In the 1960s V Krishnamurthy (VK) headed the high pressure boiler plant of BHEL at Tiruchi. He built a strong team of managers and took BHEL to great heights. Now Tiruchi alone produces annually close to Rs 17,000 crore of vital equipment for the power sector and accounts for a sizable share of production and profits of thIs large corporation.
In 1980 VK was entrusted with the task of building from scratch Maruti Udyog. In just three years he set up in collaboration with Japanese Suzuki Motors, modern car production unit in the country that today accounts for production of nearly half the total production of cars in India. VK revolutionised the Indian automobile industry by inducting technology and modern management systems.
Subsequently, for five years he headed Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and made it a large efficient producer of a vast range of steels.
VK continued his work at Delhi heading the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMMC) and provided a rich contribution to the expansion of industrial production in India.
After four decades VK has shifted to Chennai. This octogenarian has been focusing attention on education. The National College, Tiruchi, now on its 98th year, is headed by VK and has been undergoing a massive transformation.
National College is a product of the Swadeshi movement. Several illustrious citizens including landed gentry and spirited teachers, fired by the spirit of nationalism, founded the college in 1919. Remember, education in those times dominated by Christian missionaries and pro-British members of the society? Leaders of the freedom movement, including Gandhiji and Rajaji, have applauded its work. Its alumni include C V Narasimhan, ICS, M G Balasubramanian, IAS, President R Venkataraman and Economist Dr C Rangarajan.
One of the earliest to introduce the Commerce stream, at one point of time, National College accounted for a third of chartered accountants turned out!
VK and his family contributed around Rs 30 crore for strengthening the infrastructure and other facilities at National College. VK mentioned that close to 95 per cent of students hail are from backward classes, scheduled castes… drawn from villages in and around Tiruchi; and 80 per cent of the parents of these students had not been to school! This is in contrast to most institutions admitting only bright students at the entry level which makes it easy for them to score impressive results!
VK pointed to the hard work put in by the faculty to help these students from Tamil medium schools to switch to English medium and gain proficiency in their chosen subjects. An index of the eminence reached is evident from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council giving a score of 3.61 out of 4 to National College, the second highest among all such institutions across the country.
National College provides special emphasis for imparting education in three streams – English, Mathematics and Earth Sciences. The Ramanujan Mathematical Society is housed in National College and is a Centre of Excellence in Mathematics.
VK outlined plans to set up a school for imparting quality education from the ground level. A handsome endowment in the name of his wife Rajam is being made to setup this facility.
National College has set up five endowment lectures, in the names of C V Raman (on science), Ramanujan (mathematics), Rajaji (politics), A Sivasailam (industry & management) and Dr C Rangarajan (economics).
The Dr C Rangarajan Endowment Lecture for 2017, scheduled for Monday, 09 January, is to be delivered by me.