Meet Delhi’s Pad Man whose mission is a ₹1 sanitary pad
Delhi-based brand consultant Anish Sharma’s initiative, Mission Shakti, aims to provide recycled, low-cost, biodegradable sanitary pads to women.delhi Updated: Jul 11, 2018 18:42 IST
Conversations around Akshay Kumar-starrer Pad Man (2018), discussions with a friend, and the debate on GST on sanitary pads led to a moment of epiphany for Delhi-based brand consultant Anish Sharma, whose efforts towards improving menstrual health and hygiene could well earn him the tag of Delhi’s Pad Man.
After working in the corporate world for 10 years — Anish was employed with HT till last year — when he left his job to live a life of purpose for his initiative, Mission Shakti. He has created a prototype of a recycled, low-cost, biodegradable sanitary pad. His efforts bore fruit when, on World Menstruation Day (May 28), he was awarded at NIINE Movement for menstrual health and hygiene awareness by actor Akshay Kumar.
Talking about the humble beginning of the initiative, Anish, 32, says, “I was shocked to know that even after 70 years of independence, 25 crore women in India have never used a pad. This inspired me to find an innovative and affordable solution. An idea to use recycled cigarette butts to make sanitary pads struck me. I started collecting butts and working on the prototype.”
But the use of cigarette butts raised questions about hygiene. “I then worked to create a pad with top layer of sugarcane (it is 70% cellulose and 30% lignin) and bottom layer of cigarette butts, but my friends were still unsure about the cigarette butt layer.”
With challenges such as removing cigarette butts, keeping the pad cost less than one rupee and having the quality at par against branded pads, the process had umpteen challenges, but Ayurveda came to the rescue. “I experimented with isabgol (Psyllium husk) and sabudana (Sago), which didn’t work well. Gond katira (tragacanth gum), too, came to my mind. Its powder worked really well, but when used too much, it increases the pad’s cost, so I mixed it with Multani mitti (fuller’s earth) to increase the absorption capacity of the pad,” says the Delhi University graduate.
He has begun execution of the plan (which will create jobs for many), and applied for a patent for 100% Indian, natural, biodegradable and world’s cheapest sanitary pad — ₹1 per pad. “The pads (approved by sanitary pads testing lab for functionality) will be provided to the government at a price of six rupees for a pack of five,” says Anish, who visions India as becoming the first country to have 100% menstrual health and hygiene by 2022.
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First Published: Jul 10, 2018 13:21 IST