“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.”….. P. Kalyanasundaram
The United Nations Organization adjudged Palam Kalyanasundaram as one of the ‘Outstanding People of the 20th Century’. An American organization chose him as the ‘Man of the Millennium’ and in 2011 Rotary Club of India conferred him on the Life Time of Service Award.
Mr. Kalyanasundaram, librarian by profession spent 45 years of his life helping the society. He gave his entire salary for the 35 years of work as a librarian towards charity. His retirement benefits and all his family property were all used for the social causes. He even donated the entire amount of Rs. 30 crores that he received with the Man of the Millennium award. He used to do odd part time jobs to fulfil his daily basic needs. He has slept on pavements and railway platforms to find out what it is like to be poor.
One day he listened to Jawaharlal Nehru’s supplication to contribute to defence fund during Indo-China war. He went to the then Chief Minister Kamaraj and offered him his gold chain and that might have been the beginning of his journey as a social worker.
He always wanted to pursue his Masters in Tamil language after his graduation. Since he was the only aspirant for the course, the college authority asked him to choose another subject for specialisation. But he was so determined that impressed with his dedication the founder of MTT College assured him admission in his college and also took care of his educational expenses.
‘The Union Government has acclaimed him as `The Best Librarian in India’. He has also been chosen as `one of the top ten librarians of the world’. The International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, has honoured him as `one of the noblest of the world’.
Born in 1953 in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu and he went on to study Tamil at St Xavier’s College. At that time he was so daunted about his shrill feminine voice that he even thought of committing suicide at one point. It was at that time when he met Thamizhvaanan, writer of self-improvement books, whose advice changed his perception : “Don’t bother about how you speak. Strive to make others speak good about you.” He had found his calling: child welfare.
When he donated his Gold Chain to the CM of Tamil Nadu, Mr.Kalyanasundaram thought the publication of the news in Ananda Vikatan, a popular Tamil magazine, would encourage more donations. But when he met the editor, S. Balasubramanian, he was dismissed as a publicity bounder and challenged him to prove his sincerity within five years.
Kalyanasundaram began by apportioning his salary as a college librarian: Rs.40 for personal expenses, Rs.100 for children’s welfare. The five-year period soon ended but he didn’t stop. After that he made social service as his life . At one point, he decided he would donate his entire salary and will his daily needs by doing odd jobs. The anonymous Samaritan worked thus for 27 years.
In 1990, when the University Grants Commission gave him over Rs.1 lakh as arrears of his salary, the truth was out when Kalyanasundaram gave it to the district collector for the higher education of orphans. Though he didn’t want it to be publicised, the collector gave it wide coverage in the media. It was only then that his life’s work was noticed. Recognition in the form of a spate of awards followed.
For 45 years, Kalyanasundaram’s social work focussed 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.
Palam is charitable trust which bridges donors with beneficiaries. Assistance is not merely pecuniary . Children are helped in pursuing education, medical facilities to the needy, blood donation camps are organised and blood samples are reached to hospitals during emergencies, the unemployed, elderly, sick and handicapped are rehabilitated, and free counselling is provided.
Mr. Kalyanasundaram is for sure one of the Admirable Indians who deserves the gratitude from every indian.