Here is the rags-to-riches story of an extremely talented boy from a small village in Tamil Nadu who has risen to be the chief executive officer of a company in Seattle, USA.
It is also the story of how Kalyana Raman Srinivasan, who was so indigent that he had to study under a streetlight, but then managed to score excellent marks, rose in life and became today’s Kal Raman.
At every turn in his life, he took the difficult path and it turned out to be the right one and in the right direction. His rise to the top is more dramatic than a thriller. Today, he is a very successful entrepreneur and the founder-CEO of GlobalScholar.
Kal Raman was born and brought up in a small village called Mannarakoil in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. It was a comfortable normal middle class life for him and his siblings as his father was a Tahasildar there.
But the sudden death of his father at the age of 45 changed everything overnight.
Kal was 15 then. “My mother got a pension of Rs 420 a month and you can imagine how tough it is to educate four children and feed five mouths with Rs 420?”
His life changed dramatically after his father’s death. The family moved from the rented house to a hut that had no proper water supply or electricity. Kal Raman remembers, “All of us used to study under the streetlight and, thank god, the streetlights used to work those days! MGR (M G Ramachandran) was the chief minister then. We had to sell the plates to buy rice to eat and my mother used to give us rice in our hands. That bad was our situation.”
But his mother, who had studied till the 8th standard, was very particular that her children studied. “All our relatives wanted my elder brother to stop studying and take up the small job offered by the government but my mother wanted him to continue studying.”
"Then they wanted me to learn typewriting and shorthand so that I could get some job after the 10th standard. But mother said, ‘My children are going to get the best education I can offer. Education is our salvation.’ She was my hero for her vision and she still is my hero."
What kept the family going? “We were sad but because we accepted our fate, we were at peace with whatever that happened to us. We knew our father would not come back to lift us up from poverty. We also knew our salvation was a long way away.”
He didn’t know why he used to tell his mother, “One day I will give you so much money that you will not know what to do with it!” Years later, he did exactly that!
First turning point in life
Kal Raman believes that God played a hand in all the major turning points in his life. The first turning point in life was after his 12th standard. He got good marks in both the engineering and medicine entrance exams, and for engineering, he got admission at the Anna University in Chennai while for medicine, it was in the Tirunelveli Medical College.
"While going in the bus with my mother to join the medical college, I told her, "If I join for medicine here, the high probability is that my life may begin and end in Tirunelveli. I really want to see the world.’ She agreed with my decision to go to Chennai and join Anna University and study Electrical Engineering and Electronics."
So, he stepped into a new world outside Tirunelveli, and that was Chennai. Though he had got merit scholarship and a lot of good people helped him pay the initial fee, the scholarship amount never used to reach him regularly or on time.
"The mess fee was Rs 250 a month and I used to be a defaulter in the mess at least six months in a year. Till you pay the mess fee, you cannot eat in the mess. So, I used to live on day scholars’ lunch boxes and also use to fast. That is when I learnt to fast ! I must say a lot of friends helped me with money and food."
Scarcity of money was so bad that he had no money to buy food just before the final semester exams. When he gave his final semester exams, he had not eaten for a day-and-a-half. “After finishing the exam, I almost fainted.”
The day after the exams came all the scholarship money that was due and it was around Rs 5,000. “So, I went home a rich man and that helped us repay some loans.”
Like opting for Chennai and joining Anna University instead of a college in Tirunelveli, Kal Raman took another risk with his first job also. His first job was with Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE), and he had a choice of joining either Chennai or Mumbai.
Although he knew nobody in Mumbai, he chose the capital of Maharashtra.
He remembered the first day. “It was interesting. With bag and baggage, I went to the TCE office after taking a shower at the railway station as I had no money to go to any hotel. After the first introduction at the office, the manager noticed that I was wearing slippers to the office. He called me and said, “I don’t care which college you are coming from but this is not acceptable. You should come in shoes tomorrow.”
I said I couldn’t come in shoes the next day and this the manager construed as arrogance. “How could you talk like this?” he asked me. I said, “Sir, it is not that I don’t want to, but I can’t afford to buy shoes. Only after I get my first pay cheque, can I buy shoes. Sir, I request you not to terminate my job because of this. I and my family need this job.”
Shocked to hear the explanation, the manager asked, “Where are you staying?” and the reply was, “Dadar Railway Station.”
So distressed was the manager to hear Kal speak that he immediately released a month’s salary in advance and also arranged for him to be at his friend’s place till he could find a place to stay.
"He bought me a pair of shoes and those were my first shoes. The next day, I sent Rs 1,500 from the advance to my mother."
From electrical engineering to programming
Kal’s rise in career was meteoric in a short span of time. Within a month, he got a chance to move to Bengaluru (then Bangalore) and also to programming.
Soon, he was in Chennai with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Within a few months, he was sent to Edinburgh, UK.
From Edinburgh, his next stop was the United States. In 1992, he went to the US as an entry level contractor with Wal-Mart. In two years, he was a director running a division.
When he left Wal-Mart after six years, he was a man running the information systems for the International Division of the retail giant.
In 1998, he joined drugstore.com Online Pharmacy as the chief information officer and in 2001 at the age of 30, he was the CEO of the company.
He was at the right place at the right time. “God was there at every step guiding me to take the right decisions. I was also willing to take risks and tread new paths,” Kal says.
Philanthropist Mike Milken who had donated more than a billion dollars to education, wanted to use technology so that high quality education was accessible to ordinary people.
Milken convinced Kal to join him. That was the time Kal was building schools in his village for poor students.
In October 2007, GlobalScholar was launched targetting both teachers and students by acquiring four companies — National Scholar (USA), Classof1 (India), Excelsior (USA), and Ex-Logica (USA) — that were into education.
"Three months after the launch, I travelled all over the US, India, Singapore and China talking to teachers and companies and the public. I found that the only way to impact education was by impressing teachers. The biggest scarcity in the world is good teachers. We decided to help teachers with teaching practices and kids, learning practices."
Kal Raman decided to concentrate on the US market as the US is more advanced in using technology. “They are also willing to pay money for technology. At present, schools buy the material which can be used by teachers, students and parents.”
Today, they have 200 people working for GlobalScholar in Chennai and 150 in the US. The study material is prepared in the Chennai office.
The company that was started with $50 million will have in excess of $32 million and will generate $5 million of profits. In 2008, the turnover of the company was Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million) and in 2009, it was Rs 80 crore (Rs 800 million). In the current year it will be 150-160 crore (Rs 1.5-1.6 billion).
"GlobalScholar is growing at 200 per cent every year. We have 1,000 schools and 10 million students, which is one out of 10 kids in the US, using our study material. This is almost 18 per cent of the US population. We are the fastest growing education company in the US."
GlobalScholar will soon introduce a pilot project in India and China. In the course of all this, Kalyana Raman became Kal Raman. “The country gave me everything and took half my name.”
Giving back to society
Kal Raman is in India now for the Kumbhabhishekam of the temple at his village Mannarkoil. “It is taking place after 500 years. It is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of work. I have spent more than one and a half crore rupees (Rs 15 million) to renovate the temple and do the Kumbhabhishekam. More than anything else, I have given jobs to all my friends in the village who are masons and carpenters.”
Other than this, he has also adopted all the orphanages around his village and he takes care of around 2,000 kids, some of whom are physically handicapped.
"I feel if I can educate these children, eventually we can make a difference in the society. We also help 100 children in their higher education. Around my village, everyone knows that if a kid who studies well cannot afford to pay fees, he has to only come to my house; his education will be taken care of."
"I do not do this as charity; its my responsibility. I am giving something back to the society that fed me, taught me, and took care of me and gave me hopes. "
PS- Better to light a candle than curse the darkness
As he never cursed his fate when he got poverty, early stage father’s death nor his mother’s hard work to complete his studies.
In recent days, Electrical energy consumption is major concern fro growing world. Many energy resources are on a try, being utilized and continued to invention more and more.
Here, there is a question that Renewable Energy Sources : Cheaper or Costlier ???
As we know, fossil fuel sources are on limited basis. Meanwhile, the increasing demands of energy consumption can not be meet up by only fossil fuel sources.
That day will come very soon when each domestic/industrial energy utilizer ought to adapt renewable energy resources to meet up the increasing demands.
Solar energy,wind energy and other renewable energy sources are totally free and are in ample amount. But making them utilizable is costing too much i.e. solar panels,wind turbines. Possibly there could be that their lower efficiency in obstruction in adaption. But the today’s technologies making them more efficient and cost-effective.
If we don’t accept them for base demands, at least we can meet up peak demands. If we look at the government policies for adapting them, many great incentives are being provided. Inspite of given incentives making these renewable energy projects costlier to cheaper, why people are not accepting them on a day-to-day basis?
And this question was answered by SC Bhargava (L&T,Executive Vice President,Electrical Sector) at ELECRAMA2012. Th answer was “Fossil fuels are not so cheap as we think. It takes million years in production of fossil fuels and government are subsidizing them. So,in an actual manner, they are more costlier than we think of them (not environment conservative,limited too).”
So,it might be concluded that renewable energy sources are CHEAPER, unlimited, environment friendly, and many other pros.
PS- Adapting them forcefully(might be by government laws and policies) in future is not as good as start to adapting them now.
Nikola Tesla : True inventor but THE MAN OUT OF TIME. Yes, He was…because he could not get the credit for his great inventions. The more cases proving this thing right is shared below in image. (I wasn’t knowing that much about his discoveries covered by many other scientists. All i was knowing about Tesla versus Edison)
#RESPECT for him
To see the full image, click on it.
It’s not just that solar energy is a competitor to big oil, coal, and gas – it’s that solar cuts into big oil’s biggest profit center.
In arguing against solar, they’re always happy to tell you, “The sun doesn’t shine at night, heh heh heh.”
But nighttime isn’t when extra power is needed. People are asleep, office buildings are closed, factories are silent.
Peak power usage happens during the day – which just so happens to be the time when the sun is shining.
This doesn’t impact the average consumer directly – most homes are on a single-price plan for their electric power (although part of the push for smart meters is to use price incentives to get folks to spread out their power usage by, for instance, washing their clothes and dishes at night when there’s less demand).
But factories and industrial users DO pay different rates for their peak and off-peak power usage. They pay a LOT more for power at noon than they do at midnight. In fact, peak power surcharges are a huge profit center for the As RenewEconomy points out (via Meteor Blades at Kos), in Germany, where solar has been growing rapidly,”Solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators… it is in fact eating their entire cake.”
They then trot out two graphs (from the website Renewables International) that show this vividly (click on the graphs for a larger view):
“The first graph, from 2008, shows peaking power prices rising to around €60/MWh and staying there for most of the day…
“The second graph shows a brief leap to €65/MWh around 9am, before the impact of solar PV takes hold – erasing the midday peak entirely and leaving only a smaller one in the evening. The huge bite out of day-prices is also a bite out of fossil fuel generators’ earnings and profits. Note that the average peak price in the second graph is barely higher than the baseload price.”
RenewEconomy added that a Deutschebank report estimated solar was slashing peak electricity prices by 40 percent! No wonder the fossil fuelindustry has, in their words, “Declared war on solar”, and is trying to prevent any further subsidies to encourage solar’s growth.
Oh… and of course, the allies of fossil fuel will also argue “OMG! You don’t want solar power, because SOLAR COSTS MORE!”
What do you do when you’re in the desert and in dire need of drinking water? According to Eole Water, it’s wind turbines that could be the secret to creating water with dry desert air.
The French-based technology company is working in the United Arab Emirates to test a wind turbine that can produce hundreds of liters of drinking water every day from dry desert air. Tests began in October on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and so far, the turbines have managed to produce 500 to 800 liters of water a day. The company is hoping to soon reach 1,000 liters a day.
So how does this work anyway? Intake vents around the nose cone of the turbine allow wind to enter, which is then heated by a generator and turned into steam. The steam is compressed, allowing moisture to collect, which is then condensed and the water is sent through pipes into stainless steel tanks for purification and filtration.
The turbine generates 30 kilowatts of electricity which delivers the water to the storage tanks and then powers the purification and filtration system. Winds at 15 miles an hour or more are needed in order to produce water.
Eole Water was founded in 2008, but the concept of producing water without access to a network has been around for more than 20 years. Mark Parent, the founder of Eole Water, was living on Saint Barthelemy Island when he first came up with the idea. He had no access to a water network, so he collected condensation from his air conditioning unit and paired the process with a wind energy system.
Nowadays, people are so connected with TIMELINE word as it comes in a easy way on most famous social networking site “FACEBOOK”.
But this is the blog only about electrical and electronics stuff, so here i put the timeline of electric and electronic engineering as an Introductory Note.
- 1783 - French physicist Charles-Augustin de Coulomb formulated Columb’s law
- 1800 - Italian physicist Alessandro Volta invented battery
- 1820 - Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted accidentally discovered that the change in electric field creates magnetic field
- 1820 - One week after Ørsted’s discovery, French physicist André-Marie Ampère published his law. He also proposed right hand screw rule
- 1825 - English physicist William Sturgeon developed the first electromagnet
- 1827 - German physicist Georg Ohm introduced the concept of electrical Resistance
- 1831 - English physicist Michael Faraday published the law of induction (Joseph Henry developed the same law independently)
- 1831 - American scientist Joseph Henry in United States developed a prototype DC motor
- 1832 - Frech instrument maker Hippolyte Pixii in France developed a prototype DC generator
- 1836 - Irish priest (and later scientist) Nicholas Callan invented transformer in Ireland
- 1844 - American inventor Samuel Morse developed telegraphy and the Morse code
- 1850 - Belgian engineer Floris Nollet invented (and patented) a practical AC generator
- 1856 - Belgian engineer Charles Bourseul proposed telephony
- 1856 - First electrically powered light house in England
- 1873 - Belgian engineer Zenobe Gramme who developed DC generator accidentally discovered that a DC generator also works as a DC motor during an exhibit in Vienna.
- 1876 - Russian engineer Pavel Yablochkov invented electric carbon arc lamp
- 1876 - Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell invented telephone
- 1877 - First street lighting in Paris France
- 1877 - American inventor Thomas Alva Edison invented phonograph
- 1878 - First hydroelectric plant in Cragside, England
- 1878 - English engineer Joseph Swan invented Incandescent light bulb
- 1879 - Thomas Alva Edison introduced a long lasting filament for the incandescent lamb.
- 1882 - First thermal power stations in London and New York
- 1888 - German physicist Heinrich Hertz proved the that electro magnetic waves travel over some distance. (First indication of radio communication)
- 1888 - Croatian American engineer Nicola Tesla invented AC motor
- 1890 - Thomas Alva Edison invented fuse
- 1894 - Russian physicist Alexander Stepanovich Popov developed a prototype of a radio receiver
- 1896 - First successful intercontinental telegram
- 1897 - German inventor Karl Ferdinand Braun invented cathode ray oscilloscope (CRO)
- 1900 - Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi succeeded in first radio broadcast
- 1901 - First transatlantic radio broadcast by Guglielmo Marconi
- 1904 - English engineer John Ambrose Fleming invented diode
- 1906 - American inventor Lee de Forest invented triode
- 1912 - American engineer Edwin Howard Armstrong developed Electronic oscillator
- 1919 - Edwin Howard Armstrong developed standard AM radio receiver
- 1928 - First experimental Television broadcast in the US.
- 1929 - First public TV broadcast in Germany
- 1931 - First wind energy plant in the Soviet Union
- 1938 - Russian American engineer Vladimir K. Zworykin developed Iconoscope
- 1939 - Edwin Howard Armstrong developed FM radio receiver
- 1939 - Russell and Sigurd Varian developed the first Klystron tube in the US.
- 1941 - German engineer Konrad Zuse developed the first programmable computer in Berlin
- 1944 - English engineer John Logie Baird developed the first color picture tube
- 1947 - American engineers John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain together with their group leader William Shockley invented transistor.
- 1950 - French physicist Alfred Kastler invented MASER
- 1951 - First nuclear power plant plant in the US
- 1953 - First fully transistorized computer in the US
- 1958 - American engineer Jack Kilby invented the ıntegrated circuit (IC)
- 1960 - Theodore Harold Maiman invented the LASER
- 1962 - Nick Holonyak Jr. invented the LED
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