Here are 3 Motivating Stories that will help you surge ahead!

 

India’s Menstrual Man

It all began in 1998, when Arunachalam Muruganantham, the son of poor handloom weavers in South India, realized that his wife was using old rags to deal with menstruation because she couldn’t afford sanitary pads. Muruga was shocked. But he also saw a chance to impress her. He decided to produce her sanitary pads himself. At first, it seemed a simple task. He bought a roll of cotton wool and cut it into pieces, the same size as the pads sold in the shops, and then wrapped a thin layer of cotton around it. He presented this homemade prototype pad to his wife and asked her to test it. The feedback she gave him was devastating! His pad was useless and she would rather continue using old rags.

Where did he go wrong? What was the difference between his sanitary pads and those available at the shop? Muruga started experimenting with different materials, but was faced with another problem: he always had to wait a month before his wife could test each new prototype. Muruga needed volunteers and had an idea where he might find them. He asked medical students at a university close to his village. Some of them actually tested his pads but they were too shy to give him detailed feedback. Left with no alternative, he decided to test the sanitary pads himself. He built a uterus using a rubber bladder, filled it with animal blood and fixed it to his hip. A tube led from the artificial uterus to the sanitary pad in his underpants. By pressing the bladder he simulated the menstrual flow.

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Unfortunately, he began to smell foul and his clothes were often stained with blood. His neighbors soon noticed this. It was clear to them that Muruga was either ill or perverted. After a while, his wife couldn’t stand the constant gossip. She left him and went to live with her mother.

But Muruga didn’t give up. He knew why he was going through all this. During his research, he had learned that only ten to twenty percent of all girls and women in India have access to proper menstrual hygiene products. This was no longer just about helping his wife. Muruga was on a mission: to produce low-cost sanitary pads for all the girls and women in his country.

It was two years before he finally found the right material and another four years before he developed a way to process it. The result was an easy-to-use machine for producing low-cost sanitary pads.Imported machines cost over US$500,000. Muruga’s machine, by contrast, is priced at US$950. Now women’s groups or schools can buy his machine, produce their own sanitary pads and sell the surplus. In this way, Muruga’s machine has created jobs for women in rural India. He has started a revolution in his own country, selling 1,300 machines to 27 states, and has recently begun exporting them to developing countries all over the world.

Today he is one of India’s most well-known social entrepreneurs and TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014.

Several corporations have offered to buy his machine, but he has refused, instead preferring to sell to women’s self-help groups.

This IIT Professor Who once taught Raghuram Rajan is now working for tribals

A degree in engineering from IIT Delhi, a Masters degree, and a PhD from Houston were just stepping stones for Alok Sagar, an ex-IIT professor. Alok has been living for 32 years in the remote tribal villages of Madhya Pradesh and serving the people living there.

While teaching at IIT Delhi, Alok had groomed numerous students, including Raghuram Rajan, the ex-RBI governor. After resigning from his work, Alok started working for tribals in the Betul and Hoshangabad districts of Madhya Pradesh. For the past 26 years, he has been living in Kochamu, a remote village with 750 tribals, lacking both electricity and roads, and with just a primary school.

Alok has planted more than 50,000 trees in the region, and believes that people can serve the country better by working at the grassroots level. Alok has been quoted saying “In India, people are facing so many problems, but people are busy proving their intelligence by showing their degrees rather than serving people,”

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Alok continues to maintain a low profile. During Betul’s recent district elections, local authorities grew suspicious and asked him to leave. Alok revealed his long list of qualifications, which the district administration, to their surprise, verified to be true!

What makes Alok’s story truly inspiring is his simplicity. He owns just three sets of kurtas and a cycle and spends his day collecting and distributing seeds among tribals. Alok can speak many languages and dialects used by tribals in the region. Closely associated with the Shramik Adiwasi Sangathan, he spends most of his time working for their upliftment.

Defying age with a sword: Meenakshi Gurrukkal, Kerala’s grand old Kalaripayattu dame

At 74, she is possibly the oldest woman exponent of Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial arts from Kerala. Meenakshi Gurukkal crouched low, sword poised; her eyes unblinking as she faced her opponent in the mud-paved ‘Kalari’ or arena. From the tree tops, a mynah’s call resonated in the silence. In a flash she moved to attack, twirling her sword; metal clashing loudly as it made contact with a shield.

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She has been practicing Kalaripayattu for no less than sixty-eight years – training and teaching.

Around 150 students learn Kalaripayattu in her school Kadathanadan Kalari Sangam, in a tiny hamlet in Vadakara, near Calicut, Kerala. From June to September every year, classes are held thrice a day teaching the Northern style of Kalaripayattu, including “uzhichil” or massages for aches and pains. Techniques have been passed down through generations, written in a palm ‘booklet’, gray and delicate with age. When school term is over, Meenakshi takes part in performances. “Nowadays, apart from teaching, I practice only when I have a show,” she says nonchalantly. This, from someone who on an average performs in 60 shows a year.

More than a third of the students are girls, aged between six and twenty-six. Meenakshi’s school welcomes children from all walks of life. “Gender and community are totally irrelevant. What matters is age. The earlier you start, the more proficient you are,” she explains.

The school runs on a ‘no fees’ principle. At the end of each year, students give her whatever guru Dakshina they chose to. Today, some of her students are now Gurukkals or masters themselves.

The Kalari walls display weapons – fist daggers, shields, spears, thick wooden rods, tusk-shaped ‘ottas’ and ‘urumis’ – long flexible blades used in combat. Among them is a shield, polished, but old with use – one that Meenakshi herself had trained with as a young girl.

She started learning Kalaripayattu at the age of six, when her father had taken her and her sister to a local Kalari. “There were only a handful of girls in our class. But my father wasn’t bothered. He was determined we learn Kalaripayattu,” she says.

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