Friday, August 23, 2013

P. Kalyanasundaram, Man of the Millennium - Heartwarming and Inspirational Story

I first saw a post on facebook and then I dug a bit deeper into the anonymous life of P. Kalyanasundarma of Tiruneveli who was awarded the 'Man of the Millenium' award of Rs. 30 crore by a US organization. What did he do? Paalam Kalyanasundaram did what he does best with money - he donated the entire amount to the service of the needy. That's not all. He also was named as one of the 'Outstanding People of the 20th Century' by the United Nations Organization and was recognized as one of the 'noblest of the world' by The International Biographical Centre, Cambridge. Rajnikanth has adopted him as his father.

Born in a rich agricultural family according to some reports on the net, Kalyanasundaram studied Library Sciences (and was a gold medallist) and is an MA in Literature and History. He showed signs of his resilience when he insisted on doing the course he chose, library sciences, despite the authorities trying to convince him to take another course as he was the only one. But they had to relent. Kalyanasundaram put his knowledge to good use - he was awarded the Best Librarian in India by the Union Government and was chosen as one of the top 10 librabrians in the world.

It's quite clear now that he is resilient, focussed and wants to be the best in whatever he does. Kalyanasundaram, as a student, got inspired by Nehru's speech to contribute to the war during the Indo-China war and gave away his gold chain to the then CM Kamaraj. The CM gave him and award for his contribution. The event got some press. But somewhere then an incident happened that changed his life forever.

Kalyanasundaram went to a popular Tamil Journal 'Ananda Vikatan' with the news, hoping that more youngsters would get inspired to donate. But he got a rather caustic response from the editor of that publication to come back after having proved his sincerity over a longer period of five years. Stung, he resolved to do his bit. Here I must insist on mentioning that perhaps the unpleasant work that the editor S. Balasubramanian did was probably one of the greatest motivators on this long and arduous journey of Kalyanasundaram. Many times, it is such incidents that pod us to our own good.

While in college he started the International Children's Welfare Organization to help slum children. When he got a job as a librarian at the Kumarakurupara Arts College, Srivaiguntam, Thoothukdi district, he started by putting away Rs. 40 for personal expenses and Rs. 100 for children's welfare. Soon he decided to donate his entire salary to the the needy and did some odd jobs such as working in a hotel or a laundry to sustain himself. For the next 27 years, he donated his entire salary to the cause of the children. When he got arrears, he donated the one lakh rupees to the Collector's Fund. That event got him much publicity thanks to the Collector and Kalyanasundaram surfaced from his anonymity. He donated his entire retirement benefits and what he got from the sale of his ancestral property to the social cause. He owns nothing. He has slept on pavements and railway platforms to understand what it feels to be homeless. His life is devoted to children, poor and the needy.

Kalyanasundaram, a bachelor all his life, runs 'Paalam' an organization that helps bridge the gap between donors and the weaker sections. His famous quote - "We cannot sustain ourselves, unless we contribute to the society in someway or the other. I strongly feel if even one person does his bit towards social good, there will be some change.' Paalam can be reached at 044 - 24402524.

In a world where we are constantly wringing our hands at how hopeless the situation has become here is a message from a man who proves that you need nothing to help others and that you can be the best in your chosen area of work. It is an astounding commitment to what one believes in. P. Kalyanasundaram is a shining example of someone who has walked the path and has shown the path to several others. You don't need to wait till you make excess money to donate - you can do it now. It's a hard path but even if we all walk a bit of the way with him, we would have paid our tribute to the great man, his acts and his thoughts. In a small way then, we can begin our journey as well with the torchbearer.