The most spoken about movie this year was Akshay Kumar starrer- “PAD MAN”. We all have been immensely appreciating and talking about the most amazing story and the thought that has been promoted through the movie. Today let me introduce you the actual PAD MAN to whom this story belongs to.
Arunachalam Muruganantham- the innovator/social entrepreneur is the man on whom the film is based. Muruganantham is hailed for pioneering the manufacturing of low-cost sanitary napkins in India and also kick-starting a menstrual hygiene movement in the rural areas where it was the need of the hour.
Born in 1962 to the couple S. Arunachalam and A. Vanita, who were hand-loom weavers in Coimbatore, India. Muruganantham grew up in poverty after his father died in a road accident. His mother worked as a farm laborer to help in his studies. However, at the age of 14, he dropped out of school. He supplied food to factory workers and took up various jobs as machine tool operator, yam-selling agent, farm laborer, welder, etc. to support his family. He was married to his wife Shanti in the year 1998.
With no degree from any of the prestigious institutions of the country Arunachalam Muruganantham, a school dropout, is a name that stands high as a social entrepreneur in India today. It was when, menstruation as a biological phenomenon was hardly spoken about surrounding blind superstitious beliefs, this man went ahead and made it his subject of experiment, a concern to please his newly wedded wife.
Reaching success and being a household name in the country was not an easy journey for India’s Pad man. Though fame had reached him earlier, Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Padman’ has given him the right recognition for what he has done to overcome one of the biggest social flaws.
When asked how did he get the idea of inventing a low-cost machine to manufacture sanitary pads? He says this…
The idea came from my wife since in our village women cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. When I asked my wife she told me we would have to cut down half of our milk budget to buy sanitary pads. Moreover, while raw materials for sanitary pads cost 10 paise, the end product was sold for 40 times that price. So, I decided to create it on my own. Initially, I asked my wife and sisters to volunteer for me but they refused as menstruation is still considered a taboo in our culture.
Women in our country’s rural areas use filthy rags and newspapers during their periods. Therefore, I decided to wear a sanitary pad myself for a week. I experienced the period menstruation as I attached the pad to a bladder with animal blood. I did it for my wife and the women in our community who have to suffer the unhygienic stage due to social taboos and non-affordability.
Later, I also distributed my products free of cost to women students at a medical college. This creation is a part of my own personal journey for the females in my family and community in order to provide them with a hygienic and healthy life during periods.
He researched for about 2 whole years!!
It took him two years to find the right material and another four years to come up with a way to process it. The result was an easy-to-use machine for producing low-cost sanitary pads. With the imported machines costing more than $5, 00,000, Muruganantham’s prototype came at just $950.
As a result, women groups or schools can buy his machine, produce their own sanitary pads, and sell the surplus. In this way, Muruganantham’s machine has created jobs for women in rural India. He has started a revolution in his own country, selling 1,300 machines to 27 states, and has recently begun exporting them to developing countries all over the world.
His immense hard work and unique thinking has got him this fame not just in India but in the whole world. He had no fewer obstacles in his way but his dedication towards the well-being of the society and to solve problems suffered by the women gave him the motivational spirit to go ahead. He has finally done it.
Today more than 23 states in India are using this machine invented by him. It is benefitting women in the rural areas providing them with low-cost sanitary napkins. “He believes that our country cannot be called ‘developed’ if we cannot make mothers of this nation healthy”.
In 2014 he was named in 100 most influential people in the world and in 2016 he was awarded Padma Shri by GOI. Before Pad Man, an award-winning documentary was made on his life by Amit Virmani called “Menstrual Man”.
Directed by R Balki, “Pad Man” is slated for a January 26, 2017, release and also stars Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte in the lead role.