P Narayanan Krishnan

While many 'newsmakers' are catapulted to almost celebrity status overnight for doing hardly anything of acclaim, many others languish in the shadows despite living for others and helping change the lives of the underprivileged. Many of them remain mere footnotes to history, their extraordinary work almost snuffed out before the gale force of petty sensationalism that the world seems to find more 'interesting'. So here is an attempt to honour those who have done some extraordinary and selfless work in the society, bringing joy to hundreds of lives. This is a salute to the unsung heroes of 2012.

'Helping the helpless' is the motto of Akshaya Trust, an NGO started by Madurai-based Narayanan Krishnan. Established in 2002, the trust has been a godsend for thousands of abandoned, ailing and hungry people.

Krishnan was getting set for a career at a 5-star hotel in Switzerland when a chance visit to his hometown Madurai changed his course of action. The Akshaya Trust website says Krishnan saw a hungry man lying on the street. "This man was starving and filthy. Narayanan reached out to this old man who placed his frail, wrinkled dirty hand upon his. This was a defining moment," it says.

In the first year of its inception, Krishnan used his own savings to feed around 30 people. Since then, he's cooked and served meals to close to two million people. Currently, a shelter home is being built to house those in dire need of a roof over their head.

Sensing that there were many Indians living abroad who wanted to contribute to their cause, Krishnan founded Akshaya USA in 2012. The foundation lends support to everyone who needs a helping hand - from the homeless, mentally ill, elderly to the disabled.

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