This story is about a man who dreamt of bringing about a social change, a transformation in the lives of women, in the age when nobody paid heed to it. This story belongs to Arunachalam Murunganantham, a social entrepreneur from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.
While he chose to take the road less traveled by, here are the common challenges that he faced.
9th Standard Passed Dreaming Of Change
He belonged to a BPL (below poverty line) family. His father was a handloom weaver, and his mother was a farm worker. He has just passed 9th standard, and so is not fluent in English.
He tries to speak his own English, with errors that educated people can tell in good English. But this doesn't make a difference to the ability to dream.
Henpecked Husband Thinking About Ladies Problem
He noticed his wife hiding something behind and escaping his sight. He became curious and asked her what it is, only to get a cute slap on his cheek, for his wife believed that it was none of his business. But he was still curious and he ran behind her to find out what it was.
He soon found a rag cloth, which his wife had thrown. To his surprise, the cloth was so nasty that he himself would have never used it just for cleaning his bike. He realized that it was an unhygienic method to deal with period days and started thinking about the ladies problem.
Irritating Fellow Asking Ladies About Sanitary Napkins
Out of discomfort, he asked his wife why she wasn't using the sanitary napkins available in the market to deal with this problem. She immediately replied that if she did so, she would have to cut the family's milk budget. He then caught the real problem - the cost factor.
He tried to buy a sanitary napkin from a medical store and was successful after several attempts. He found that one piece of sanitary napkin weighs less than 10 grams and the material used was primarily cotton. Those days, 10 grams of cotton had a cost of just 10 paise and each piece of sanitary napkin was sold was 4 rupees.
Mad Man Designing A Solution For Nasty Periods
The moment he decided to make sanitary napkin, he was termed as mad. He faced the major challenge of finding a women volunteer for research and development. The only vulnerable victim was his wife.
He made a sanitary napkin, gave it to her and demanded instant feedback. She was shocked by the concern that her husband had towards the 'ladies problem'. She told him that it's not possible immediately, for periods happen once a month. He has to wait until periods come. This was the time he understood that periods occur in a cycle.
Stupid On Reaching Medical College Girls For Help
After 15 days, she gave a negative feedback and began using the cloth once again. He felt the need for more volunteers as waiting for a month was very unaffordable. He reached out to medical college girls, for he presumed that the future doctors will have sensitivity regarding this subject.
He made a feedback sheet to get it filled from the medical college girls who shall be using the sanitary napkins. But, his aspirations saw doomsday when he saw only 3 girls filling the form for the rest of them. Those were hypothetical statistics and would not give genuine results.
First Man To Wear A Sanitary Napkin
Since nobody was coming to help him, he decided to wear it himself. He made a blood like paste, filled it in a tube, and pumped it while cycling and walking to discharge the mixture on the sanitary napkin.
It was perfect as per this experiment and so, he sent the sanitary napkin with complaints of ladies to various labs across India. All laboratories replied the same thing that it was made out of a poor quality material. This raised a new question in his mind - 'Why Cotton Was Not Working?'
Foolish To Ask For A Used Napkin
He then tried to get a used napkin from a lady, and his wife separated from him. One day when he was opening a used napkin, his mother thought he was cleaning chicken for Sunday. But, when she saw it, she began crying loudly and screamed that somebody has done black magic on her son.
In the meanwhile, he discovered what the material is inside and also that one needs a big plant to make that out.
Brave To Make World Class Napkins At Home
He was not discouraged by the complexity. He researched for more years and made small machines that did the work of the large machine in parts. He sent them to IIT for evolution and still, it remains the low-cost product made at home.
At this point, what would a businessman do? He would market the product for the huge accumulation of wealth. But this man had seen life and problems associated with poverty. He knew that bad things happen due to ignorance.
While everybody was chasing money, he did it as a social cause, making the women of village create sanitary napkins, for the women of the village. He not only created the solution, but also created employment. However, the most challenging part is that 93% women still don't use sanitary napkins in rural areas. He now envisions to reduce this percentage to as much as he can.
We hope, you finally know about the real PADMAN of India.