Arunachalam Muruganantham – The real PadMan’s life story

One day, he saw his wife Shanthi collecting old rags and newspapers secretly. When asked the reason, she slapped him.Later, he discovered that her wife used these rags as sanitary napkins since the ones made by multinational companies were too expensive. Disturbed by this, he started making his own pads out of cotton. Now we all know how Menstruation is a taboo in our country. His efforts were ridiculed at, made fun of by his village people. Even his wife and sisters rejected his initial efforts. He asked village women to volunteer for his test products, but needless to say, they didn’t cooperate. Desperate to make his efforts work, he tied a bladder with animal blood in it and wore it around himself as a sanitary pad.

Years later, he discovered, that the multinational companies used cellulose fibers derived from the pine bark wood pulp.These fibers helped to absorb the blood without getting wet. Machines used by corporate companies would cost a fortune. So he devised a low-cost machine that can grind,de-fibrate, press and sterilize the pads under UV rays. This machine cost Rs 65,000.

In  2006, he visited IIT Madras where he showed his idea which was widely accepted.They registered his invention for the National Innovation Foundation’s Grassroots Technological Innovations Award and his idea won the award and a title “Akila Kannadasan “( A man in a woman’s world ). He now receives funds and markets these machines to rural women across India.

This great, passionate man is Arunachalam Muruganantham.He received the Padma Shri for his invention of the low-cost sanitary napkin machine which has been marketed to 26 out of 29 states and his efforts at spreading awareness of the importance of hygiene in menstruation in local and rural villages.

Arunachalam has given speeches at many institutions including IIT Bombay, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and Harvard.He has also given a TED talk.In 2014, TIME magazine placed him on its list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. Inspired by his story, Amit Virmani directed a prize-winning documentary Menstrual Man.

Padman is also a soon-to-be-released movie casting Akshay Kumar, featuring the life story of this real-life superhero.

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