Rags-to-riches story of Tamil Chemmal awardee Amudha Balakrishnan

Amudha Balakrishnan receiving the Tamil Chemmal award from Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami.

In June 1971, a young man hailing from a small village in Tiruchendur landed in Chennai with just Rs 50 in hand. His BSc Maths degree and a trip to Bombay – the dreamland for unemployed youth, failed to secure him a job. Yet undeterred, the 21-year-old, eldest among his seven siblings, started selling vegetables on the pavement to support his family.

Cut to 2019, he is now the founder-chairman of Amudha Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Mugappair East and an eminent Tamil scholar who was awarded the Tamil Chemmal award by the Tamilnadu government in February. His name is Amudha Balakrishnan and this is his story.

“After failing to find work in Bombay, I returned to Chennai and joined as an employee at a popular ‘katta thotti’ near Pachaiyappa’s College. I had Rs 50 in hand and my salary was also Rs 50. I learned the A to Z of business there,” he said speaking to News Today.

His hardwork and willingness to learn separated him from everyone, said Amudha. “I never shied away from work, even menial ones. I used to be the first to arrive, swept the floors and lifted gunny bags even if it was not my job to do so. Other people’s laziness was making me more efficient.”

He worked there for 3 years saving a part of his salary every month and started Amudha Hardwares in 1974 in Anna Nagar. His meteoric rise from a hardware shop owner to founding his own school wouldn’t have been possible without his wife Rajeshwari’s help, he says.

“She was my pillar of strength. She came from an affluent family, yet, put up with me and helped me save money to build my business. I worked for 18 hours a day and we ate boiled rice only once per day with packet pickle. After business picked up, I hired more assistants and Rajeshwari cooked for all of them to cut costs,” he says.

While Amudha slowly built his business, his passion towards learning and former Chief Minister Kamaraj’s influence made him start a school in Mugappair. He says, “I have a policy of not taking any kind of donations. Through the school, I am fulfilling my dream of helping willing learners.”

It was this passion to help others and promote Tamil that won Amudha the Tamil Chemmal award. He is known in the neighbourhood for promoting Tamil scholars, conducting Tamil competitions and rewarding people who accomplish in the Tamil literary field. He is also the vice-president of Anna Nagar Tamil Sangam and the head person of All India Tamil Writers Sangam.

Amudha’s passion for education did not stop with just starting his school. In early 2000s, when he was 50 years old, he continued pursued his education and earned triple MA degrees, an MBA degree and also a PhD. Out of all his degrees, he says that he found MBA to be the easiest.

“I already knew what was mentioned in the textbooks. I had been practically applying these management principles in my profession all these years. I just had to learn the technical names that they were called,” he laughs.
On the message he wants to give youngsters, Amudha, quotes Gandhi, “My life is my message,” and adds, “Observe established people and see what you can learn from them. Don’t be afraid to work hard.”

You can contact Amudha Balakrishnan at 7373779999.

A Harsha Vardhan