Coimbatore, May 18 For Mr G.K. Sundaram (affectionately known as GKS among friends and admirers), May 17 was no different from others though it happened to be his last. The 96-year-old doyen of the Indian textile industry performed his usual chores, had lunch with grand children, played bridge at the Cosmopolitan Club before returning home for dinner. Around 10 p.m., he is said to have complained of discomfort and was taken to a private hospital, where he breathed his last.
“He has led a historic life. He was a great visionary and a perfect and righteous person. He had, over the last couple of years, become very affectionate towards his grandchildren (three grandsons and a granddaughter), always challenging them with his thoughts. He used to discuss Vedanta with his daughter, and talk about the sugar industry and politics with me,” says Ms Rajshree Pathy, Managing Director of Rajshree Sugars, fondly remembering her nonagenarian father-in-law.
Mr Sundaram, Chairman and Managing Director of the Lakshmi Mills Company, joined the family-run company as manager in 1938, after completing a course in Textile Technology at Bolton in the UK. Started initially for ginning of cotton, Lakshmi Mills grew into a composite mill producing both yarn and cloth. It recently forayed into manufacture of garment as well, to cover the entire textile chain.
The symbolic logo of Goddess Lakshmi has been associated with the Lakshmi Group. “Mr GKS evolved it as early as 1964 and the patent was in his name. It has since been assigned to the Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Trust,” the Chairman and Managing Director of Lakshmi Machine Works, Mr D. Jayavarthanavelu, said.Multi-faceted
GKS had a multifaceted personality. He participated in the freedom struggle and served considerable periods in prison, was a member of the Rajya Sabha (1968-74), was the founder President of various associations such as the South India Cotton Association, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, South India Textile Research Association, Wind Power Producers Organisation, Coimbatore Management Association, Kamban Kazhagam (Coimbatore Chapter), Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan and so on.
His friends recall how he used to relentlessly expose the rules and regulations that hindered the working of the textile industry without fear and would never give up his pursuit.