P.N. Lashmanan believes in leading by example as he takes part in rescue operations, empowers women and educates the youth

When the news of Uttarakhand’s floods flashed on TV channels, a young entrepreneur from Coimbatore quietly packed his bags and left for the base camp in Dehradun. There, he joined the team led by IAS officers Gagan Singh Bedi and T.S. Sridhar which rescued 399 Tamilians stranded at various points including Gaurikund, Rambara, and Pithoragarh. “I spent 11 days in the rescue operations. Though I lost several lakhs in business, the satisfaction of rescuing lives leaves me totally charged up,” says P.N. Lashmanan. This 34-year-old bachelor switches his time between running his company Right Casting India at Irugur (it manufactures aluminium automobile and textile components) and social service.

The Uttarakhand rescue operation was tough. “I went with the rescue team, identified and communicated with the Tamilians who were stranded and brought them to Dehradun. Our CM J. Jayalalithaa monitored the developments on a daily basis over phone,” he says.

Whenever Lashmanan learns about a natural calamity anywhere in India, he heads there. “I spent two weeks at Bhuj in Gujarat during the earthquake and about a month at Kulachel in Kanyakumari when the Tsunami struck. For the first few days, all I did was remove dead bodies. After five days, we dug out a mother and child who were still alive. It was heartening,” he recalls. He says one has to be fit physically and mentally, and prepared to go without food and water, while participating in rescue operations. “All that survivors need are water, food, medicines and some assurance. Knowing their language is an advantage,” he says.

Lashmanan set up the Sacrifice Friends Club after the 1998 bomb blasts in Coimbatore to bring displaced youth back into the mainstream. His priority is education and employment of youth. He has adopted 12 slums in the city including Ammankulam, near Puliakulam, and Annai Satya Nagar as part of the Urban Slum Adoption Programme. “Most slums have a number of school dropouts. We put the children back in schools and sponsor their education. We have the ‘Magalir Maruvazhvu’ project which rehabilitates widowed mothers in slums. We give sewing machines or help them set up a DTP centre or a Photocopier centre and adopt the education of their children,” he says.

Sacrifice Friends Club ties up with hospitals too and conducts free medical camps regularly at slums, organises eye transplants, and distributes hearing aids, artificial limbs and tricycles to the needy. His ‘Save our Girl Child’ savings deposit scheme introduced in 2011 benefitted 75 girls across Tamil Nadu, including Theni, Cumbum, Salem and Erode. “We introduced this to stop the growing female infanticide. We identify families that have three girl children and make a one-time deposit of Rs.18, 000 for them. When they complete 18 years of age, each one gets about Rs. 2 lakh,” he explains.

His next big project is to bring greenery back on the Avanashi Road stretch (more than 5,000 trees have been cut. We have carried water on push carts and nurtured the plants, he says) and restore water bodies.

Lashmanan and his team work 24x7. “When there is a road accident and we get a call, our volunteers rush to the spot. We donate blood and help with medical expenses. I have donated blood 27 times,” he smiles. “You have to be the change and show the way. Youth should have the drive to work for society. Parents should spend more time with children and inculcate awareness in them. Children should learn a sport too as is makes them fit and disciplined,” says this basketball player. “When you learn a sport, you develop fighting spirit and you never give up.”

To join Lashmanan, call him at 84895-84895.