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Kalyanasundaram – A life dedicated to service

26-07-2017 06:00 PM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream


Kalyanasundaram – A life dedicated to service | My Indian Dream

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He has been honored as one of the noblest and outstanding people of the world

P. Kalyanasundaram’s lean frame and shrill feminine voice defies his exceptional self sacrifice and extraordinary will power. Throughout his life he was engaged in uplifting the poor and needy by donating a huge part of his salary and sometimes his entire salary that he earned by working as a librarian.

Kalyanasundaram was born in August 1953 in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He lost his father at the age of one and was brought up by his mother who taught him the importance of helping the poor.

Although he hailed from a rich agricultural family, he slept on pavements and railway platforms to know how it felt to be poor and without a roof over your head. He didn’t marry so that he could donate all that he earns.He found his calling in child welfare and while he was studying at the Madras University, he started the International Children’s Welfare Organisation to help slum children. That was his initiation into social service.

His resolve was further strengthened when during the Indo China war, Pandit Nehru urged people to contribute to the defence fund. Large hearted Kalyanasundaram donated his gold chain to the National Defence Fund.

His job as a librarian earned him Rs 140 out of which he would donate Rs 100 for children’s welfare and keep only Rs 40 as personal expenses. At a point of time, he wanted to donate his entire salary and therefore, did odd jobs in a hotel or a laundry to meet his daily needs. Not one for publicity, he continued like this for 27 years.

However, in 1990 his good work came to the fore. When he received over Rs.1 lakh as arrears of his salary by the University Grants Commission, Kalyanasundaram donated it to the district collector for the higher education of orphans.

The collector was impressed by his generosity and gave it wide coverage in the media. That is when his life’s work was noticed. When you do good, goodness will follow you. Kalyanasundaram was showered with  awards and recognition.

The Government of India awarded him the best librarian prize. He was honoured as being the noblest by the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge. The United Nations declared him as the most outstanding people of the twentieth century. He was also honoured with the Man of the Millennium award by an American organisation.

Not the one to be carried away by awards, the ever humble Kalyanasundaram donated his entire prize money, which amounted to around Rs 30 crore and didn’t keep a single penny for himself.

After his retirement, Kalyanasundaram  founded an organisation called Palam which is dedicated towards the cause of the poor and the underprivileged. It serves as a link between the donors and the needy. It is the responsibility of the organization to collect money from the donors and distribute it to those who are in a need of money and assistance.

Thus Kalyanasundaram’s life is a saga of self sacrifice and inspires every individual to do his bit for the society.



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