Sunday, August 7, 2022

PSU turnaround man & SAIL ex-CMD V Krishnamurthy passes away at 97

V Krishnamurthy, a former Chairman of steel PSU SAIL and Maruti Udyog Ltd (now Maruti Suzuki), passed away on Sunday at 97 in Chennai

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New Delhi: V Krishnamurthy, the former chairman of BHEL, Maruti Udyog and SAIL who was considered the turnaround man of several public sector units, died at the age of 97.

Born in the temple town of Tamil Nadu’s Karuveli, Krishnamurthy was also known as the ‘father of public sector undertaking in India’.

Starting his career as a technician on the airfields during World War II, he earned a diploma in electrical engineering, following which he rose up through the ranks of the Madras Electricity Board.

In 1954, he was appointed to the Planning Commission in charge of power projects. Later at BHEL, he helped save the company from its imminent disintegration.

As the founding chairman of Maruti Udyog Ltd, he ushered in the modern era of India’s automobile industry with the introduction of the Maruti 800. He then went on to turn around the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) from a failing company into an industry leader. He also helmed the Gas Authority of India Ltd, now known as GAIL (India) Ltd.

He worked with five prime ministers – Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, and was also a member of the National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi.

Krishnamurthy also served as chairman of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council from 2004 to 2014 with a Cabinet minister’s rank. He was also one of the founding trustees of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

In the academic field, he served as the chairman of premier institutes like the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, and Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, in addition to being the chancellors of Indian Maritime University and Central University of Tamil Nadu.

Krishnamurthy was conferred with Padma Shri (1973), Padma Bhushan (1986) and Padma Vibhushan (2007). Japan also awarded him with its highest civilian honour ‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ in 2009 for his contribution towards the promotion of bilateral economic relations between India and Japan.

Krishnamurthy passed away at his home in Chennai on Sunday.

“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.

Maruti Suzuki India chairman R C Bhargava described Krishnamurthy as an outstanding leader and a visionary, under whose leadership the whole of the Maruti Udyog project was executed, and a whole new Japanese work culture was introduced in India.

On a personal front, Bhargava said Krishnamurthy was “responsible for my moving from civil services to the industry. Had it not for him I would have remained in administration only.”

TVS chairman Venu Srinivasan said, “Dr V Krishnamurthy 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 the TVS Motor company.

“He was one of the tallest leaders in Indian industry. His contribution to the growth of India was immeasurable.”

In a statement, SAIL said Krishnamurthy was the firm’s chairman from 1985 to 1990 and the company deeply mourns his demise.

“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.

(With PTI inputs)

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