Not many entrepreneurs may want to emulate the business model that sustained her for 30 years. But 82-year-old M Kamalathal, who had been selling idlis for Re 1 each at Vadivelampalayam in Coimbatore district, felt she lacked nothing. After videos and news reports about the idli paati (idli granny) preparing the dish on a firewood stove went viral, she was flooded with offers of help from across the country.
Sharing a video of Kamalathal cooking at her homecum-shop, chairman of Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra, said he was willing to “invest in her business and buy her an LPG-fuelled stove”. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Coimbatore, told him that it had already issued Kamalathal an LPG connection. Retweeting this, Dharmendra Pradhan, Union minister of petroleum and natural gas, said: “Salute the spirit and commitment of Kamalathal. Glad to having helped her through local OMC officers in getting an LPG connection. Society must empower such hardworking people who defy all odds.” In addition, a private firm from Mumbai gave her a commercial wet grinder to prepare the idli batter.
After all this unfurled on Wednesday, Mahindra on Thursday tweeted that he would be happy to support her LPG costs.
Earlier this week, Coimbatore collector K Rajamani received her at his office and offered to fulfil whatever needs she had. “She had no demands. However, her wellwishers said it would be helpful if the district administration built her a home. She said she has a patta. If she or her children brings the patta, the district administration is ready to build her a home for around 2.5 lakh,” he said. “Now everyone who comes to know about her wants to help her in some way. This is a positive thing,” he added.
When contacted, Kamalathal said she was happy that people were helping her. “For the 30 years that I have been running this idli shop I have been using a firewood stove. Now they have given me a gas stove. I am happy,” she said. Asked how she managed to sell an idli for 1, she said her input costs wer