In 1998, when Arunachalam Muruganantham saw his wife using old rags for sanitary pads, he made a prototype that failed terribly. Thereafter, he used different materials and came up with new models for sanitary pads every month. Since there was a month gap between each prototype tested by his wife, he had no other choice except to ask for a few volunteers from a nearby medical college. Though a few female students agreed to try them, they were shy to give him the right feedback. So Muruganantham decided to test them himself.
It took him two years to find the right material and another four years to come up with a way to process it. The result was an easy-to-use machine for producing low-cost sanitary pads. With the imported machines costing more than $5,00,000, Muruganantham's prototype came at just $950. As a result, women’s groups or schools can buy his machine, produce their own sanitary pads, and sell the surplus. In this way, Muruganantham'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, Muruganantham is one of India’s most well-known social entrepreneurs and TIME magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014.
A Bollywood movie named PadMan has been made out of Muruganantham's story, starring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte, and Sonam Kapoor. The trailer which was released recently gathered more than 20 million views on YouTube. It was Twinkle Khanna, the lead actor's wife, who came up with the idea for this movie.
According to a report by The Quint, Muruganantham, also known as ‘India’s Menstrual Man’, has already been widely documented and reported about by both the Indian and international media. Twinkle herself has based the story ‘The Sanitary Man from a Sacred Land’ in her new book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad on this Padma Shri winner.
Here's one of the TED talks that Muruganatham gave in Bengaluru: