A tribute to Mr. Manikam Ramaswami

Distinguished Alumnus Award Jury

I I T, Madras

Adayar,

Chennai.

October 17, 2012

Dear Members of the Awards Jury,
I consider it a great honor to be writing this reference, recommendation letter for Mr. Manikam Ramaswami, (Ramu as many of us would address him fondly), to be recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of IIT, Madras.
I have known him for several years now and first and foremost, he is a fine gentleman the like of which I have not come across in recent times. He is such an upright person, with great intellect and values that it is rare to come across any like him, who would sacrifice so much to uphold the values of probity and integrity. I think this has to be stated and recognized first before any of his other accomplishments. As an individual, he is a Gem and not surprisingly he is named after one. Such a humble person that I think he will be embarrassed if he is recognized as a distinguished alumnus and I will be even more embarrassed if he is not

  1. His intellect is what all of you would have recognized first. A Gold Medalist from IIT Madras says it all. Not just his intellect, but also his focus, hard work and commitment. That intellect has helped him learn entrepreneurship, technology, economics and promoting entrepreneurship.

 

  1. The years in IIT Madras has made him capable of such sharp focus that he excelled in just three areas – Textiles, Education and Entrepreneurship.

 

  1. His philanthropy and employee welfare, as well as community welfare are other great examples of his commitment to an inclusive society.

I would like to cite just a few examples to highlight what I know of this man.

  • Installing the first Air Jet weaving machines in Loyal Textiles shows his risk-taking ability, fighting spirit to import the machine against all odds and the entrepreneurship to follow it with other firsts, with the same vigor and determination.
  • P. Orr and Sons is a brand that stands for quality, expertise and values. I have seen the behavior of the staff and experts at P.Orr first hand. A twenty year old mechanical Swiss wall-clock couldn’t be repaired by so many and yet in the first attempt, P Orr and Sons diagnosed the problem, clearly articulated the solution and fixed it, without making any compromise. I continue to use it even today. The customer experience was unique and the values and culture at P.Orr could only be sustained by Ramu. This unique business model is a hallmark of value-based entrepreneurship.
  • Ramu has learnt Economics through practice and studies and has written several powerful articles that demonstrate his understanding of both the Macro and the Micro economics as it relates to the Cotton Industry. He has been fearless in questioning the erroneous policies and equally ferocious in driving change. His intellect shines through the fog of economics, reflected in his very many articles published in the media. To have the enterprise to learn Economics and talk with authority with the likes of the economic advisors of the country is true confidence born out of expertise.
  • As a CII office-bearer, Chairman and distinguished functionary, he showed his entrepreneurial skills in evolving a solution to the power crisis in Tamilnadu. We in the IT industry are deeply indebted to Ramu for the alternate power arrangements that came about due to his espousing the cause while in CII. It wasn’t required for him to fight the battle, but he did in a show of selfless interest in industrial growth.
  • Loyal Textiles has experienced absolute industrial peace with no external unions, because the employees’ interests are well taken care by the management. It is an institution that openly states that the firm (owners, management and employees) have only duties, no rights.

Education is Ramu’s other passion. Again, I have seen this first-hand. The Thiagarajar School of Management in Madurai is a great institution in the making. The ambience in the college, the various facilities in the campus and the well-thought out hostel and staff quarters are comparable to those in IIT, if not in scale, definitely in the plan, quality and execution. And the same with the schools. Ramu spends a fair amount of time at the School of Management as well as the other institutions that his foundation supports. He has a home inside the campus, like the academics, and what better way to send a message about the importance of the schools than being there with them.

And the school he runs admits only children from families earning under Rs 10,000 and has been recognized as a Model School, with a consistent 98% plus record. This is not just CSR, but a passion with him.

And he continues to be the messiah as far as the industry is concerned. Ramu has taken on an even bigger role as the Chairman of Textiles Export Promotion Council, in addition to being in CII and various other bodies.

His outgoing and entrepreneurial nature has been recognized by Overseas Governments with Consular responsibilities in this part of the world.

All in all, a wonderful, upright person with an intellect, values and integrity that is an example for people like me and many others with conscience. I do not know of a more deserving IIT Madras Alumnus and this country owes a deep sense of gratitude to Ramu.

With all sincerity and Regards,

Lakshmi Narayanan
Vice Chairman, Cognizant
President, The Indus Entrepreneurs
Chairman, ICT Academy of Tamilnadu