Arunachalam Muruganantham- The Real Pad Man

Image result for Arunachalam MurugananthamA social entrepreneur from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, Arunachalam Muruganantham invented a low-cost sanitary pad-making machine and generated awareness about hygienic menstruation practices in rural India. From being a school dropout born to handloom weavers who grew in poverty to being awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India, the journey of challenging a ‘taboo’ in India was tough.

The seeds were sown in 1998 when he saw his wife using old rags as sanitary pads during menstruation. A newly married couple, he wanted to impress his wife and hence, asked her to use sanitary pads instead of the old clothes. However, she refused as it was too expensive. Hence, despite failing terribly, he used different materials to make a prototype for sanitary pads every month.  He experimented them on his wife, but the feedback would require a month’s time. His sisters refused to use it. He, then, approached some female medical students nearby to try his product, but they were too shy and could not him an exact feedback. Hence, he decided to wear the pad himself.

Image result for Arunachalam MurugananthamFrom a football bladder, he created a ‘uterus’ for himself and filled it with goat’s blood, which would squeeze out the blood on to the pad at regular intervals. Despite mixing an additive to prevent the blood from clotting, the smell did not stop. He was called a ‘pervert’ in the society and his wife even decided to leave him and served him a divorce notice. As his father was a handloom worker, he was well aware about the nitty-gritties of the machine and cotton pads. Two years of finding the right material and four years of processing resulted in an easy-to-use machine for producing low-cost sanitary pads. IIT Madras registered his invention for the National Innovation Foundation's Grassroots Technological Innovations Award and he won in 2006.

In a society, where imported machines would cost around INR 35 million, Muruganantham’s machine costed INR 65,000. Hence, women could buy this machine and produce their own sanitary pads, thereby creating jobs in India. This revolution sells 1,300 machines to 27 states as well as developing countries all over the world. Today, he runs Jayashree Industries, with 2003 units across India, including Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The extraordinary venture of Muruganantham’s journey is highlighted in the upcoming film PadMan, starring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor.