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Sundaravel studied in Tamil medium in school but is now a polyglot who knows Japanese and English. He struggled in his first year engineering since all the classes were in English but as the course went on he was able to settle down. Today, Sundaravel is teaching English to school students in Japan. He teaches Japanese to those from India coming to Japan for work through online classes.

A graduate of Anna University, Sundaravel did his MS Hiroshima University and is working at a Japanese firm.

Sundaravel comes from a marginalized community classified as Most Backward Class. His house was located at the foothills of a mountain just outside the village of Kengan Kottai, some 5 km from Dharmapuri,

Father was a farm labourer who would do occasional jobs in house repair. He had never gone to school. Mother Kalaivani had studied up to Class 9.

Sundaravel with his father Murugan and mother Kalaivani.

Sundaravel studied up to Class 5 in the government school in Kengan Kottai and the continued schooling at Solaikottai, some 4 km away. For him and his brother, Manivel studying in the same school, it was a 4km walk up and down every day. Rains would make the walking difficult. There was no power at home and the brothers had to make do with kerosene lamps.

To help students do well in Class 10, the school would conduct special classes after school hours. But Sundaravel had to skip it since he wouldn’t be able to go home if he stayed late. His teachers decided that Sundaravel and another student in a similar situation could stay in the school so they could attend the special classes. The two students stayed in school, while keeping some of the lunch food for dinner. They would go home over the weekends.

Sundaravel’s home was a long walk from school. His teachers decided that Sundaravel and another student in a similar situation could stay in the school so they could attend the special classes conducted after school. The two students stayed in school, while keeping some of the lunch food for dinner. 

Sundaravel’s class teacher Mohan said if he did well, he would buy him textbooks and take care of his school expenses next year.

Sundaravel scored 478 in Class 10 including 100% in Maths. He came first in school. At that time the government announced that it would bear the expenses of 10 Tamil medium students in government schools. Dharmapuri collector Amudha got him the support and Sundaravel studied at Vijay Vidyalaya with the government bearing the expenses.

Sundaravel got a laptop as per a government scheme for Tamil medium students but didn’t know how to boot it. His brother was doing diploma in engineering and he told him how to do it.

In 2010, in his Class 12 exams, Sudaravel scored 1141 out of 1200. His engineering cut-off was 197.5 while his medical cut-off was 193.5. He got engineering admission.

Sundaravel’s father Murugan asked him to pursue civil engineering. But a villager told him that automobile engineering had a lot of job prospects. Sundaravel therefore applied for and got admission in BTech in automobile engineering at MIT Chromepet.

His school Chemistry teacher Akilarani suggested that the family could approach Agaram Foundation for support to study engineering. The foundation took on the expenses of his engineering education.

To help cope with sudden shift in education to English, his hostelmates devoted their time to coach him. This helped especially in his first year.

At college, Sundaravel and his classmates got a chance to participate at the Shell Eco Marathon in 2014 at Manila, Philippines. The mini car they had built could not reach on time however. With help from DLS University in Philippines, they were able to build a mini car in two days. Though the team couldn’t take part in the competition, Shell nevertheless gave the MIT team the Perseverance and Spirit award for their efforts. The trip to and fro Manila cost Rs 70,000 and students had to pay for it from their own pocket. Murugan pawned the family jewels and sent money.

After BTech, Sundaravel got a job in Renault Nissan factory near Chennai. When he visited his alma mater three years later, Sundaravel learned about study opportunities at Hiroshima University. Sundaravel wrote the test and gave an interview. He was selected to study MS in Mechanical Systems Engineering with full scholarship.

He had to learn Japanese in six months, which he did. Sundaravel would speak in Japanese to fellow students from China and Vietnam and honed his skills. After graduating in October, 2019, he joined Daikyo Nishikawa corporation. After a two year stint there, Sundaravel moved to Chiyoda Corporation in Tokyo.

Sundaravel’s goal is to move back home and start an industry there.

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