Janakiamma (as she is popularly known) is a Kurumba woman elder in her fifties who has been a leading light in her community for many years. She has been active in both Baviyur and Vellaricombai. She has been involved since the past decade building young leadership amongst her people. She has worked hard to promote traditional systems of governance and revive important events in the community to keep their pride and identity alive. Protection of Sacred Groves and their importance has been one of the main elements of this work.
Janakiamma has been involved closely with the Culture and People programme of Keystone Foundation and documented folklore, like songs, stories, riddles, proverbs and other important information to keep oral traditions alive. She is involved in collecting news from indigenous communities and distributing the news to the same. She also collects news and photos about government related works and appeals to respective department to improve their implementation. She has been specially supporting women in her community, during time of emotional need and giving them the strength to stand on their own.
She was selected to be a Director in the Board of the Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited, wholly owned by indigenous people in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. In 2016, in recognition of her significant contribution to the community, she was awarded the Paul K. Feyerabend Award – “A World of Solidarity is Possible.”
Proving to be a bridge between the traditional and the modern, Janakiamma supports the philosophy that, “change is inevitable, but it is how we transition that matters”