Jockin Arputham of India was not to the manner born, but neither was he born to extreme poverty, as his work for the past twenty-eight years may tend to suggest. His paternal grandfather was a village magistrate in Tamil Nadu who ownedvast tracts of land, but the family’s fortune dwindled when theold man was killed after having sent a bandit to prison. His widow fled the village with her two young children and ended up in the Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka, thirty-four kilometers from Bangalore. Kolar was owned and managed by the British and, at the time, was one of the largest private gold mines in India.
Not having had the benefit of higher education, Jockin’s father, Chinapan Arputham,had to content himself working as a carpenter in the Kolar Gold Fields. But he rose to become a foreman and was chief engineer by the time he retired. He was also a freedom fighter affiliated with the National Congress Party.Jockin, the second of eight children, was born in Irudaya Puram in the Kolar Gold Fields on September 15, 1946. He was a sickly boy who almost died of smallpox in early childhood. He was raised by his grandmother, who was the real authority in the Arputham household. His mother, Pariporanaman, was a simple woman who did the chores and kept to the background. Both she and her husband were devout Catholics who spent much time in church. Jockin recalls that he prayed often, in church and at home. He started his schooling at the Kolar Gold Fields School, which was run by Indian Catholic priests and nuns who used English as their medium of instruction. His parents wanted Jockin and his brothers to enter the seminary, but the priesthood held no attraction for him.