In my long career as an economic journalist, I have had the good fortune of the friendship with and guidance from several stalwarts of my time. For one who jumped from academics to the entirely unknown field of economic journalism, this help from the stalwarts was invaluable. And these comprised of people from different spheres. Krishna Srinivas, an internationally known poet, helped me select the career in economic journalism. S N Ramasami of TVS and H B Stanford of Simpsons helped expand my horizons of the transport sector. Chitra Narayanaswamy, Dr P S Lokanathan, P R Srinivas, P A Seshan, N Thanu and Gopulu, among the stalwarts of that time, helped hone my skills in development economics, corporate performance, editing, writing and embellishing these with cartoons.
Such fortune continued as I grew along. In the 1980s and 1990s, I have had the fortune of enjoying the affection and close association of D Rangaswamy (DR).
My interactions with policymakers in Delhi attending the annual Economic Editors Conferences were of great help. These conferences were inaugurated by the Finance Minister and were followed by interactions with a dozen other Union ministers handling economic portfolios, along with senior civil servants. These used to be held after the budget presentation and thus provided deep insights into fiscal policies. DR treated me as a sort of an aasthana vidwan of the Society of Auditors to talk on economic issues, especially on the budgets. DR was appreciative of this experience of mine. DR took a keen interest in Industrial Economist and myself and was gracious and liberal in providing valuable introductions.
DR wholeheartedly commended IE and my efforts. Once Justice Rangarajan of the Delhi High Court addressed the Society of Auditors. DR suggested to him to recommend IE for subscription by the High Court library which the Justice did. When I sought DR’s help in getting a modestly priced marriage hall for a colleague of mine, DR personally took the bride and myself to Swagat Hotel and booked the hall for a modest cost of Rs 450!
For one who has groomed several brilliant chartered accountants like N Rangachari and S Gopalakrishnan, DR was so simple, so accessible and almost child-like in looking at things.
DR’s stature was a big help in gaining access to the top officials of the Income Tax Department. There was such a camaraderie between the commissioners and the practitioners! On many occasions, DR had taken me to the chief commissioner and others to get clarifications on policies and get invaluable data. I do not notice such camaraderie exists today.
When we planned to celebrate IE’s silver jubilee in 1993, DR, then Chairman of Chettinad Cements, took me to MAM Ramaswamy. I initially toyed with the idea of holding this at the Muthiah Hall. But the hall was not free on that date. I still remember the keenness with which DR attempted this. (We later fixed the Kamaraj Memorial Hall).
I have watched the evolution and functioning of several professional associations. It is common in these to come across inevitable rivalries and groupings. At the Society of Auditors, I didn’t find a trace of this and the credit for this should go to DR.