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S Viswanathan
Chairman & Managing Director, ECONOMIST COMMUNICATIONS LTD,
owners of IE; Managing Trustee, Agriculture Consultancy Management Foundation (ACMF)

After completing his post-graduate courses in mathematics and political science from the Madras University and teaching for a couple of years at the Madras Christian College, SV launched the transport monthly Mobile in 1962 and the business magazine INDUSTRIAL ECONOMIST in 1968.

SV pioneered the concept of producing special issues on projects, based on visits and detailed discussions. He has visited hundreds of projects, spread throughout India. These include steel plants, power projects, fertilizer plants, agricultural universities, nuclear power stations, automobile plants, textile and petrochemicals units, oil platforms, oil refineries….

SV produced comprehensive special supplements on new projects and released well-designed supplements at the launch of these. Madras Refineries, Indian Oil Lube Blending Plant, CIPET and the three southern steel plants at Salem (TN), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Vijayanagar (Karnataka) are some of the projects at whose launch IE released special issues.

Since 1973, SV has been invited continuously, without break, to attend the annual Economic Editors’ Conferences at Delhi inaugurated by the Finance Minister and addressed by over a dozen Central ministers and senior civil servants. He thus has the unique record interacting with policymakers for over 44 years!

SV has also been invited several times by foreign governments/institutions to cover specific projects and programmes: by the government and industry of Germany, by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, by the International Visitors’ Programme of USA, by the French government, the European Commission, the FAO….

Due to SV’s efforts in the capacity of a founder and Secretary General of the Madras Press Club in 1976, periodicals were also provided with press accreditation. SV has participated in dozens of All India Radio and television programmes in Doordarshan, Sun TV, Thanthi TV, Puthiya Thalaimurai TV, CNN-IBN… He has also been writing articles in Times of India, DT Next, Tamil daily Dinamalar and Tamil weekly Thughlak.

SV covered the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in August 2005 and was part of the PM’s media delegation that visited UK and Finland in October 2006.

SV has interacted with several state chief ministers –Biju Patnaik, Dr Chenna Reddy,
N Chandrababu Naidu, Veerappa Moily,  Parkash Singh Badal and Narendra Modi – and presented extensive reports on their respective states.

SV’s concerns extended beyond publication: SV presented eminent leaders in different fields at special lectures and seminars. The seminars dealt with subjects like SEZs, infrastructure, a fair share of gas for the south from KG Basin, insurance, housing, telecom, foreign trade…

SV instituted the Industrial Economist Business Excellence Award to applaud excellence in a southern corporate. The awards were presented at a public function followed by a lecture by an eminent public figure. Those who addressed under the aegis of IE included Messrs. R Venkataraman, C Subramaniam, Verghese Kurien, Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, Manmohan Singh, M S Ahluwalia, P S Ramamohan Rao, C Rangarajan, M S Swaminathan, B Muthuraman, B Santhanam….

SV set up the Forum Beyond Books in several colleges to help undergrad students expand their knowledge horizons in different fields. In these, he presented special lectures, quiz programmes and provided student-members access to the IE database for preparing their reports, project work…  These were set up at various educational institutions including BIMTECH-Noida, College of Engineering-Guindy, Sastra University- Thanjavur….

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 some of his passionate advocacies.

SV has been invited by the Zaheer Science Foundation to participate in its national and international seminars. In this forum of scientists he has been the only non-scientist!

SV is a member of the court of the Central University of Tamil Nadu (CUTN), Thiruvarur.

A memoir, A Few Good Men, released by the ICT Academy, has documented the experiences of SV among eight other prominent publicmen in different fields.

The Rotary Club of Madras, Chennapatna, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to SV in 2019.

A specialist writer on agriculture, SV took the initiative to set up the Agriculture Consultancy Management Foundation ( in 2006 to improve agri productivity taking recourse to science, technology and management. The trustees and advisors include well-known businessmen and public figures. eg. F C Kohli, ex-Governor P S Ramamohan Rao, B Muthuraman, R Seshsayee, R Thyagarajan, B Santhanam…

SV built his knowledge and expertise on extensive visits to places and interactions with a wide spectrum of people. He has travelled extensively within the country covering remote interiors of several states. Except Jammu & Kashmir and five of the north-eastern states, SV has covered the rest of India in detail. Similarly, he has covered over a hundred projects in Germany, Britain, France, Japan and especially the US where he has visited over 20 states in detail. These have helped him gain insights on industrial development, agricultural and social issues and visits to Universities of Purdue and Wisconsin-Madison, to get updated on R&D efforts.

SV is married to Padma. Their son Bala and daughter Sangita, trained at IE, obtained MBA degrees in the US and work in the US.

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