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Noble nonagenarians...

Tamil Nadu has been spending much of its energies on issues, which unfortunately have been divisive, partisan and generating more heat than light. The advent of television has also played a part in the waning of interest on public discourses on critical economic and social issues. Luckily, Chennai still has public-minded citizens sharing their wisdom and experience gained over decades. 

Three such personalities with a rich record of service spanning seven decades – B S Raghavan, S Rajaratnam, and G Narayanaswamy – running 90, were honoured by the Friends Forum. The event at the  TAG Dakshinamurthy Auditorium, attracted a full house.

B S Raghavan, an IAS officer who had served at West Bengal, Tripura and New Delhi with distinction, has been super active since his return to Chennai, post-retirement. He has been making prolific contributions to economic and social issues in his columns in The Hindu and the Business Line for several years.  Well-versed and fluent in English and Tamil, he has been freely participating in numerous public discussion programmes,  voicing criticisms on issues he considers unhealthy or unwarranted. His extensive experience with the government also equip him with the nuances and bottlenecks of administration. 

S Rajaratnam (SR) is scholarly among tax authorities. He was a tax administrator and tax adjudicator respected for his advocacy of honesty and integrity. A qualified cost accountant and lawyer, SR was a specialist writer on tax matters for 25 successive years for The Hindu. I remember the doyen of tax professionals, D Rangaswamy, who headed with distinction the Society of Auditors, persuading Rajaratnam to opt for premature retirement and take charge of the Society. For decades, there were hardly any discussions in Chennai on tax matters in which Rajaratnam was not a star speaker. He liberally shared his knowledge and experience with thousands of accountants and taxmen and had authored several books including a lucidly written autobiography. 

G Narayanaswamy (GN) has been the guru for thousands of CA aspirants. S Venkatram & Co, the famous firm of chartered accountancy he heads, has handled accounts of senior political leaders including Rajaji. An ardent admirer of Rajaji, he established the Rajaji Centre for Public Affairs two decades ago. Rain or shine, the Centere has been organising meetings every week, providing a platform for discussion on a vast range of current subjects. GN is known for his witty addresses at the meetings held by the several institutions he heads and in which he has been presenting stalwarts from different disciplines. GN has also been silently making handsome contributions to various educational, medical and social causes. S Gurumurthy recalled such a donation to the dozens of MISA  prisoners and underground workers’ families who suffered during the emergency of 1975-77.

The function addressed by three eminent speakers S Gurumurthy, K V S Gopalakrishnan and R Veeramani, described in evocative addresses, the qualities of head and heart of these three distinguished men.

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