The Chikbuk Salute series cannot be complete without mentioning this person . I had attended  a talk  2 years back and I was inspired beyond words by him . So this is for him and the inspiration he instilled in me . May be many of you know him ,many of you do not . But let me try to introduce you to Murganantham. The first man to wear a sanitary napkin. But why did he wear it and how is that inspirational . Read on .

Humble Beginnings

S. Arunachalam, Muruganantham grew up in poverty after his father who was a hand loom weaver died in a road accident.It was his mother who worked at the farms for paltry wages that supported his family at that time. At school, he took interest in science and won an award at a science exhibition for a chicken incubator design. However, at the age of 14, he dropped out of school to look for work. Initially, he supplied food to factory workers, but then he took up various jobs as machine tool operator, yam selling agent, far labourer, welder, etc

Need Is The Mother Of Invention

Eventually he was married and accidentally he discovered his wife collecting filthy rags to use during her menstrual cycle. When he asked why she was doing it the reply stunned him. She told him that if they start buying sanitary napkins made by MNCs they will have to forego the milk that they drink

Troubled by this, he went on an experiment to create and fashion sanitary pads. The idea gripped him every day after he got back from his grueling work of welding gates and windows, that he would spend hours devising sanitary pads. At the start, he made pads out of cotton but these were rejected by his wife and sisters. Eventually, they stopped co-operating with him and refused to be his test subjects.

He then bought the commercial product and realized that the raw materials at the time probably cost 10 paise (0.002 $), but were selling many times that price. Being from a hand loom background, he thought he could make them cheaper himself.

Then he started looking for female volunteers who could test his inventions, but most were too shy to discuss their menstrual issues with him. He even tested it on himself !!, using a bladder with animal blood, but became the subject of ridicule when the “sanitary pad” was discovered in his village. It is when he described this I understood how involved he was with his vision that he was ready to do anything for it .But that didn’t deter him. Even his mother left him when she came upon used sanitary pads which he had collected from local medical college girls .

Never Let Go Your Passion. Thats Only Thing That Will Drive You

How ever Muruganantham didn’t let go off his fire . He did find out that the material used in the pads were from pine wood pulp . These fibers helped them to retain shape even after absorption. The normal imported machines costs upwards of 3 crores INR (500000 $) and he thought about how to create this . He devised low cost machine that can be operated with minimal training . He sourced pine wood pulps from Mumbai in India and made machines that would ultimately create the pads . The cost of the machines at that time was about 65000 INR (1085 $) . In 2014 it costs about 0.1 million INR (1700 $) . He got recognition from Indian government and he received it from then president of India Prathibha Patil .

But this is not what inspired and influenced me the most . It is what he did the next . Despite several offers from Corporate entities to commercialize his invention, he refused to sell out an continues to provide this machine to self help groups run by women all over India.

After his success reached many years his Wife and his Mother joined him and he stays in Coimbatore with their daughter.

He have been giving talks about his journey in many places around the world and I happened to hear one of his talks in Bangalore. I was so moved with it as I am also from a remote village in India and know what the girls go through . I too did what I can by contacting the self help group in our area and telling them about this. They contacted him and I don’t know what happened after that. Hope they have installed the machinery and is happy about doing it .

I was really touched by his humility and his straight from the heart talk that I thought I should have post about him here.


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