(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –Venkataraman Krishnamurthy, who is considered as the turnaround man of several Indian corporate houses like BHEL, Maruti Udyog, SAIL and Gail (India), passed away on Sunday at the age of 97.
Krishnamurthy is considered as “the father of public sector undertakings in India” by many in India Inc. Born in the temple town of Tamil Nadu’s Karuveli, he started his career as an airfield technician during the Second World War. He’s probably the only person in India Inc who has the enviable recognition of being the chief executive officer of Bharat Heavy Electricals, Maruti Udyog, Steel Authority of India and GAIL (India). He was the founder chairman of Maruti Udyog Ltd and is known for working behind the introduction of the iconic Maruti 800.
“He was my mentor right from the time I started work and right through my entire career. He had an important role to play in helping me build TVS Motor Company,” said Venu Srinivasan, chairman emeritus of TVS Motor Company. “He was one of the tallestleaders in Indian industry. His contribution to the growth of India was immeasurable. It is a great loss to Indian industry and to the country. I will certainly miss his genial and wise presence,” Srinivasan added.
Krishnamurthy had the rarest distinction of being close with former Prime Ministers of India like Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Sastri, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh in various positions. He started his association with the government by being the person in charge of power projects as part of the Planning Commission in 1954, a time when the country’s power sector was in its nascent stage.
In the academic field, he had served as the chairman of premier institutes like Indian Institute of Management ( IIM) Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, in addition to becoming the chancellors of Indian Maritime University and Central University of Tamil Nadu. For his services, the nation had honored him with Padma Shri in 1973, Padma Bhushan in 1986 and, the country’s second largest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan in 2007. Japan also awarded him with its highest civilian honour “the Order of the Rising Sun” in 2009 for his contributions for the promotion of bilateral economic relations between India and Japan.
“A true legend among public sector managers, a man who built BHEL, turned around SAIL and launched Maruti, is no more. V. Krishnamurthy had a glorious innings but missed his century by just three years. He’ll remain an important part of Indian economic history,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted.
Krishnamurthy passed away at his home in Chennai, one of his former colleagues informed. His last rites will be performed on Monday, reported PTI.
“He was one of the best leaders in Indian industry. As a leader of Indian industry, especially public sector, he provided clear vision and led Maruti, SAIL, and BHEL, besides other companies. He changed the way public sector industries were looked at. May his soul rest in peace,” said Sajjan Jindal, chairman & managing director, JSW Steel.
According to a SAIL statement, V Krishnamurthy was the chairman of the company from 1985 to 1990.