Kalyanasundaram – Man of the Millenium

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KalyanaSundaram

“Everything is a state of mind. Finally, what do we take with us when we leave planet earth?”

He has donated his entire salary to charity for the 35 years he worked as a librarian. His retirement benefits and his share of family property were all used for social causes.He did odd jobs in a hotel or a laundry to meet his daily needs. No,it wasn’t easy for him as he was born into a rich agricultural family and wasn’t used to such life.

He has slept on pavements and railway platforms to find out what it is like to be poor, without a roof over your head.

During the Indo-China War when Nehru urged people contribute to the defence fund, he donated his gold chain to the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

He does not wish to own anything as he believes that we don’t take anything with us when he leave this planet.

He runs an organization `Paalam’ that serves as a bridge between donors and beneficiaries: it collects money and materials from those willing to donate and distribute them among the weaker sections.

He is P. Kalyanasundaram. The United Nations Organisation adjudged him as one of the Outstanding People of the 20th Century’. An American organisation has also selected him as the `Man of the Millennium.

‘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’.

The story of P.Kalyanasundaram

Born in August 1953 in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, Kalyanasundaram studied Tamil at St Xavier’s College. At that time he was so bothered about his shrill feminine voice that he even wanted to commit suicide at one point.  It was then that he met Thamizhvaanan, writer of self-improvement books, whose advice he never forgot: “Don’t bother about how you speak. Strive to make others speak good about you.” He had found his calling: child welfare.

While an undergraduate at Madras University, Kalyanasundaram started the International Children’s Welfare Organisation to help slum children. This was his initiation into social service. His resolve was strengthened in 1962. At the height of the Indo-China war, he made it to the columns of local newspapers when he donated his gold chain to the National Defence Fund.

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 hound and challenged 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 did not stop. After that social service became his life. At one point, he decided to donate his entire salary and met his daily needs doing odd jobs. The anonymous good Samaritan worked thus for 27 years.

In 1990, however, the truth was out. When the University Grants Commission gave him over Rs.1 lakh as arrears of his salary, 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. The gold medallist in library science, even donated the entire amount of Rs. 30 crores that he received with the Man of the Millenium award.

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.

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 organised and blood samples are reached to hospitals during emergencies, the unemployed, elderly, sick and handicapped are rehabilitated, and free counselling is provided.

“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

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36 Comments

  1. Hats off to the `Man of the Millennium.He has done something ,which is unheard of,but as he was born in 1953,he must have been only 9 at the time of India China war.Did he really donate his golden chain at that age?

    • The write-up needs some corrections, obviously.
      But this doesn’t make him any less a personality. He deserves more recognition within our country.
      I wish someone knowing him personally would correct the dates in this article.

  2. Seriously tears are coming out when we read about this persons charity,we should take him as a example to do charity.Hats of Kalyanasundaram sir,god may bless you with long and healthy life,people need you.

    • Hi sir my name is anil im from mamidalapally; dist:karimnagar in telangana. Naku meela entho cheyalani undhi bt i dont hav job and mony sir im a poor peeple soo meeru konchem hep chesthe i cen make a foundation that foundation is handicap and oldage pepole must plese help me sir my mobil no:9505260913

  3. pattabhiraman on

    I bow .my head before this great man. The state govt shd recognise his services and recommend to thecentre for awarding the highest award in the country when selfish people are grabing such awards. The rich and the politicians who are after money shd learn from sri KS.

  4. Hi sir my name is anil im from mamidalapally; dist:karimnagar in telangana. Naku meela entho cheyalani undhi bt i dont hav job and mony sir im a poor peeple soo meeru konchem hep chesthe i cen make a foundation that foundation is handicap and oldage pepole must plese help me sir

  5. A great person in the earth.
    I have not heard about any one like Mr KS.
    If some one has a pointer to CNN, we should nominate Mr KS for CNN hero (If this has not happened already)
    Great person to be a role model for all of us.

  6. Yash Treasurer on

    P. Kalyanasundaram is the RICHEST man in the history of India………………….. Against that Mukesh Ambani or any other billionaires are ALL POOR
    My salutations to P. Kalyanasundaram.

    • how can u say they are poor they are doing charity .He is not alone doing charity lakhs of people are doing charity

  7. Our Indian Govt. should recognize him as Barath Ratna… He is far better than Sachin Tendulkar, he just played for himself it is a business and earned many ways advertisements etc, etc. Moreover he exempted and save customs duty when he purchased Ferrari car from foreign. This Man “P. kalyanasundaram” should highly recognizable, paid his entire earning to whole society and weaker sections…

  8. Hello Sir, I wish this great man would have been in Bangalore. I’m a poor girl, after 8 years my marriage got fixed ppl who agreed to help are not turning up. I’ve no idea what to do is there anybody in this world to help a poor girl for her marriage. Your small help will secure my life. Thank you.

  9. मुकेश लोहानी on

    यह इंसान नहीं है लगता है साई भगवान का अवतरण है

  10. Kapil Kumar M Taunk on

    God bless u Mr Kalyanasundaram Sir u r the example to prove the God’s incarnation on Earth

  11. Great person, you are . My salutations to you. May God bless you and your activities.
    I was a student of St.Xavier’s College , Palayamkottai from June 1956 to May 1958 doing Physics B.Sc.
    I will be immensely happy to be in touch with you.

  12. Great human being indeed. Such people are not seen now a days. I salute you sir and would try to emulate you to the extent possible in my remaining life.

  13. Dr.Andithevar on

    A great man ever seen in my life from my own village. Hat’s off Kalyanasundaram iyya.Dr Andithevar, Kalakad now in Chennai

  14. Fr. M. Xavier svd on

    Invisible God appears to weak human beings in a person like Jesus. In the recent times we could see God in the persons like Ramakhrishna paramakamsa, Vallalar, Ramanamagarishi, Mother Theresa, Subhachandra Base, Kamarajar and finally in A P J Abdul Kalaimani. Kalyanasundaram Sir is a living human being in whom God is visibly present. We must become good human beings like him. Thank you sir for the inspiration your life is giving to us. Fr. M. Xavier svd

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