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Cement, calcium carbide, shipping… TSN turned these and more into gold

India Posts released a stamp in honour of T S Narayanaswamy (TSN) on his birth centenary on 11 November. TN Governor K Rosaiah recalled the multifarious contributions of TSN.

FOR TWO DECADES from the mid 1940s, TSN made a rich contribution to the industrial development
of  Tamil Nadu. I remember the Progressive Madras State produced by him for the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce in the mid 1960s as an excellent record of the state of development of Tamil Nadu and also outlining a route map for future.

Those were the years when a new generation of entrepreneurs surfaced in Tamil Nadu with nothing
other than their rich intellectual capital to offer. These enterprising men, strongly supported by the
governments at the Centre and the state with visionary leaders like K Kamaraj, R Venkataraman and C Subramaniam, helped the state emerge strong in economic development.
 
TSN showed his mettle at the Indo Commercial Bank headed by S N N Sankaralinga Iyer of
Tirunelveli. His suavity, energy and rich capability for networking and interaction with policymakers
were great assets. With his mentor, Sankaralinga Iyer, TSN boldly ventured into the manufacture of
cement. They mobilised resources of around Rs 5 crore (a pretty large sum in those days), through widely dispersed shareholders and set up a plant at Tazhaiyuthu in southern Tamil Nadu. Iyer’s son K S Narayanan tied up technology with Denmark and India Cements Ltd (ICL) soon emerged as the largest producer of  cement in the south. 

TSN looked at opportunities in several other directions and worked closely with several other
business leaders of the region to embark on a wide range of enterprises.

In the production and distribution of calcium carbide, he involved V D Swami. Working closely with K S Narayanan, C S Loganatha Mudaliar and J H Tarapore, he setup the first large shipping company in the south, the South India Shipping Corporation Ltd, which acquired six ships. He should have been inspired by Dr Jayanti Dharma Teja in negotiating the purchase with zero down payment! He named these in Tamil as Chennai Ookkam, Chennai Perumai, Chennai Sadanai etc.  With K S Narayanan, he also identified the prospects for manufacture of PVC based on agro chemicals: Chemicals and Plastics India Ltd soon emerged as a pioneer in this area.  

TSN was the public face of Industry. He was actively involved in the successful conduct of World Tamil Conference and the National Games hosted by Tamil Nadu government.

TSN died suddenly in early 1968 at the age of 57. Some two decades later, TSN’s son N Srinivasan took control of ICL. 

With the de-control of cement and the rapidly escalating demand, Srinivasan has vastly expanded ICL through organic growth and acquisitions. As President of the Board of Control for Cricket (BCC) in
India, as the owner of Chennai Super Kings and with his vast contacts with policymakers, he is taking
forward the mission of his illustrious father.
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