The Real Padman of India.

India is a country where tradition is seen as a religion and anything that diverts the path of tradition is a curse in most of the states in the country. People living in the rural areas see everything as a plan of god, whatever happens is a plan of god and no one is supposed to interfere or change what is happening around them. A man from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu saw this this differently.

Arunachalam Muruganantham discovered that his wife carried rags and newspapers during her menstrual cycle as sanitary napkins as most of the sanitary napkins available in the market were too expensive and manufactured by multinational corporations. He saw this as a problem which needed to be solved because those clothes and newspapers were unhygienic and to find a cheaper substitute for a problem like this was difficult. So, he started designing experimental pads.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report 2015-16, the use of sanitary napkins among Indian women is 48.5% in rural areas, 77.5% in urban areas and 57.6% in total. [3]

But these cannot be taken as the accurate statistics as talking about women’s menstrual cycle is still considered a taboo in many regions and most women would not want to talk about it. Arunachalam considers that 90% of women in India doesn’t use sanitary napkins. He did design low cost experimental pads for women but at the start of his invention, no women were ready to try them because they were too shy to discuss their menstrual problems. To everyone’s amaze, he decided to experiment on himself by attaching a bladder with animal blood but became the subject of ridicule and became an expatriate in his own village. After two years of testing he understood that commercial pads used fibers from pine bark wood pulp which helped the pads absorb while retaining the shape.

Since the machine that manufactured commercial were too expensive for him to purchase so he devised his own low-cost machine that could be operated with minimal training and sourced other raw materials from other parts of the country that were required to manufacture low-cost sanitary napkins. His invention changed the lives of his wife and many other women who used to used unhygienic forms of cloth or newspaper or who didn’t use any kind of material and gave them a product that was cheap, hygienic and safer to use.

Arunachalam’s invention is a sign of inspiration for people who think that there is a solution to every problem, and it exists if we look closely to the problem around us. In India, commercial pads exist and are priced 40 times higher than their manufacturing cost, but it doesn’t solve the problems of the people living in the rural areas where to survive, people had to work hard to earn food for their living. By innovating, people can change the way we look at the society and it’s not that someone else is going to come as a savior and give them what people need. Innovation can be done by anyone; we just need to identify the problem that exists in our society.

Join us as an Innovation catalyst at Bots N’ Brains and browse through our problem database to tackle problems like these that can make a change in our ecosystem.


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