It was a proud moment for all of us who were mentored by Editor S Viswanathan (SV).
The Rotary Club of Madras, Chennapatna, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to the veteran journalist. The green revolution of the 1960s, the railway strike and the Emergency of the 1970s, the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi and the Bofors gun deal of the 1980s, the opening up of the 1990s, the Pokhran blast, the booming economy of the 2000s, the rise of India as a global power – SV reported them all.
His insightful writing, with a profound knowledge of the business and industry, made him come across as a old-school journalist who researched and researched hard. Even with time, he did not take to the more natural route that many modern-day pen-pushers do: being adept at headline writing and adjective-laden story telling. He believed in one on one conversation with corporate honchos, chased stories by meeting people.
Chairman, TVS, Suresh Krishna, as the chief guest, referred to his long association with SV. “SV’s contributions don’t confine to journalism but enlightening people on current and emerging issues across the globe… He does extensive research on a subject before writing an article. The accolades and awards that he got were so special and not something that everybody gets.”
SV has several firsts. A pioneer of economic journalism in the south at a time of no start-ups supported by angel investors, SV switched from teaching to financial journalism and described himself as an ‘accidental’ journalist. By dint of hard work, SV built IE as THE economic journal of the south. In his long journey, he trained dozens in business journalism.
Spreading awareness on economic issues
In spite of the modest size of the business, SV had as his mission the spread of awareness on economic issues. The Forum Beyond Books, the IE Business Excellence Award, the special lectures by eminent public men including R Venkataraman, C Subramaniam, Dr Verghese Kurien, G V Ramakrishna, Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, Dr Maurice Strong (UN), Dr Manmohan Singh, M S Ahluwalia, Governor P S Ramamohan Rao, Dr C Rangarajan, Dr M S Swaminathan… He is on first name terms with most industrialists of the south.
The Agriculture Consultancy Management Foundation (ACMF) for increasing productivity of agriculture, the PPP model for improving the quality of education in corporation schools, extension of a gas grid to south India and the Shinkansen-type high-speed train from Chennai to Bengaluru were his other passionate advocacies.
Widely travelled, SV produced comprehensive issues on the economies of several states – Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu… interacting with the chief ministers of these. For 45 years on the trot, come rain or shine, health or ill-health, SV attended the annual Economic Editors Conferences inaugurated by Finance Ministers that provided rich opportunity to interact with policymakers. On invitation from the governments of France, Germany, UK, USA and multinational institutions like FAO, ADB, IMF, KfW and WB, Viswanathan has been trying to keep himself abreast of global finance.
Awards to the Good Samaritan Murali and young Chess Master Rakshitta
The Rotary Club presented awards also to K G Murali and Rakshitta Ravi. A social worker, Murali was given the Good Samaritan Award for his service to HIV affected children in Krishnagiri and nearby villages and help them lead a normal life.
Rakshitta, who has become India’s latest Woman International Master in chess at just 13, was presented the Young Achiever Award. Her parents, Ravi and Sai Meera are also international chess champions.
Those who attended the event included Chairman IndusInd Bank, R Seshasayee and his wife Usha; former President, L&T Constructions, K V Rangaswami, distinguished scientist Dr. G Thyagarajan and his wife Shyamala; Chairman, Super Auto Forge, S Seetharaman, leaders from the Chambers of Commerce and several Rotarians.
At 81, SV is still optimistic of the transformation in store for India 2030, the theme he presented at the IE’s golden jubilee a year ago. – Team IE