The first major function that I attended as a journalist was the inauguration of the new sophisticated plant of Wheels India Ltd (WIL) at Padi. It was a landmark in the evolution of TVS as a manufacturer of auto components. P R Srinivasan, the youngest son of T V Sundaram Iyengar, developed Padi as a huge industrial complex.
Till then, the TVS group was engaged in bus and freight transport, automobiles and auto components, retreading and manufacture of rubber parts. With the help of S Ranganathan, ICS, at the Centre and R Venkataraman, as the Industry Minister in Tamil Nadu, TVS set up in quick succession Wheels India, Sundaram Clayton, Brakes India, Lucas TVS, all at Padi. V R Sivaraman as Managing Director built a young team of executives and workers who helped lay the foundation for the quick evolution of Padi as one of the most flourishing centres of auto component manufacture in India.
I remember the quick and effective transfer of technology from Britain to India and training of a large workforce in the heavy engineering job of fabricating wheels done under the effective lead of Sivaraman. WIL emerged in quick time as the leader that formed later Axles India to produce sophisticated of axles for heavy commercial vehicles.
On the passing of Sivaraman at the age of 100, the auto industry has lost a pioneer who nurtured the component sector in its initial formative years.