Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One of the Outstanding People of the 20th Century: Mr.Kalayanasundaram



Mr.Kalayanasundaram worked as a Librarian for 30 years. Every month in his 30 year experience(service), he donated his entire salary to help the needy. He worked as a server in a hotel to meet his needs. He donated even his pension amount of about ten lakh rupees to the needy.

He is the first person in the world to spend the entire earnings for a social cause. In recognition to his service, United Nations Organization adjudged him as one of the Outstanding People of the 20th Century. An American organization honored him with the ‘Man of the Millennium’ award. He received a sum of Rs 30 cores as part of this award which he distributed entirely for the needy as usual.Moved by his passion to help others, Super Star Rajinikanth adopted him as his father.

Early life :

Kalyanasundaram was born and brought up in Melakaruvelangulam village, of Nangunari taluk in Tirunelveli district. "There were only 30 houses then. No roads, no buses, no school, no electricity, not even a petty shop. I studied in the light of a kerosene lamp or by candlelight till I was about ten years old," he says.

Kalyanasundaram lost his father when he was only one year old. After completing school, he was determined to pursue a B.A degree with Tamil as the main subject. As he was the only student for the course at St. Xavier's College, Tirunelveli, the college management persuaded him to take up another subject, but he refused. Impressed by the youngster's determination to study Tamil, Karumuttu Thygaraja Chettiar, the founder of MTT Hindu College, had no hesitation admitting him to the course he wanted. Karumuttu Chettiar also bore the youngster's study expenses. "Those days I can never forget, especially the Chettiar's munificence," recalls Kalyanasundaram.

Turning point :

The turning point in his life came when he was doing library science at the Madras University. That was when the Indo-China War was on. "I was listening to Nehru on the radio requesting us to contribute to the defense fund. Immediately, I went to Chief Minister Kamaraj and gave him my gold chain. I was probably the first student to have done such a thing," he says with pride in his eyes. Kamaraj was so impressed by the gesture that he felicitated the youngster at a special function on May Day that year (1963).

For 45 years, Kalyanasundaram's social work focused on children. However, in 1998, after retirement, he decided to expand his service and, thus, Paalam was born. One of the first things he did was to direct the money he received as retirement benefit to social cause. Paalam serves as the link between donors and beneficiaries. Assistance is not only monetary. Children are helped in pursuing education, medical attention is provided to the needy, blood donation camps are organized and blood samples are reached to hospitals during emergencies, the unemployed, elderly, sick and handicapped are rehabilitated, and free counseling is provided.

"We work on the principle of gaining everybody's support. That is the reason why membership costs just a rupee a month (life membership is Rs.100). We take about anything used or unused - old newspapers, clothes and utensils - and reach these to people in need. We are sort of a bridge between donors and beneficiaries," states Kalyanasundaram.

Paalam has also taken active part in relief work during cyclones and earthquakes that have struck various parts of India.

People trust Paalam because of Kalyanasundaram and what he stands for. "I have slept on pavements and railway platforms to find out what it is like to be poor, without a roof over your head," he says, joyfully recounting an instance of his students running up to him to tell him that they had spotted his look-alike sleeping on a railway platform.

"I am a bachelor and my personal needs are meager. I am able to manage doing odd jobs in a hotel or a laundry. I simply do not wish to own anything. In fact, one of my happiest moments was when, after being chosen as the `Man of the Millennium' by an American organization, I donated the entire amount of Rs. 30 cores I received towards charity. Everything is, therefore, a state of mind. Finally, what do we take with us when we leave planet earth?" Kalyanasundaram wonders aloud!

He still stays as a bachelor and dedicated his entire life for serving the society.