2014 marks the 50th year of Gandhi-Vallalar Vizha spread over eight days from 02 October. Business leader N Mahalingam (NM) has been conducting this with passion and pride. At the programme, he presents well-known speakers and Tamil scholars on the rich contribution of Vallalar Sri Ramalinga Adigal whose primary preaching is: Service to mankind is path towards moksha (salvation) .The programme includes cultural events liberally supported by the Rs 5000 crore Sakthi Group. Mahalingam also took care to provide sumptuous food through 8 days of festivities.
Work studded life...
A member of the Legislative Assembly for three terms during (1952, 1957 and 1962), Mahalingam moved away from politics after 1967 when the DMK assumed power.
The loss of politics was the gain of society. NM actively participated in numerous social, cultural and economic activities. He supported hordes of Tamil scholars like Avvai Natarajan and encouraged them to pursue research in Tamil literature.
My association with this business doyen dates back to the 1960s when I entered journalism. We first met in Chennai, in 1965 at a seminar on road safety. In 1975, he inaugurated the new linotype machine installed by IE and entrusted the task of printing Kisan World (his farm magazine) to us. He evinced interest in the Agriculture Consultancy Management Foundation (ACMF) promoted by IE.
When Sakthi Finance ordered 255,000 reprints!
In 1988 IE presented a comprehensive report on the group, after visiting its various factories over a month. Sakthi Finance ordered 255,000 reprints and used these for mobilising deposits. The Company’s deposits exceeded Rs 100 crore under the dynamic leadership of S N Pai. Mahalingam emerged a leader star in the sugar industry, expanding operations at Appakudal, Sivaganga, Dhenkanal in Odhisa and Chamundeswari Sugars in Mandya. He helped Dr P G Periyasamy set up Dharani Sugars and S V Balasubramanian, his nephew, Bannari Amman Sugars.
In 2007, NM was conferred with the Padma Bhushan.
Mahalingam’s father, Nachimuthu Gounder, pioneered road transport in the Pollachi-Coimbatore region. The illustrious son expanded this and emerged as a strong distributor of commercial vehicles cars and two-wheelers. Anamalai Bus Transport Ltd (ABT) is the largest distributor of Maruti cars in the south. When C Subramaniam lost the elections to the Lok Sabha in 1967 after his glorious record as agriculture minister, NM engaged him as an advisor.
The Sakthi Group recorded growth producing sugar, alcohol, soya, and synthetic diamonds and emerged strong in the road transport sector. Mahalingam continued to focus on religious, cultural, social and educational activities. The group manages several educational institutions including the Nachimuthu Polytechnic and the Kumaraguru College of Technology.
Deeply religious, NM liberally funded the renovation and maintenance of a number of temples including the Shiva temple at Tiruvidaimarudur, after whose deity he was named. He lived a full life grooming his sons Manickam, Balasubramaniam and Srinivasan and son-in-law Krishnaraj. In his demise Tamil Nadu has lost a multi-faceted personality deeply involved in the economic, religious, social and cultural life of Tamil Nadu for six decades.
IE offers condolences to his wife Mariammal, children and the thousands of employees of the Sakthi Group.