Humble man but a great soul, Venkatraman stands tall for his selflessness
P C Vinoj Kumar
28 Nov 2014
The sky is overcast, a cold wind is blowing, and the met department says a cyclone is expected to cross in a few hours. Nature at its awesome best; not bound by season, cruising freely, now moving, now staying still, setting its own time table, and keeping everyone guessing!
Nothing inspires likes nature. Human beings rarely do. But men like V Venkatraman are an exception. These are the ‘unsung heroes,’ the kind of people who would be moved by the sufferings and hardships of others, and then figure out ways to help them.
A great soul: V Venkatraman, The Weekend Leader 2011 Person of the Year
Venkatraman is The Weekend Leader’s Man of the Moment, our ‘Person of the Year’. By now our readers would have realised that we in The Weekend Leader have a soft corner for the underdog, and that we have great admiration for small people who do extraordinary things.
That’s why most of our lead stories are about people who are hardly noticed by the other media. There are few things the media gets attracted to easily. A good command over spoken English, trendy clothes, a fair skin, and a Facebook or Twitter presence may prove good enough to attract the others. However, those we admire and write about in The Weekend Leader may have none of these attributes.
Venkatraman, for example, lives in Erode, a town that lies about 400 km south west of Chennai. He has been running a small eatery in the town since last eight years.
He is not a wealthy man and has no other business. Like most of us, he has a family to look after. His wife is a yoga teacher and both his daughters are in college. He has little savings.
One would expect a man like him to constantly think of ways to develop his business and make more money. That’s what ‘normal’ people would have done anyway.
But 49-year-old Venkatraman is a different kind of person. He has no such worries. His only concern is to see how he could continue with the Lunch @ Re 1 scheme at his hotel.
For over four years, Venkatraman has been giving lunch every day for about thirty persons at his hotel for just Re 1. The beneficiaries are mostly attendants of poor in-patients from the nearby Government General Hospital, who pay just Re 1 for a meal that is priced at Rs 40 for other customers.
Venkatraman may have served at least 40,000 Re 1 meals till date. The prices of food grains, oil, spices and vegetables have gone up many times in the last four years, but the one rupee lunch has remained unaffected.
Venkatraman ensures that the poor get the same meal that his other customers get for Rs 40
“For other customers, the price has been revised. Four years ago, the cost of a lunch at our hotel was Rs 25; now it is Rs 40,” says Venkatraman, who also gives a 20 percent discount for the disabled.
Though he is facing financial difficulties, Venkatraman receives solace from the ‘divine blessings’.
“I have the full support of my family in whatever I am doing. My second daughter scored 1085 marks (out of 1200) in her Plus 2 exam. We were unable to admit her in engineering college because we could not afford the fees. But thanks to a person in Ramakrishna Math, she got a seat in a reputed engineering college in Chennai. The management has also given her a fee waiver.
“I have reasons to believe that such good things have happened in my life because of the small acts of service to the poor I have been doing. It gives me great satisfaction,” says Venkatraman.
May the likes of Venkatraman increase in this land.
The Weekend Leader team wishes Venkatraman, his family members and all our readers a Happy New Year!
A humble Gujarati farmer’s innovation, Chetak, has revolutionised cotton industry, cutting down the cost of cotton stripping 20 times. Kavita Kanan Chandra meets the barefoot inventor, Mansukhbhai Patel, who is now a successful businessman
Learning that his mother’s swollen legs were caused by mosquitoes, Ignatius Orwin Noronha always wanted to exterminate the blood sucker. Now, he has developed MozziQuit, which promises to make India mosquito free by 2019, says Partho Burman
From a school teacher in Gurgaon to a benefactor supporting 38,000 students in Ladakh, Sujata Sahu has trekked great heights. Partho Burman tells us about her 17,000ft Foundation that engages volunteer-tourists to help students in the hills
After losing her husband in an armed conflict in Kashmir, Subhashini Vasanth embarked on a mission to help war widows. A journey with twists and turns has now enabled her to make a difference in the lives of many women, says Tisha Srivastav
‘Pazhamudir Nilayam’, a small venture in 1950s by two brothers in Coimbatore, has grown into a multi-city vegetable and fruit business. Next, the company plans to take orders over phone and internet for home delivery, says P C Vinoj Kumar
When technologists with social conscience innovate, society benefits by getting amazing products that change the life of common people. Bhanu Priya Vyas writes about four innovations showcased at the recent India Social Good Summit in Delhi
A school teacher, who believes she is a mother to her students, G Sripriya, affectionately called by her students as ‘Priya Amma’ runs 29 tuition centres for underprivileged children through her team of volunteers, says P C Vinoj Kumar
Where millions suffer from eye disorders, a young ophthalmologist has set up a clinic to bring eye care within the reach of the poor and the rural population. Akash Bisht spoke to Parveez Ubed, who started ERC Eye Care 3 years ago in Assam
One reason carbonated soft drinks score over tender coconut is the packaging. A new machine innovated by Vinod Mahadeviah, which breaks and instantly cools tender coconuts, may make the natural drink more popular, feels Kavita Kanan Chandra
The denial of visa shattered his dream to study in the land of milk and honey. But Bhasker Reddy managed to squeeze honey out of milk in India by starting a dairy business in Hyderabad. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the first generation entrepreneur