It was an evening of celebration at the YourStory Disruptors Tamil Nadu award ceremony at Chennai. We invited a galaxy of stars to receive the Disruptors of Tamil Nadu 2018 awards and they, in turn, regaled us with their memories of their past and stories of how they made an impact. Here are the highlights.
YourStory recognised Disruptors from various domains at the YourStory Disruptors Tamil Nadu award ceremony at Crowne Plaza, Chennai on December 12. The Disruptors we selected are all change agents in the fields of manufacturing, journalism, arts, agriculture, entertainment, literature, technology, music, sports, e-commerce, social service, food and beverage, governance, politics and services.
These changemakers from Tamil Nadu told us their success stories and we share with you the highlights here.
Hemalatha Annamalai, founder of Ampere Motors: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 – Manufacturing
For daring to enter the manufacturing domain which was outside her comfort zone and for proving that electric vehicles can be a successful business, YourStory recognised Hemalatha Annamalai as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu in the manufacturing category.
On receiving the award, Hemalatha said that Ampere has sold about 45,000 vehicles and saved 40,000 million gallons of petrol and kept 80 million tons of carbon out of the earth. Talking about her three social goals despite running a for-profit company, she said, “I wanted to create jobs in tier II and tier II cities. I wanted to bring back women into manufacturing. I wanted to decentralise manufacturing to create many more jobs.”
“Ma Foi” Pandia Rajan, Tamil Nadu Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 – Pathmaker in Politics
For his steadfast achievements in both his chosen fields of entrepreneurship and politics, for inspiring others to take to politics, and for achieving phenomenal success in his endeavours and giving back to the society, YourStory recognised Ma Foi Pandia Rajan as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the special category of Path Maker in Politics.
Mrs. Latha Rajan, wife of Ma Foi Pandia Rajan, received the award on behalf of her husband. She said in a lighter vein, “There is disruption in family life and there is disruption in privacy as of now.” She added that Pandia Rajan is working hard to make an impact despite facing a lot of challenges.
Dr. Santhosh Babu, Secretary, Information Technology, Government of Tamil Nadu: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 – Governance
For his stellar initiatives and transformational changes in governance, his spirited attitude as a career bureaucrat, and for creating positive change in administrative functions, YourStory recognised Dr. Santhosh Babu as a Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the governance category.
Dr. Santhosh Babu is a changemaker who thinks different and is responsible for bringing in 150 plus innovations in governance. He has made a noteworthy impact as a bureaucrat, including instituting rural BPOs, paperless office, and introducing e-commerce for government’s arts and crafts sales. Dr. Santhosh Babu's wife Dr. Beena, Assistant Professor at Madras Medical College, received the award on behalf of her husband and thanked YourStory for giving the award in recognition of her husband’s integrity.
C.K. Kumaravel, Co-founder of Naturals: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 -- Entrepreneurship
For making many entrepreneurs out of women, for his determination and vision that made Naturals a world-class brand, and for his perseverance and unflinching spirit even in times of crises, YourStory recognised CK Kumaravel as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the Entrepreneurship Category.
C.K. Kumaravel said it was “gratifying” to be recognised and dedicated the award to his mother who donned the role of both parent after his father, the late Chinni Krishnan, passed away. “Our parents live through us and we live through our children,” he told the audience. He also thanked YourStory for recognising his father for the first time ever with the Legend of Disruption award.
Rangaraj Pandey, former editor-in-chief of Thanthi TV: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 -- Journalism
For redefining debates in Tamil television, for setting the trend of being viewed as the unpopular, yet fearless anchor, and for daring to asking interviewees the uncomfortable questions that matter, YourStory recognised Rangaraj Pandey as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the journalism category.
Accepting the award, Pandey said, “I don’t know what disruption I did, but I wanted to disrupt in my job.” He said he’s now looking for something new and different, after quitting his job at Thanti TV, adding he was bored with interviewing the same set of politicians over and over again.
Vinoth Kumar, Organic farming advocate: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 -- Agriculture
For his immense courage to take to and emerge a staunch advocate of organic farming, and for taking others towards a healthier future, YourStory recognised Vinoth Kumar as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the agriculture category.
Vinoth Kumar, on being conferred the award, said, “I was inspired by ordinary people in life. My vision is to see a healthy society. It gives way to healthy human beings. It also contributes to the economy. If you are healthy, you can achieve whatever you want. I chose organic farming because real organic farmers are suffering.” He called upon the audience to support organic farmers in whatever way they can.
Karthik Kumar, founder of Evam: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 -- Arts
For making stand-up comedy survive the treacherous path of entrepreneurship, for displaying ingenuity and creativity in everything he undertakes and for inspiring many youngsters to believe that nothing is impossible, YourStory recognised Karthik Kumar as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the Arts category.
On receiving the award, Karthik said, “When you actually are disrupting, you don’t know that you are doing it. You are trying to do something different… (But) in that one life you live, you live by doing what you genuinely love.” His speech was also interspersed with his characteristic good humour, and he called MBA a “mysterious degree” because at the end of it you are told you cannot teach management but can only learn it from CEOs.
Gayathri and Pushkar, Film Makers: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 -- Entertainment
For their technical finesse and rigour in filmmaking, for thinking and doing things differently, and for making films that challenge the existing paradigms, YourStory recognised Gayathri and Pushkar as the Disruptors of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the entertainment category.
On receiving the award, Gayathri said, “When you start off, you don’t perceive yourself as the disruptor. We were in college together and we worked together. Our close friends discouraged the idea of couple making a film. But we went ahead and met producers. If you are convinced about what you are doing, no one will laugh at you.” Pushkar cautioned against dumbing down the audience thinking they may not understand certain ways of filmmaking.
Sivasankari, Writer and activist: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 -- Literature
For her prolific writing that changed lives, for putting the spotlight on society’s dark secrets, and for staying human through her endeavours, YourStory recognised Sivasankari as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu in the literature category.
Sivasankari said, “When I completed 25 years as a writer in 1993, I felt I must give something back to the society and people who put me on a pedestal.” During a symposium in Mysore, Sivasankari realised that South India was known only for Kanchipuram saree, idli, masala dosa and nothing else. “What do Indians know about each other?” was a question she found herself asking. As an extension of her thinking, she conceived the idea of knitting India through literature. “I wanted to introduce Indians to Indians… It was not easy at all,” she said, adding it took 16 years to complete this multilinguistic work, which was finally published as a four-volume coffee table book.
Murugavel Janakiraman, founder of Bharat Matrimony: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 – Tech Platform
For helping many men and women find a life partner on the Internet, for building the world’s most trusted matrimonial portal, and for redefining the way matches are made, YourStory recognised Murugavel Janakiraman as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the Tech Platform category.
In his acceptance speech, Murugavel joked that his only regret was that Shradha (Founder of YourStory) got married before Bharat Matrimony was started. “We disrupted matrimony through business model innovation,” he said and listed the community matrimony, 300 plus matrimony services, and elite matrimony as the innovations that Matrimony introduced. He listed five things that come in the way of disruption: regulation, changing market conditions, changing consumer behaviour, technology shifts and startups coming up with different business models.
Santhosh Narayanan, Music Composer and Director: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 -- Music
For bringing a whiff of fresh air into Tamil film music, for creating ripples in the music industry and making gaana (a folk-type song typically composed in prose using slang spoken in North Chennai) cool in Tamil cinema, YourStory recognised Santhosh Narayanan as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the music category.
Accepting the award, Santhosh Narayanan said the projects he did this year opened his eyes to social responsibility. “I had four releases this year. One was Mercury, a silent film by Karthik Subburaj. It spoke about how pollution can affect people. Then Kaala. It spoke of how land is distributed among the population. And I had two more releases. Vada Chennai is a similar plot like Kala. I worked on Pariyerum Perumal, which spoke about equality.”
Arun Vasu, Chairman of TT Group: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 – Sports
For engineering social change through his passion for water sports, for standing rock solid behind a silent social transformation, and for making a real impact in the lives of youth through sports, YourStory recognised Arun Vasu as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the sports category.
In his acceptance speech, Arun thanked the Kovalam boys. He said, “Murthy told me, ‘Water sports has given me direction in life and I wanted to do the same thing to the village’. He wanted to eradicate alcoholism prevalent among youth. For me that one line made it.” That started the Kovalam Surf School, he said. Arun also explained how the Surfing Festival was conceived to popularise surfing. “This year, we had 200 participants and 20,000 people who came to watch,” he added.
Mithun Sancheti, founder of CaratLane.com: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 – Retail
For his disruptive idea of selling jewelry and gems online, for his spirit and determination in making that idea a reality, and for proving that the Internet can be trusted for making high-end purchases, YourStory recognised Mithun Sancheti as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the e-commerce category.
Mithun said “Disruption is a large word for what we are doing. We see ourselves more as facilitators.” He wanted to bring about true disruption in how the retail teams work because they work six and half days a week and bear the brunt of something going wrong. “We have done price disruption in India but we have not seen service disruption. I think the next 10 years belong to service disruption,” he added.
Sriram, founder of Nalandaway: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 – Social service
For using the power of arts to bring about a change in the lives of disadvantaged children and for relentlessly pursuing the mission to empower children to realise their dreams, YourStory recognised Sriram as the Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the Social Sector category.
In his acceptance speech, Sriram spoke passionately about the state of education and the cause of low enrolment numbers in secondary school. “The major cause of this problem is due to lack of joy in the classrooms,” he said, adding that education is today boring, stressful and insensitive to the needs of children. “Fear is the biggest obstacle to learning… putting arts into school is the only way for course correction,” he said, adding, “We need more investments, more compassion, more hands and more will to make education work for our children. We need art and joy in our classrooms.”
“Hot Breads” Mahadevan, Restaurateur: Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 – Food and Beverage
For making food a delight by showing this part of the world what international food is all about, for taking Indian cuisine to Indians around the world, and for thinking big and inspiring others to do the same, YourStory recognised Mahadevan as The Disruptor of Tamil Nadu 2018 in the food and beverages category.
Tarun Mahadevan, son of Mahadevan, accepted the award on behalf of his father. Tarun said that his father wanted him to tell the audience to “Dream Big”. He said that Oriental Cuisines had Saravana Bhavan open up a food truck serving dosas on Wall Street. “Food trucks came from America. We gave them as a taste of their own medicine with an Indian twist,” he said. Tarun said his father was hard working and had enormous determination. “Instead of feeding one family, today we feed 5,000 families spread across 16 countries,” he added pointing to the number of employees in Oriental Cuisine.
(With inputs from Tenzin Pema)