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‘Turnaround man’ V Krishnamurthy is no more

BL Chennai Bureau | | Updated on: Jun 26, 2022

Former chairman of BHEL, Maruti Udyog and SAIL dies aged 97

Venkataraman Krishnamurthy, the former chairman of BHEL, Maruti Udyog and SAIL, who fostered some of the biggest success stories of India’s public sector, is no more. He passed away on Sunday at the age of 97. He is survived by his two sons; his five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Born in Karuveli, Tamil Nadu, V Krishnamurthy, known famously as the ‘turnaround man’, started his illustrious career as a technician on the airfields during World War II, before earning a diploma in electrical engineering, following which he rose up through the ranks of the Madras Electricity Board.

By 1954, he had gained recognition from the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and was appointed to the Planning Commission in charge of power projects. Later at BHEL, he helped save the company from its imminent disintegration, altering Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s perception that Indian managers could not oversee large scale organisations.

Changing the auto landscape

As the founding Chairman of Maruti, he ushered in the modern era of India’s automobile industry, permanently altering the automotive landscape with his introduction of the Maruti 800. He then went on to turn around the Steel Authority of India from a failing company into into an industry leader.

Krishnamurthy also served as Chairman of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council during 2004 - 2014 with a Cabinet Minister’s rank; and also as Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, as a Member of the Planning Commission.

Having lived for much of his professional life in Delhi, Krishnamurthy spent his final years back in Chennai, supporting family venture, UCAL Fuel Systems, in an advisory role as Mentor-in-Chief, and working tirelessly on education projects.

Alongside a Padma Shri (1973) and Padma Bhushan (1986), in 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India, for his services. In 2009 he was honoured with Japan’s highest civilian award, The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.

Known as the “Great Helmsman”, Krishnamurthy leaves behind a reputation as one of the country’s most respected figures in the public sector and an inspirational business leader.

Published on June 26, 2022
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