It was August 1987 and in response to the invitation of Mr.V.P.Baligar, I went and met him at his office. He received me warmly and we started talking about my future plans. I told him about the Chinnadagudihundi experience and that we were running the Sunday clinic at Thumnerale. After listening to me for some time, he asked me if I was indeed serious about my intentions of wanting to serve in a rural area. On hearing my affirmation, he challenged me and asked me if I would be able to go into an interior area adjoining the forest and be prepared to live and work with the tribals in Heggadadevanakote. I did not have the faintest idea where this place was nor could imagine what life would be in such an area. He told me that I needed to meet a person called Nanjunda Rao who would fill me in with the details of tribals and the kind of life they lived.
He asked me to come and meet him a couple of days later at his office early in the morning at 8 am. He then introduced me to Nanjunda Rao, who was an officer in the Government and had risen from the ranks to retire as a Special Deputy Commissioner. He had just concluded an in depth socio-economic study of the tribals living in H.D.Kote taluk and was known for his integrity and passionate desire to uplift the tribals. I was surprised when Baligar announced that we were all proceeding to H.D.Kote and asked me to join him in his car. All along the way, Nanjunda Rao told me about the different tribal groups that were there, the problems that the National Park brought about, the improper rehabilitation of the tribals when four dams were built in that area, the food habits, customs and the romantic tales linked to their culture and tradition. He seemed to be devoted to the tribal cause and was keen that I start my work with them. He assured me of his wholehearted support and encouragement.
We reached a tribal colony called ‘Brahmagiri’ and I was surprised to see well-built houses, tube wells and a community shed. Nanjunda Rao explained that it was a recently constituted rehabilitation colony, built to resettle the tribals who were displaced due to the construction of the reservoir many decades ago. He mentioned that this was possible due to the efforts of another enterprising Deputy Commissioner called Brahma Dutt, who was instrumental in getting a rehabilitation package for the tribals there. This tribal colony was named as Brahmagiri in acknowledgment of his support to the tribals by some sycophantic junior officer who wanted to possibly please his superior.
Baligar told me that it was these people who needed our health interventions and promised me land and all possible help from the Government if I were to accept his challenge. Well, the whole area was lush green and I was indeed impressed with the commitment and dedication of Baligar and Nanjunda Rao. All I remember saying was that I would be more than happy to work there. Little did I realize what was in store or how difficult things would be in the future!!
Also read: (12) My meeting with Mr.V.P.Baligar