This 12-Yr-Old Boy Has Invented A Device Which Can Help Rid Our Water Bodies Of Plastic Pollution…!

Shocked at the news of the death of a pilot whale in Thailand due to consumption of plastic bags, Varun Saikia, a 12-year-old boy from Vadodara, wanted to design a machine which could help in cleaning polluted water bodies. Curious about the causes of plastic pollution prevalent in water bodies, he started researching more about the topic. Soon, he realised that it was a major global environmental problem and many countries have been grappling with the issue.

h “I thought of making a machine that would clean and collect all the floating plastic waste in rivers, ponds and lakes. Plastic floats on water bodies which makes it harder to scoop up and collect”, shares Varun Saikia, an eighth class student from Navrachana School, Vadodara. He came up with this idea in an attempt to combat the increasing pollution problems. His innovative device is named Makara which is designed to sweep the polluted ponds of our cities. What sets this device apart is that it is completely battery-operated which would reduce the manual work involved in cleaning.

Concerned about the increasing environmental pollution, he kept reading about adverse changes that have taken place all over the world as a result of pollution. He also came to know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and how it impacted ocean bodies on a major scale. He was distressed to learn about water pollution and he finally decided to come up with a solution which could be implemented in nearby localities and polluted water bodies.

What is Makara?

Makara is a concept that uses the fluid mechanics of water to direct the plastic towards the receptacle without using any extra force other than the same mechanism which drives the machine forward. It is a simple machine yet sturdy in its structure. Propelled by a basic motor and remote, it can be customised to increase its capacity by using a heavy-duty motor and making adjustments to pulley.

Based on its current capacity, it can collect up to three kg of floating garbage in one go.  The machine is ideal for catching floating Styrofoam cups, plastic bottles and bags and dead floating insects. What makes it unique from other pond and ocean cleaning devices is its mobility in water bodies. Another added advantage of this machine is that unlike other models, it doesn’t need to be installed around the polluted water bodies. It could be effortlessly used to clean swimming pools as well.

Varun narrates, ”This model is made up of a paddle wheel operated by a motor and a pulley. It can be controlled using a remote. The paddle wheel pushes the vessel ahead and navigates the floating garbage to the net tail bin. The tail bin is attached to a basket which could be removed to unload the floating garbage collected inside it.”

He opines that using such simple models could extensively contribute in clearing garbage from polluted lakes and ponds. Apart from this, it would also be beneficial for the manual labourers working nearby dirty ponds or municipal workers cleaning these polluted water bodies as it is hazardous to their health and well-being. Scaled up, this model can work on larger bodies of water and even oceans. It could help to save our marine life and balance aquatic ecosystem largely. Talking of his future plans, he shares, “With heavy duty motor and bigger scale model, this vessel has the potential to clean up the coastal areas and it could be even workable on oceans. With proper funding, I wish to use this model to sweep oceans too. I even plan to make it energy efficient by generating hydroelectricity in future.”

He aims to develop this model so that he could view it working on a larger scale. What sparked his curiosity about increasing pollution has led him to design a model which would help to eliminate this problem. Such young ignited minds are taking the winds of change ahead.

Source….Ankita Singh in https://thelogicalindian.com/

Natarajan

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Mail Delivery By Rockets…..

The history of the postal system is inextricably tied to the history of transport. Advances in transportation technology have not only allowed people to travel farther and explore more territory, it also allowed the postal system to expand their influence over a larger area. As new inventions and discoveries shortened the time of travel, messages and letters began to reach distant recipients in lesser time, and the postal system became more efficient. By the time the first trans-pacific airmail was delivered, the postal service had tried every mode of transport available to man, including rockets.

The cover of a rocket mail delivered in the state of Sikkim, India, on 28 September, 1935. Photo credit:regencystamps.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The earliest type of missile mail was one which you’ve probably seen in historical movies where a parchment is wrapped around the shaft of an arrow and shot through the air into a castle or enemy territory. A more modern version of the idea was presented to an astonished audience by a German poet and dramatist, Heinrich von Kleist, through a newspaper article in 1810. At that time rocketry was still in its infancy. Rockets of that age were gunpowder powered and were primarily used as artillery in battlefields. Kleist amused himself by calculating that a rocket could deliver a letter from Berlin to Breslau, a distance of 180 miles, in half a day or one-tenth of the time required by a horse mounted carrier.

Kleist’s theory was put into practice on the small Polynesian island of Tonga, halfway around the world, by a British inventor, Sir William Congreve, using rockets he designed. But the rockets were so unreliable that the idea of using them in mail delivery was summarily dismissed, and no further thought was put into it until nearly a century later, when Hermann Julius Oberth, a German physicist and engineer and one of the founding fathers of rocketry, revisited the topic in 1927.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hermann Oberth (center, in profile) demonstrates his tiny liquid-fuel rocket engine in Berlin in 1930. Photo credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

In June 1928, Professor Oberth delivered a convincing lecture on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Scientific Society of Aeronautics in Danzig, where he proposed the development of small rockets with automatic guidance that could carry urgent mail over distances of 600 to 1,200 miles. Professor Oberth’s lecture generated a great deal of interest throughout the world, and even the American ambassador to Germany took note. But it was a young Austrian engineer that became a pioneer in this field.

Living in the Austrian Alps, the young engineer Friedrich Schmiedl was well aware of the fact that mail delivery was extremely painful between mountain villages. What could be an eight hour walk between two villages could be only two miles apart as the rocket flies. Friedrich Schmiedl was already experimenting with solid-fuel rockets, and in 1928 undertook experiments with stratospheric balloons. After several unsuccessful attempts, Schmiedl launched the first rocket mail in 1931 and delivered 102 letters to a place five kilometers away. The rocket was remotely controlled and landed using a parachute. His second rocket delivered 333 letters.

Schmiedl’s rocket mails inspired several other countries such as Germany, England, the Netherlands, USA, India and Australia to conduct similar experiments with varying degree of success. In 1934, in an attempt to demonstrate to the British the viability of his rocket delivery system, a German businessman named Gerhard Zucker loaded a rocket with 4,800 pieces of mail and launched it from an island in Scotland. Government officials watched as the rocket soared into the sky and exploded, scattering scorched letters all over the beach like confetti. After his failed demonstration, Zucker was deported back to Germany where he was immediately arrested on suspicion of espionage or collaboration with Britain.

Experiments on rocket mail were largely successful in India, where a pioneering aerospace engineer named Stephen Smith perfected the techniques of delivering mail by rocket. Between 1934 and 1944, Smith made 270 launches, at least 80 of which contained mail. Smith created history when he delivered by rocket the first food package containing rice, grains, spices and locally-made cigarettes to the earthquake wracked region of Quetta, now in Pakistan, across a river. Later, Smith tied a cock and a hen together to one of his rockets and launched the frightened birds across another river. Both birds survived the trip and were donated to a private zoo in Calcutta after their ordeal. His next parcel contained a snake and an apple.

Despite his quirky nature and questionable choice of payload, Stephen Smith was wholeheartedly supported by the Maharaja of Sikkim, a British Protectorate in the eastern Himalayas, where he carried most of his rocket experiments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 1934 Indian Rocket Mail. Photo credit: www.stampcircuit.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Indian Rocket Mail from 1934. Photo credit: www.stampcircuit.com

Things didn’t really took off in the US until 1959, when the Post Office Department fired a Regulus cruise missile with its nuclear warhead replaced by two mail containers, towards a Naval Station in Mayport, Florida. The 13,000-pound missile lifted off with 3,000 letters and twenty-two minutes later struck the target at Mayport, 700 miles away. The letters were retrieved, stamped and circulated as usual.

All 3,000 letters were copies of the same written by the Postmaster General. Each crew member of the submarine that launched the missile received a copy of the letter, so did President Eisenhower and other US leaders as well as postmasters from around the world.

“The great progress being made in guided missilery will be utilized in every practical way in the delivery of the United States mail,” the letter read. “You can be certain that the Post Office Department will continue to cooperate with the Defense Department to achieve this objective.”

The successful delivery of the mails prompted Postmaster Summerfield to enthusiastically declare that “before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles.”

But it was not to be. The cost of rocket mail was too high—that little experiment with the Regulus cruise missile cost the US government $1 million, but generated only $240 in revenue by sale of postage stamps. Neither the Post Office nor the Department of Defense could justify the cost of using missile mail, especially when airplanes were already making mail deliveries across the world in a single night at the fraction of a cost.

And that was the end of the program. No further attempts to deliver mail by rockets have been made since then.

Source….. Kaushik in http://www.amusing planet.com

Natarajan

 

“எட்டு அடி குழியில் 3000 லிட்டர் மழை நீர் சேமிப்பு” – அசத்தும் கோயம்புத்தூர்காரர்கள்!

 

“மழை நீர்… உயிர் நீர்…”, “மரம் வளர்ப்போம்; மழை பெறுவோம்…” இப்படி மழை நீருக்காக ஏராளமான வாசகங்கள் பெரும்பாலும், வாகனங்களின் பின்புறம்தான் எழுதப்படுகின்றன. கான்கிரீட் காடான நகரங்களில் மழை நீர், சாக்கடையிலும், கடலிலும்தான் கலக்கின்றன. பெய்யும் மழை நீரைச் சேகரிக்க முடியாமல், கோடை காலத்தில், தண்ணீர் பஞ்சம் ஏற்பட்டு, கேன் தண்ணீரை நம்பி காலத்தை ஓட்டி வருகிறோம்.

கோவையில் இந்தாண்டு கோடை காலம் முதலே நல்ல மழை பெய்து வருகிறது. கோவையில் ஓராண்டில் பெய்யும் சராசரி மழை அளவு 620 மி.மீட்டர். இந்த நீரைச் சேகரித்தாலே குடிநீர் பஞ்சம் எட்டிக்கூட பார்க்காது. ஆனால், பெய்யும் மழை நீரைச் சேகரிக்க முடியாததால், கடந்த சில ஆண்டுகளாக, கோவையில் கோடை காலத்தில் கடுமையான தண்ணீர் பஞ்சம் ஏற்படுகிறது. நிலத்தடி நீர் மட்டமும் கணிசமாகக் குறைந்துவிட்டது.

இந்நிலையில், கோவையில் மழை நீரைச் சேமிப்பதற்காக, பொது இடங்களில், மழைநீர் சேகரிப்புக் கிணற்றை தன்னார்வலர்கள் அமைத்து வருகின்றனர். அதன்படி, இந்தியாவின் “மழைநீர் மனிதன்” என்று அழைக்கப்படும் சேகர் ராகவனின் ஆலோசனைப்படி, ரேக் அமைப்பு, கோவை குளங்கள் பாதுகாப்பு அமைப்பு மற்றும் சில நல்ல உள்ளங்கள் உதவியுடன், கோவை மாநகராட்சியுடன் இணைந்து மழைநீர் சேகரிப்பு கிணறை அமைத்து வருகின்றனர்.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

மழைநீர் சேகரிப்பு கிணறு

மழை நீர் அதிகளவில் வீணாகக்கூடிய பொது இடங்களில், குழி தோண்டி, அதில் கான்கிரீட் ரிங்கை அமைத்தால் போதும். உதாரணத்துக்கு எட்டு அடி குழிதோண்டி, அதில் தொட்டி போல, நான்கு அடி விட்டமுள்ள, காங்கிரீட் ரிங்கை இறக்கி வைத்தால்போதும். சராசரியாக எட்டு அடி ஆழமுள்ள குழியில் 3,000 லிட்டர் நீரை சேமிக்கலாம். இதில் சேமிக்கப்படும் நீர், கொஞ்சம், கொஞ்சமாக நிலத்தில் இறங்கும். இதன் மூலம், சுற்றுவட்டாரப் பகுதிகளில் நிலத்தடி நீர் மட்டம் உயரும். சென்னையில் வெற்றி பெற்ற இந்த மழைநீர் சேகரிப்புக்கிணறுகளை, கோவையில் முதல்கட்டமாக, குறிச்சி பகுதியில் மாநகராட்சிக்கு சொந்தமான ரிசர்வ் சைட்டிலும், துடியலூர் பகுதியிலும் நடைமுறைப்படுத்தியுள்ளனர்.

இதுகுறித்து சேகர் ராகவன், “பூமிக்குள் நீர் இறங்குவதற்கு, 10 முதல் 15 அடி ஆழத்துக்கு குழி தோண்டலாம்.  நமக்கு தகுந்தாற்போல் ரிங் அமைத்துக் கொள்ளலாம். ஆண்டுக்கு ஒரு முறை மட்டும் இதைச் சுத்தம் செய்தால் போதும். இதை வீடுகளிலும் அமைக்கலாம். தெருக்களின் ஓரமாகவும் அமைக்கலாம். நீர் சேமித்து வைக்கும் தொட்டியாக இதைப் பார்க்கக் கூடாது. நீரை நிலத்தடிக்கு அனுப்பி வைக்கும் திட்டமாகத்தான் பார்க்கவேண்டும். சென்னையில் பல இடங்களில் இந்த மழைநீர் சேகரிப்புக் கிணற்றை அமைத்துள்ளோம். இதன் மூலம் வெள்ள அபாயத்தையும் தவிர்க்கலாம். நிலத்தடி நீர் அளவையும் அதிகரிக்கலாம். குறிப்பாக, அடுக்குமாடி குடியிருப்புப் பகுதிகளில் இதுபோன்ற கிணறுகளை அமைப்பது மிகவும் நல்லது. நிலத்தடி நீர் என்பது, வங்கியை போன்றது. அதில் தண்ணீரைச் செலுத்தினால்தான், மீண்டும் அதில் இருந்து, தண்ணீரை எடுக்க  முடியும். 10 அடி ஆழம், 3 அடி காங்கிரீட் ரிங்குடன் கூடிய மழை நீர் சேகரிப்பு கிணறை அமைக்க 12 ஆயிரம் ரூபாய் ஆகும்” என்றார்.

ரேக் (Raac) அமைப்பின் ரவீந்திரன், “தற்போதைக்கு, பெரும்பாலான பகுதிகளில், மழை நீரைச் சேகரிப்பதற்காக, 200 அடிக்கு போர் போட்டு, ஆறு அடிக்கு குழித் தோண்டி, அதில் கற்களை போடுவார்கள். இதற்கு 75 ஆயிரம் ரூபாய்வரை செலவாகும். எல்லோராலும் இதை அமைக்க முடியாது. அவற்றை பராமரிப்பதும் கடினம். ஆனால், மழை நீர் சேகரிப்புக் கிணறுகளை அமைக்க அவ்வளவு செலவு ஆகாது. இதை, பராமரிப்பதும் மிகவும் எளிது. 15 ஆயிரம் ரூபாய் செலவுசெய்து ஓர் கிணற்றை அமைத்தால், அதன் மூலம் 15 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு மழை நீரைச் சேமிக்கலாம். பொது இடங்களில் மழை நீரைச் சேமிப்பதற்கு இது மிகவும் எளிதான வழி. இதுதொடர்பாக, மக்களிடையே விழிப்பு உணர்வும் செய்து வருகிறோம். மழைக்காலம் முழுவதுமே மழை நீர் சேகரிப்புக் கிணற்றை அமைக்கத் திட்டமிட்டுள்ளோம்”  என்றார்.

சமூக ஆர்வலர் டிம்பிள் கூறுகையில், “சென்னை அண்ணாநகரில் என் உறவினர் வீடு உள்ளது. அவர்களுடையே தெருவே லாரி தண்ணீரை பிடித்துக் கொண்டிருக்கும். ஆனால், இவர்கள் பிடிக்க மாட்டார்கள். அப்போதுதான், மழைநீர் சேகரிப்பு கிணறு குறித்துத் தெரியவந்தது. அப்போதிலிருந்தே, இந்தத் திட்டத்தைக் கோவைக்கு கொண்டு வரவேண்டும் என்று ஆசை இருந்தது. எங்களது அப்பார்ட்மென்ட் அருகே, இப்படி வீணாகும் மழைநீரை பார்க்கும்போது, எனக்கு வருத்தமாக இருக்கும். பின்னர், சேகர் ராகவனுடன் ஆலோசித்து, எங்களுடைய அப்பார்ட்மென்ட் அருகே உள்ள ரிசர்வ் சைட்டில் கிணறு அமைத்தோம். 2,500 சதுரடி பகுதியில் பெய்யும் மழை நீர், இதில் சேமிக்கப்படும். கோவை முழுவதும் இதுபோன்று 44 ஆயிரம் குழிகள் அமைக்கலாம் என்கின்றனர். அப்படி அமைக்கும்போது, நிலத்தடி நீரின் அளவு ஒன்பது மீட்டர் வரை அதிகரிக்கும். எனவே, பள்ளிகள், அரசு அலுவலகங்கள், ஷாப்பிங் மால்கள் போன்ற பகுதிகளில் இதுபோன்ற கிணறுகளை அமைக்கலாம். அந்தப் பகுதிகளில் உள்ள மக்கள் இணைந்து, தங்களின் பங்களிப்பில்கூட இதுபோன்று குழிகளை அமைக்கலாம்” என்றார்.

மழை பெய்வதற்கு முயற்சி செய்யாவிடினும், குறைந்தது பெய்யும் மழை நீரையாவது சேமிக்க முன் வருவோம்…!

Source….. http://www.vikatan.com

Natarajan

This 69 year old Man has helped start free Libraries across Chennai , and YOU can too !

No membership, no one to supervise, and no last date to return books: Mahendra Kumar’s libraries run on no rules, and plenty of goodwill.

Chennai-based Mahendra Kumar speaks about reading and books with reverence and passion. “It is a character-building activity,” he says earnestly.

In April 2015, he decided to do something which he hoped would encourage people to read: He opened a library in Thirumullaivoyal, Chennai.

It wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill library. The most unique part about it wasn’t even that it was set up in a cement shop, where 69-year-old Mahendra shared a table with the shopkeeper.

What truly set it apart was there was no membership fee, no register to keep track. Literally anyone could walk in, pick up one of the 20 books, and take it home. They could return it whenever they wanted.   

This was the first Read and Return Free Library (RFL). Now, Mahendra says that there are 66 of them across TN, and a few other states, with 10,000 books in all.

His first library in Thirumillaivoyal has now expanded to three cupboards, which he keeps outside his house,bursting with books. It stands completely unmanned.

“I could have kept a register perhaps, where people could sign with the book they were taking,” he adds as an afterthought. But Mahendra snaps out of it the very next moment. “I wanted no protocols, no control. Just people free to read and return books, as per their conscience.”

Encouraging others

Presently, there are 48 RFL libraries in Chennai alone. The others are in Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Aurangabad and Mumbai.

But setting these up has not been an easy task. Unable to travel to these places himself, Mahendra would try to convince others to start such libraries.

“I would sometimes see contact numbers in books. Someone who has written an introduction or a foreword – I’d try to find their numbers. I would try to convince them then to start this in their locality. And I would send whatever little money I could to help them,” Mahendra shares.

One such person he convinced was a former classmate of his, Captain R Venkataraman, who started a RFL library in T Nagar, Chennai, in 2016.

“But there are only so many friends or family members who can be convinced,” Mahendra says. “If there are 66 libraries today, you can assume I made 6,000 calls for them.”

Not as easy as it seems

In the past two years, RFL libraries have sprung up in many different places – gated communities, railway stations, hospitals and even a barber shop.

RFL at a Railway Station….

Mahendra is reluctant to share that this has required a considerable amount of legwork and resources from him. He believes it will discourage people, and make them wary of starting more RFLs.

“When people initially came to know about the concept, they wanted to donate books. So I would speak to a few of them, start at 5 am in the morning, make a round with multiple stops and come back with a car full of books,” he recounts. “Sometimes, I would sleep in the car because I’d get tired.”

The problem was that everyone wanted to donate books, but no one wanted to start the library. “Sometimes, people seemed on board with the idea, but they don’t really follow it up with action. I have been wanting to start one RFL library in Bengaluru as well, and got a volunteer too. But they have not really taken it forward after that.”

Mahendra says that he is ready to send some books, and whatever token amount he can from his pocket to help them get started, if only people volunteer.

He also mentions that he is grateful for his wife, who has never raised an objection against him going around the city at odd hours to collect books, and spending money for the RFLs.

Helping students

Mahendra put together the RFL website in 2016. While he is not very familiar with the internet, he says that he somehow learnt some basics and put it together. “The logo looks very childish, no? I made it on Microsoft Paint,” he says, sounding anxious.

The sole purpose for starting the website, he says, is to promote something called ‘Students Corner’.

It allows students to post requirements for second-hand course books, as well as if they have books to donate. Once they fill a form under that section on the site, other students can see it and get in touch. The donor can either mail the books or have them collected by the recipient, as per convenience.

However, Mahendra rues that this has not become as popular as he would have liked it to be.

He also wishes for more people to start RFLs in their localities. “But, it is quite simple really. You just have to see it from time to time to ensure that the infrastructure, wherever you’ve put it, is okay. You can also start it, madam!” he says, cheerfully.

Source…..Geetika Mantri in https://www.thenewsminute.com/

Natarajan

After Coimbatore’s Water Table Collapsed, This Simple Initiative Revived It…Thanks to ” Siruthuli “

As cities across India are facing a severe shortage of water, Coimbatore has been trying to preserve and recharge its groundwater levels. At the forefront of this change is Siruthuli, an NGO that is dedicated to cleaning Coimbatore, and infusing green methods throughout the city!

Coimbatore, which was once a place of abundant rainfall, was shaken to reality following a drought in 2003.

As part of its initiative to recharge groundwater levels in the city, Siruthuli has implemented rainwater harvesting structures (RWH).                                               

“In 2003, Coimbatore received 65% less rainfall than in previous years. This made us release the need to save water, and harvest it when there was adequate rainfall,” says Shruthi Suresh, a representative of the organisation.

The organisation conducted a series of geo-hydrological studies in 2005, to better analyse how to approach the conservation of groundwater in the region. In association with the Corporation of Coimbatore, Siruthuli began conducting rainwater harvesting structures in various locations across the city.

However, one of the significant challenges of the construction was the fact that Coimbatore was primarily a hard rock structure, and thus percolation of water was difficult. The organisation persevered and came up with the idea of drilling bore wells for groundwater.

“We came up with this technique to recharge the groundwater. We recommended two types of structures using this technique. The first simply recharges the aquifers, while the other not only recharges but also pumps the harvested waters so that it can be used,” she explains.

According to Shruthi, the structures are installed in both open spaces, as well as on roadsides.

Today, thanks to the efforts of this organisation, Coimbatore has more than 600 rainwater harvesting structures in different locations across the city.

However, on average it has been observed that the open spaces have seen a much higher level of maintenance than the ones on the roadside ones. There have been instances where some of the roadside RWH structures have been shut down for new roads and construction.

However, the organisation is optimistic and has seen significant growth in groundwater tables, from the time the wells have been implemented. This can be seen in the table below:

The water that is harvested from the ground is what is used extensively for not only daily use but as drinking water. It, therefore, becomes imperative for the citizens of the city, to maintain and use the water judiciously.

Today, even with a shortage of water, Coimbatore maintains stable and sustainable groundwater tables.

This initiative goes along with one of the organisation’s chief objectives, titled, “Water Watch,” under which, they aim to not only recharge groundwater, but also rejuvenate water bodies, and restore the River Noyyal. The river, which once had 34 streams, is now reduced to just four.

In the future, Siruthuli plans to conduct a comprehensive study of the entire region. This will be done to better understand natural drains, vegetation, groundwater levels, land use, and livelihoods. The study will form the basis for developing watershed concepts, RWH structures, and more. These will be applied across Coimbatore, after a series of awareness campaigns.

Siruthuli has also been involved in spreading the message of going green and educating the next generation for the same.

You can read about their initiatives here!

Source…..Anakha Arikara  in http://www.the better india .com

Natarajan

 

Meet Muruganantham, the real Pad Man…

His low-cost machines that make sanitary pads have earned him international recognition. A Muruganantham’s story is now being told on the big screen as Pad Man

A Muruganantham’s life is a haze of interviews to newspapers, TV channels and radio stations. His phone doesn’t stop ringing and his wife sees him only during meal times. To the world, he is a social entrepreneur; ‘Pad man’, ‘Menstrual man’; ‘The man who wore a sanitary napkin’: the low-cost sanitary napkin machine that he created is changing the lives of thousands of women across the world.

But at his home in Coimbatore, he’s a busy father whose bonding time with his daughter is during his work tours —he takes her along since he’s rarely home; an elusive husband with whom his wife seeks an appointment —she says this jokingly to us, but there’s truth in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just the same

There’s a Bollywood movie about him that’s releasing this week and he has gained international recognition. But the man is matter-of-fact about his celebrity status. “My work remains the same,” he says, seated in the living room of his rented house. “Tomorrow, I will walk into a remote village with my machine and no one will recognise me,” he says. “Nothing has changed or will change.” But the cause that he upholds —to take sanitary pads to every nook and corner of India —is gradually gaining momentum. In another 30 years, Muruganantham is sure that he will ensure 100% penetration.

It’s like breaking a massive mountain with a sledgehammer singlehandedly—the stigma surrounding the subject is as such. Which is what makes his story interesting. Muruganantham recalls how his obsession to research on sanitary napkins earned him nothing but ridicule from those around him. “My fellow villagers thought I was a vampire,” he laughs. “I came close to being tied up to a tree.” Muruganantham wanted to create low-cost sanitary towels.

His work took bizarre turns —he strapped onto himself a machine fashioned using a football bladder that pumped out blood into a sanitary pad that he wore. He was that mad scientist the world just didn’t understand. In 2006, when his innovation won an award from the then President Pratibha Patil, his life changed forever.

“My machines now run in 4,800 points in India and in 29 other countries,” he says. His story has appeared in several foreign language publications—Hebrew being one of them. It’s only natural that it be made into a feature film.

Now a feature film

Pad Man, directed by R Balki, featuring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte, and Sonam Kapoor, presents Muruganantham’s journey from a school drop-out to a social entrepreneur. “It does have ‘masala’ elements, being a Bollywood film,” says Muruganantham. He worked with the crew for over three years, helping them set up his machines on the sets and demonstrating his work.

The story is set in Madhya Pradesh and not Tamil Nadu. Muruganantham feels that only then will the cause have a pan-India reach. “I did have Tamil filmmakers approach me,” he says. “But I didn’t want the film to be confined to one part of the country.” Elusive that he is, it took a while for actor and writer Twinkle Khanna, who has produced the film, to pin him down for a conversation. “She contacted me in 2015,” says Muruganantham. Khanna featured Muruganantham in her 2016 book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad.

Pad Man is the first feature film that talks about women’s monthly period,” he says. With barely any knowledge of Hindi, Muruganantham managed to effectively convey his thoughts to the team. “It helped that director Balki and the cinematographer PC Sreeram knew Tamil,” he says.

Despite his wide network of employees and volunteers, Muguganantham personally travels with his machines to train women to make sanitary napkins in regions affected by extremism. He rolls off names of villages that many may not have heard of — Dhamtari, Lakshmipuramu, Gajroli, Tehri… Many girls in such villagers don’t attend school due to lack of awareness and access to sanitary pads. Murugnanantham is changing that. This is the best thing about his innovation—that a village girl who shut herself at home simply because she menstruated, can finally go to school.

In all these years of working on menstrual hygiene, what Muruganatham finds most difficult to deal with, is the superstition surrounding it. “Women in rural India have the strangest beliefs surrounding the monthly period,” he says. He is trying to break these by educating them. In a tribal village in the Nilgiris, women believed that if they used a sanitary towel, their eyes will be taken away. Muruganantham says, “A girl used it for two months and told her friends ‘Look, my eyes are still intact’.”

Source…Akila Kannadasan in http://www.the hindu.com

Natarajan