He was born to landless farmers in the obscure village of Appannaickenpatti Padur in Tamil Nadu. While his father was unemployed, his mother was the sole breadwinner who reared two buffaloes. The milk from those buffaloes fed her five children and ran the household for the next 20 years.
When they were struggling for a square meal a day, Dr A Velumani remembers why he looked forward to school each day. To eat the midday meal they served. Little did he know, it would spark a love for education in him.
“My mother taught us how to live without borrowing, frugally and with dignity,” he says in an interview with The Better India.“My parents could hardly afford buying me a pair of shoes let alone a pair of new trousers. If you were to look at the economy as a pyramid and slash it into ten slices. I was born at the bottom of it. Today, I am at the top of it,” he says.
At a time education seemed a far cry for the many underprivileged kids around him, Velumani never let his unstable financial background decide the way his life would pan out.
A self-made man, he fought against all odds to complete his BSc from the erstwhile Madras University.
However, just when he thought education would be his ladder out of poverty, he realised nobody wanted to give him a job.
He struggled for four years in Coimbatore until unemployment pushed him to work as a chemist in a small capsule-manufacturing company for a meagre salary of Rs 150 per month.
The most significant turning point in Dr Velumani’s life was when he decided to quit his job in BARC, after working there for 14 long years. It was a major shock to his wife who then worked at a good position at a renowned bank.
“She was so upset that I did not consult her before I decided to put down my papers that she decided to quit with me. But I knew that in life, you can either discuss or decide, you cannot do both. So, I quit my job thinking she was relatively at a financially secure position. But life had different plans in store for us. We quit our jobs the same day.”.......