A sneeze in time can infect nine! That makes your face mask your lifeline. But how sure are you of its safety and efficacy against the corona virus? Just recently Dr. Aiswarya Rao, a Chennai based public health expert, uploaded a video experiment on facebook to help viewers distinguish a good quality 3 ply disposable surgical mask from a spurious one. A glass of water was poured into one. The water did not seep through. In the other mask, the water percolated immediately. That simple test was a dead giveaway.
Mounting a ‘surgical’ strike against spurious masks in the market, and in one of the finest examples of public service running in the family, the children of former IAS officer of the 1972 batch Late Mr.G.Bhujanga Rao, have started manufacturing 3 ply surgical masks “compliant with ISO: 9001: 2015 industry standards and with South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) certified 99.6% bacterial filtration efficiency.” Teaming up with her entrepreneur brother Albert Rao, an alumnus of Don Bosco, Egmore and Loyola College and a former IAS aspirant himself, Dr.Aiswarya Rao, a qualified pediatrician from Kilpauk Medical College and activist who runs a shelter for women with disability in the city, churn out close to forty thousand masks a day.
For the record, Dr.Aiswarya is disabled herself but that has not deterred her over the years from being independent – driving their own modified car and empowering other women to realise their potential.
Named after their late parents Rose B. Rao, a deeply spiritual home maker and G.Bhujanga Rao, a former humane bureaucrat, as “everything we have is because of them”, Rose & Rao’s Outstanding Surgical Equipments in Anna Nagar is registered with the government of India as a Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME). The duo provide employment to a “15 member diverse and inclusive team”, with women from the shelter tasked with packing the masks in 10s and 50s and also for customised orders.
The attention to detail and the focus on quality is evident from their policy of sourcing the best raw materials for their masks. The fabric is from a big spinning mill in Mettupalayam and the ear loops and wire for the nose pin are from Bengaluru.
Over the last 3 months, the siblings have been primarly selling their ware to medical shops. No order is too small for them as they deliver even packs of 10 and 50 masks to individuals and residents’ welfare associations in gated communities. Albert reveals that “a tie up with Amazon is on the cards.”
In an industry where the profit margin is slim, the recent retail price cap of Rs.4.50 per mask has hit them hard. “This has made pharmacies ask for masks at Rs.3 or even less. This is where companies can tap into their Corporate Social Responsibility Budgets to place bulk orders of high quality products from such ventures that border on altruism. If you’re an individual or an employer, gifting a pack of certified masks to your folks will not burn a hole in your pocket. It will light a flame of hope in these troubled times.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)