Poverty forced Muthuraj to drop out of school and work for a living. At 24, he is a young entrepreneur, running a tractor service business in Dharmapuri district.
Muthuraj belongs to Neruppur, in the Pennagaram zone of Dharmapuri district. His father Chinnamuthu and mother Valarmathi worked in the fields.
Muthuraj studied up to 6th standard in the government high school, but as his family had to shift to Karur and Kangeyam due to poverty, he had to discontinue his education without completing the 7th std. After dropping out of school, he was rearing goats.
Muthuraj’s family returned to Neruppur, when he joined in 7th std. in a school meant for children rescued from child labour and studied there for two years.
Later, he joined the government high school there and completed his 9th and 10th classes. He passed the 10th examination in the second attempt, joined the ITI and studied A/C mechanic course. Meanwhile he also learnt tractor driving. As he lived in a village, he developed an interest in farm-based industries. Muthuraj participated in the camp for entrepreneurs held in Madurai and got trained in that field.
Later, he got a loan of Rs 25 lakh from Indian Bank, thanks to the help of the Dharmapuri District National Child Labour Project Director and the recommendation of the district collector. Out of this, the government subsidy was Rs 10 lakh. However, people who seek loans have to remit an advance of Rs 5 lakh, which Muthuraj borrowed with the help of his family members and paid as required. He bought two tractors and other agricultural equipment with this amount, and started his tractor rental business in the Pennagaram area.
“I am running this centre for the past one and half years. I have no specific work timings. I drive the tractors to the fields whenever I get a call, whether in the day or in the night. I sometimes hire hands for work when there is a need. We undertake all types of services like tilling, harvesting etc. and hence, people used to call us for any sort of agricultural activity. Ours is basically a dry belt and so, we have busy and lean periods in our work life. Yet, we somehow manage to earn about Rs 50,000 a month, after allowing for all expenses. Of this, I remit Rs 19,000 towards my bank loan. I am particular that I should not falter in the timely repayment of loan installments for any reason and always pay an additional EMI,” says Muthuraj.
“The bank has given loans to six people in our area including me. The others are relatively better off than me, but still they could not run this business properly and have since dropped out. However I am able to continue this successfully. My telephone number has been also added to the TN Agricultural App and hence, those in need of my service can call me through that also,” says Muthuraj with a justifiable pride.
His family is now engaged in rearing silk worms in the piece of land they have bought. Muthuraj has uploaded videos about the services he is providing with the help of agricultural instruments.
Muthuraj is a shining example of how a young man from a remote village, having only a school education against his name, can make progress in life by sheer dint of hard work.