T.S. Santhanam passes away

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Our Bureau

Chennai, April 15

MR T.S. Santhanam, son of the founder of the TVS group, the late T.V. Sundram Iyengar, passed away on Friday morning, after a brief illness. He was 92.

He is survived by his wife Mrs Padma, two sons, Mr S. Ram, Chairman, Wheels India Ltd; and Mr S. Viji, Managing Director, Brakes India Ltd; and a daughter, Mrs Prema Ramanujam.

Over a span of seven decades, Mr Santhanam managed several companies of the TVS group.

He also served as the TVS group's holding company, T.V Sundram Iyengar & Sons Ltd, first as the Managing Director for a decade and then as the Vice-Chairman, till his death.

Although Mr Santhanam had always been regarded as an authority on automotive and road transport industries, he will be better remembered for his contribution in the finance area he was the Founder and Chairman of Sundaram Finance Ltd. He also promoted Madras Motor General Insurance Company, which was one of the companies that were merged into one entity and named United India Insurance Company.

Mr Santhanam played a key role in the establishment of several automobile component manufacturing units in the TVS Group which commenced production of vital components for the automobile industry in the early sixties, with the collaboration of reputed manufacturers. He was not only involved in the negotiations with the foreign partners for manufacturing quality components but was also responsible for the financial planning and project financing of the newly established companies.

His active involvement in the management of several companies in the group, engaged in the distribution of automobile spare parts enabled the transport operators to obtain genuine and quality spare parts at fair prices through a wide network of wholesale and retail outlets. The workshops attached to the automobile dealership units managed by him earned a reputation for reliable and quality service to transport operators.

Recognising his valuable contribution to the automobile, road transport and ancillary industries, the Government of India nominated him as a member of several important committees related to automobile and road transportation, taxation, company law and industrial development.

He was also the Founder Chairman of several trade associations notably the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations and South India Hire Purchase Association.

An ardent supporter of sports activities, Mr Santhanam promoted in the late 1940s the `TVS Greens', which had leading national football players.

His demise marks the end of an era in the automotive and financial services industries.

Condoling Mr Santhanam's death, Mr R. Seshasayee, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland, said that India's auto industry had lost a visionary leader. "He built institutions that flourished through the free play of entrepreneurship, which are unarguably a testimony to the fact that integrity and customer orientation are the true requisites for sustained success," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 16, 2005)
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