Coimbatore: Setting an example of selfless service-cum-low margin business model, 85-year old Kamalathal has been selling idlis, a staple south Indian breakfast delicacy, at rupees one each . Her three decades of noble effort sans modern kitchen gadgets has now received support from the government and industry leaders.
Kamalathal will no longer have to use firewood for cooking and the grinding stone to make the idli batter, her daily routine for the past 30 years, as help is pouring in from various quarters.
Kamalathal, a widow and a resident of Vadivelampalayam on the outskirts of this city, has recently got a cooking gas (LPG) connection and grinder and mixer after her story went viral on social media with Mahindra group chairman Anand Mahindra taking the lead and expressing his willingness to ‘invest’ in her business.
According to sources close to her, Kamalathal sells around 600 idlis every day with ‘sambar’ and ‘chutney’, all of which she prepares alone. However, even though each idli comes at rupees one, she still manages to earn some profit.
She draws regular customers from different walks of life such as students, government employees and others every day morning for the idli, which is well below the market rate ranging from Rs 10 in small time eateries to Rs 50 in high-end restaurants.
Kamalathal’s daily routine is quite gruelling… she has to get up at 4.00am in the morning to prepare the fresh idlis and ‘sambar’ and ‘chutney’ as people start thronging her modest house from 6.00am onwards.
She was initially selling idlis for 25 paise per piece but increased the price to rupees one over the years, due to hike in cost of raw materials like rice, urad dal, coconut and vegetables.
Known popularly as ‘Re. one idli granny’, Kamalathal’s travails went viral on the social media recently following which Coimbatore District Collector K Rajamani met her a few days back and assured all possible help. He also said that he will try and get Kamalathal a house under the PM Awas Yojana.
Anand Mahindra was moved by her story and noted she was still using firewood for cooking and offered to get her an LPG stove. At the intervention of Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Bharat Gas provided Kamalathal a cooking gas connection.
Mahindra later tweeted: “One of those humbling stories that make you wonder if everything you do is even a fraction as impactful as the work of people like Kamalathal. I notice she still uses a wood-burning stove. If anyone knows her I’d be happy to ‘invest’ in her business & buy her an LPG fueled stove.
Later responding to a tweet by Bharat Gas-Coimbatore that it had given a LPG connection to the woman, Mahindra tweeted: “This is superb. Thank you Bharat Gas Coimbatore for giving this gift of health to Kamalathal.”
On his part, Dharmendra Pradhan tweeted: “Salute the spirit and commitment of Kamalathal. Glad to having helped her through local OMC officers in getting LPG connection. Society must empower such hard working people who defy all odds.