from there.
Ms. Rajammal teaches English and Science to primary students at Kendriya Vidyalaya (II) at Madambakkam near Tambaram. Recognising her rise from modest backgrounds, her contribution to teaching and the Guides movement, the Ministry of Human Resource Development selected her for the prestigious award.
“I am the eldest among five children. I still remember the hardwork of my parents who toiled through the day in tea plantations and small farms raising vegetables,” Ms. Rajammal recalled her childhood days at Kethorai. Five decades back, education in remote hilly areas was scarce but Rajammal made the best of it, excelling in academics till high school.
Being a first generation learner did come in the way but having imbibed the quality of sheer hard work from her parents M.Ramachandran and R.Saraswathi, she never gave up. “We used to walk eight kilometers to high school and back home. It was not before class nine that we were first taught the English alphabet,” Ms. Rajammal said.
As those were the days of college education immediately after S.S.L.C., they had very little time to master English and when she joined Providence College, Coonoor, she found it even more difficult in the initial days. However, with the help of her teachers and classmates, she finished her B.Sc in Botany in high grades and came to Chennai, where she managed to get the job as a teacher at St. Michael’s Academy in Adyar.

Deputation to Moscow
Seven years later, she joined the Kendriya Vidyalaya. After a nation-wide test, she was selected to go on a three-year deputation to Moscow where she served the KV school there. A compere for programmes at INS Rajali in Arakkonam and also during passing out parades of Central Industrial Security Force establishments, Ms. Rajammal has earned popularity for her motivational speeches and also for her work among the underprivileged sections involving school students.
Her association with welfare homes for the senior citizens, destitute women and children had its origins in her childhood. “I visit my native village at least six times a year and spend a long time during the summer vacation. I insist on the importance of education and encourage young girls never to give up till they succeed in life,” Ms. Rajammal said.
Actively involved in the Girl Guides movement, Ms. Rajammal has received the NCERT Award in 2003 for Innovative Teaching Practices in Environmental Studies and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghatan Incentive Award in 2008.
She wants to be a role model for rural women, especially among her Badagar community. Ever indebted to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghatan for the exposure that she has received, she said that she would be only too glad to serve KVS even after her retirement.

K. Manikandan


2 responses to “Dr. Rajamma of Kethorai

  1. Sumathi Devarajan

    Your inspiring message lives on in many women’s hearts! Congratulations! and Thank you!!


  2. kethorai. Dr. Rajammal@ Rajma

    Dear JP, My humble greetings. I am indebted to you for the recognition you had given me through your classic web site “Badagas of Blue Mountain”. Your words of appreciation are travelling with me for the past one decade. Thank you for understanding the pain of a single parent. It is a pity that when the whole world(my students are spread globally) is feeling proud of my achievements, the small village where I belong to is so indifferent. Empathy is what they lack. Rightly stated by you I want to be a source of inspiration for the women folk in general irrespective of caste, creed or religion. At anyday I am a proud Badaga, Indian. Girls are pearls of the Nation.Women power is super power at anyday. Your mother Idiyammal is an eternally living example though she is not alive now. The world should respect women. The society should be a safer place for the girl children. Jai Ho…! Thanks and regards. Dr. Rajammal from Kethorai ( None can snatch this title of place where I belong)


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