Friday, 20 July 2012

Inspiring Personalities - Techie Brothers – Mr.Kumar Srinivasan, GM-VP Amazon Bangalore & Mr.Kalyan Ram (Kal Ram), CEO of Global Scholar

Inspiring Personalities:

For the past few days, I have been posting/sharing mostly about those Inspiring Personalities who have succeeded without or with less education.Today I gonna share about the Two Techie Brothers born in Mannarkovil (Tirunelveli Dt) who came from the poor background and has stepped onto greater heights because of their education and hard work. They are Mr.Kumar Srinivasan, GM-VP Amazon Bangalore & Mr.Kalyan Ram (Kal Ram), CEO of Global Scholar.

Lets go !!!

From the humble environs of the village in which they were born to the sophisticated corporate world, successfully breaking the shackles of poverty that ruined the mirth of their boyhood, the two brothers – Kumar Srinivasan as the General Manager, Vice President of Technology and Head of Amazon Bangalore Center and Kalyan Raman as the CEO of Global Scholar – today reign the corporate world. The Cost of Being Poor
On Diwali morning in 1987 Kumar Srinivasan woke up just as he did every day. His biggest Diwali gift was waiting for him. “My brother gave me 10 and he was budgeting this for the last 3 months,” recalls Kumar.
With no breakfast, he used to walk 10-12 kms everyday to go to school. Luckily for him, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M.G. Ramachandran had introduced Midday Meal Scheme for school children in the state. “That’s why my mom always voted for MGR’s party,” quips Kumar. While he looked forward to the much-needed meal-sambar bath with a few pieces of carrot and tomato, Kumar would stay back after all students had left to wash the vessels. This would earn him an extra plate of meal, which he promptly packed and brought home. Sometime he would give it to his younger brother in whose school the scheme was yet to be introduced, and sometimes the morsel of food would be lunch for his sister next day. His childhood memories still bear the imprints of a household bonded by the pressures of poverty.
Kumar’s family lived in such abject poverty that they reached a point when they had nothing left in the house that could be sold to meet the next day’s expenses. It was then that his mother decided to sell the only ceiling fan left in the house. Selling the fan would buy them food for another one full week. “The situation was so miserable that I remember my mother selling our stainless steel plates, in which we would eat, for 50 paise,” narrates Kumar.
“I still remember passing down the clothes to my younger brothers. The trousers that the youngest one used to wear to go to school had more white patches on it than its original blue color because of the stitches,” nostalgically says Kumar’s elder brother Kalyan Raman (Kal). His energy and passion are very obvious in his words. And it is this energy and passion that were a common trait amongst all the siblings. He says, “We never felt we were poor. Even though we weren’t all that happy, we were peaceful because we always lived on hope. The beauty of hope is that when you have nothing else left to lean upon, you get used to be peaceful. You wait for miracles to happen. Waiting for miracles helps remain hopeful,” says Kal.
Their mother made a bold call early on saying, “I want every kid to be educated to the best of their abilities. Nobody is going to discontinue education and take a job for a short term gain. If we have to suffer for a few years, so be it.” Many of their relatives thought otherwise. They saw no need for all the kids to go to school. Her stubbornness to send children to school only meant that relatives would stop helping. It didn’t matter much to her.
Later on in life, Kal steps into Anna University. Best students from elite schools across the state used to come there to study, and here was a kid from the village trying to compete with them. “It was not daunting, but it was exciting to me,” says Kal. However, it was not a happy sign to see his classmates coming to college on bicycles, bikes, or cars. Some were wearing double bull shirts and the latest branded jeans or shoes out in the market. Kal couldn’t get the money to buy or do whatever he wanted. “I struggled,” he notes.
While he was in Anna University, like other hostel students, he would need money for his basic expenses. A postman would come to the hostel block during lunch break, sit in a prominent place and read out names of students who had received money orders from their parents. “Senthil…Rs 500; Arasu…Rs 200; Chandra…Rs 1,000; Selvam; and so on.” The students would walk up, collect the money, and tip the postman with Rs 5 or 10, as they pleased. The postman would never ever call out ‘Kalyan Raman’. After the roll call, as the happy students dispersed, the postman would silently walk up to Kal and handover the 2.50 money order his mother would have sent with love. “Receiving such a meager amount would look bad for an engineering student. The postman was so thoughtful that he would not call my name as it would hurt my self respect. Even if I offered 25 paise as a friendly tip he would not accept it,” recalls Kal. The thoughtful postman would only pat on his back and say, “Kalyan, study well.” But the money order his mother sent him reminded Kal of a number of things and kindled his spirits, and perhaps was one of the main reasons behind what Kal has achieved today. With almost zero money, Kal became the biggest defaulter for not paying the mess fees.
 The cook in the kitchen had learnt about Kal’s poor condition. He would say, “I know I am not supposed to give you food but come after everyone is done with.” There were several days when Kal had no food to eat. He would be eagerly waiting to grab food when day scholars at college offered him a portion of the food that they had brought from home. “It was a survival game,” says Kal.
Kal is today the CEO of, which offers an online tutoring platform, where parents and students can safely connect with trusted educators who provide one-on-one tutoring, homework help, or self-paced learning.

Kumar Follows Kal :

Meanwhile Kumar completed his B.Sc. in Physics, and on his brother’s advice he landed in Chennai and joined SSI for Diploma in Computers. He then went to the U.S. to join his brother. He is currently is the General Manager and Vice President responsible for a business unit, while being the head of the India center. However, Kumar doesn’t agree to the fact that he has achieved a lot in a short span of 10 years of his professional life. “Go, look at the Facebook CEO, he is just 23. I am 13 years behind already. Everyday I think I am very much behind and need to catch up with the rest of the world,” he says. In Kumar’s spirit and daring attitude to perform you cannot fail to see a mirror image of Kal.
Kal remarks, as he narrates couplets in Tamil: Kodithu Kodithy Varumai Kodithu Athaninum Kodithu Illamayil Varumai. It says: Poverty is very cruel; more cruel is the poverty in youth. “Poverty and richness can either be a catalyst or could be a burden to get better. It all depends on the mindset. It has everything to do with the fire in the belly or having the wings of fire. There are examples of people getting repressed and depressed by poverty and unable to get anywhere. Willing to do whatever it takes and wanting to prove a point, wanting to make a difference, wanting to be known for something that’s what differentiates. Poverty just pushes the goals farther and makes the struggle to achieve interesting, from the view point of others. It creates its own challenges. I don’t think, it either hurts or helps if the person doesn’t have that fire within him.”
When Kal’s dad passed away, he used to tell his mother, “Don’t worry mother. Some day we (children) will make so much of money that you wouldn’t even know what to do with.” She did believe in his words. “Neither of us had any clue as to how it will come to pass,” quips Kal. And he definitely kept his promise.

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