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The life story of Palam Kalyanasundaram is an incredible saga. Not to worry; it’s the credible-sounding ones from VIPs and celebrities  that turn out to be lies.

Kalyanasundaram started paying the school fees of a few children from his village, not for charity he says – but because he needed company for the ten-kilometre walk to school and back. Then the habit stuck. When he got the job of a librarian, he put away his salary for giving to the poor. I suppose he was not all that well to do, one report says that on retirement he served at tables in a restaurant to make own ends meet.

His job won him many accolades. He was adjudged the best librarian in India (one and only recognition from the Government of India);  the possibly dubious claim that United Nations named him One of the Most Outstanding People of the 20th century has not come up with any evidence.. An American organization awarded him money amounting to RS. 30  crores, which he promptly donated to charity.Whether he qualifies to the title of The Man of the Millennium as awarded by Rotary Club of India I cannot say, but his Lifetime Achievement Award sits well on him.

I guess that Kalyanasundaram’s extraordinary magnanimity must have been known to the Government  – Central as well as Tamil Nadu – for at least 45 years. His fame reached the shores of North America, but apparently not Rashtrapati Bhavan nor the South Block. The poor guy cannot and has no time for lobbying in Parliament canteen and probably no inclination to touch Amma’s feet. I suppose The Best Librarian Award is considered good enough by those in authority.

Perhaps not carrying a burden of Padma-Something or Bharat-Something award actually goes to the honour of Librarian Kalyanasundaram. Why bracket him with film actors who simply mouth other people’s scripts, lip-sync songs in mismatched voices  and let some poor guys do their dangerous stunts? Why, indeed, with politicians whose foul deeds are whispered in the corridors of North and South Blocks and cricketers who hold nearly as many records for ducks as for centuries?




  1. Not all actors can be sidelined. Rajnikanth has not only acknowledged this great man’s work, but has also adopted him as his father and is been supporting him in his charity work.


    1. Rajnikant is a rare phenomenon – Aayirattil Oruvan. However, his ‘supporting the man in his charity work’ with a minuscule fraction of his fortune is not the same as Kalyanasundaram’s gesture of giving away all his income on charity and then earning a living by waiting at tables. The man is unique – one of a kind in the whole world.

      Thanks, Harish, keep commenting. It’s nice to know that someone reads and then thinks about it.


  2. thats enough what do u want that government must give him bharat ratana .He doesnt deserve bharat ratna at all .He has done only charity .Charity can be done by any one


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