Sivasailam: A soft-spoken gentleman, great philanthropist

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on March 10, 2011 Published on March 10, 2011

At a memorial meeting for A. Sivasailam, late Chairman of the Amalgamations group, in Chennai on Thursday: (from left) Mr Srinivasan K. Swamy, Managing Director and CEO, RK Swamy/ BBDO; Mr R. Seshasayee, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland; Mr S. Viji, Chairman, Sundaram Finance Group; Mr M.A. Alagappan, former Chairman, Murugappa Group; Dr Prathap C. Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group; Mr N. Sankar, Chairman, Sanmar Group; and Mr A. Krishnamoorthy, Vice-Chairman; Amalgamations Group. — Photo: Bijoy Ghosh   -  Business Line

He was a soft-spoken gentleman, a great philanthropist, an ardent supporter of agriculture and shunned limelight — this is how the Chennai industry remembers one of its most-loved industrialists, A. Sivasailam, Chairman, Amalgamations group, who passed away recently.

In a condolence meeting organised here by the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in association with FICCI and Assocham, Mr R Seshasayee, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland, observed that Sivasailam's major achievement was to have built a huge business empire during the Licence Raj, without the help of any proximity to politics. Equally, it was an achievement of sorts to resist the temptation to grab headlines by mindless acquisitions during the post-licence raj era, he said.

Recalling how Sivasailam contributed to the Child Trust Hospital even before he was asked for funds, Mr Seshasayee said that Sivasailam was a philanthropist who shunned publicity. “Unpretentiousness is a great quality,” he said, adding that Sivasailam did not need to prove himself to anyone.

Mr N. Murali, Senior Managing Director, Kasturi & Sons, publishers of The Hindu group of publications, observed that the Hindu group and Amalgamations group have been “good neighbours” for several decades (the headquarters of the groups are housed next to each other) and noted that Sivasailam was always eager to help. He also spoke highly of Sivasailam's “faith in R&D and knowledge in agriculture”.

The other speakers at the meeting were Mr S. Viji, Chairman, Brakes India; Mr N. Sankar, Chairman, Sanmar group; Dr Prathap C. Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals; Mr M.A. Alagappan, former Chairman, Murugappa group; and, Mr R. Srinivasan, former partner, Fraser & Ross — people who had known Sivasailam for decades.

One common message that ran across all the speeches was Sivasailam's penchant for philanthrophy, which he practiced well away from the limelight. Mr Alagappan mentioned that a little known fact of Sivasailam was his love for horses. “He had one for himself,” Mr Alagappan said. Sivasailam also loved cars and was always present at vintage car rallies, even at a stage when his mobility was impaired by sickness.

Mr Sankar recounted instances which showed Sivasailam's attentieon to the minutest details, and his sense of humour.

Dr V. Krishnamurthy, Chairman, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council and a former Chairman of several public sector organisations, who had known Sivasailam personally for five decades, sent his message which was read out at the meeting. Fondly referring to Sivasailam using his pet name, Ambhi, Mr Krishnamurthy also mentioned Sivasailam's business acumen and philanthropic bent of mind.

A book of poems on Sivasailam, written by Mr Srinivasan, was released at the meeting.

Mr A. Krishnamoorthy, Sivasailam's brother, said he was overwhelmed by the warm sentiments expressed by the speakers. “Hearing it all from you makes us more proud of Sivasailam.”

Published on March 10, 2011
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