Monday, August 30, 2021

TNCA 2021-22 league season Umpire’s Ready Reckoner

The TNCA Umpiring Sub Committee finally comes of age
Under the Chairmanship of Madanagopal, the team of Ashwin Kumar, Rakesh Raghavan and Rajesh Kannan has come out with a first of its kind comprehensive document for TNCA league Umpires aligning with the BCCI playing conditions and taking into account playing under the Covid Scenario
It is also hoped that this Umpiring Committee will be able to secure a fair fee for TNCA Umpires during their tenure
For over two decades, the annual pre season booklet from the TNCA was a simple document comprising only the basic information about the playing conditions. For the first time in TNCA’s history, the Umpire’s Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of BCCI umpire JR Madanagopal (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2021/05/jr-madanagopal-ipl-umpire-2021-and.html) has come out with a comprehensive and exhaustive over 150 pages document for umpires that goes into minute details of the playing conditions for the new TNCA league season that starts this Wednesday. 

The ground work for this started in April just before Madanagopal was to leave for his IPL stint and the document has been completed just ahead of his departure ahead of IPL - Phase II in the UAE. The thought process began when another BCCI umpire R Rajesh Kannan (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2015/06/rajesh-kannan-bcci-board-umpire.html) sat with Madanagopal to discuss the possibility of churning out an exhaustive document that would serve as a ready reckoner for TNCA league umpires. 

Soon after this early brainstorming session, Madanagopal left for IPL while Rajesh Kannan  sat with his umpiring colleagues M Ashwin Kumar and Rakesh Raghavan to chalk out the plans for this first of its kind document. 
Talking to this writer, Rajesh Kannan said that he sought the permission and availability of Ashwin Kumar to prepare the framework for this document after the TNCA league committee approved the commissioning of a new extensive booklet “It was Ashwin who got down into the details of the BCCI playing conditions. Our objective was to align this booklet with the BCCI playing conditions so the aspiring umpires who are looking at BCCI as their next phase of professional growth could get an all inclusive document in one go.”

A month long exercise
It took a great deal of foresight, time and effort from Ashwin to look into every law in cricket and to get into the playing conditions for each and every law where the TNCA umpires would have looked for an explanation/clarification. “Each day of the month, Ashwin worked out the specific playing conditions relating to a few laws and sent us those pages. We (Rakesh Raghavan and me) then looked into it to see if any additions/ modifications were required” said Rajesh Kannan.

After spending several hours each day for over a month and regular exchange of ideas and thoughts, the combo of Ashwin Kumar, Rakesh Raghavan and Rajesh Kannan came up with an over 150 pages booklet for the umpires. They presented this to their Chairman Madanagopal for his comments who had by then returned from the truncated IPL.
Making Life easy for TNCA umpires
Finally in August shortly after the completion of the TNPL, the umpires sub-committee led by Madanagopal has come up with a document – a booklet of 174 pages - that is sure to be a delight for every umpire in the TNCA. From the very concept to its final implementation, it has been a great team work that has resulted in making life extremely easy for the TNCA umpires. 

Too large a Size
However, not all were in sync with such a large sized document. Some of the senior long standing umpires of the TNCA told this writer that this was too large in size for one's liking and that it was unlikely that too many would read a document of this size.

Another senior umpire was of the view that this could have been broken up into separate booklets based on divisions and on tournaments ( multi day v one day v T20 and division 1/2/ 3-5) to make for easier reading. The umpire also opined that typically local umpires, especially those in the lower divisions, do not use phones to read documents and hence smaller sized booklets customised as above would have been a better option. He asked as to how many of the TNCA umpires would read  in full a 174 page document.
While aligning with the BCCI’s playing conditions, the team also took into account the scenario in which the new season that starts on Wednesday (Sept 1) will be played. Given that lockdown and Covid restrictions are still in force in the country, the document also comprises sections specifically relating to umpiring under the Covid Scenario. For example, the penalties for using spit during the course of play and the number of substitutes permitted.

Bad Light has also been a controversial subject in Cricket. This team has also provided relevant guidance relating to the playing conditions that are applicable on this oft contested area.

Finally, the TNCA umpiring committee has come of age going away from the standard one hour meeting ahead of the season opener that had become the norm in previous decades and the responsibility to post umpires for matches to now thinking out of the box and understanding the issues that umpires faced on the ground and to provide them with a pro active document that any umpire from the first to the sixth division could easily refer to ahead of matches. 

This document is sure to serve as a benchmark in Indian Cricket for other associations in the country to follow.

A Fair Fee for TNCA Umpires?
For a long time, it has been a plea of the TNCA umpires to raise the fee to a fair level. While their work on this truly exhaustive document is commendable, it is hoped that this committee comprising of BCCI umpires will also look into the issue relating to the low fees paid to TNCA umpires and secure them a fair fee for their service. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

NS Harish Jolly Rovers Palayampatti Shield

He has had the biggest moment of his cricket life this week having led Jolly Rovers to a dramatic comeback win against Vijay CC but the 23year old from Vayalur, Trichy continues to be grounded  and is looking to lead a simple life

"The Biggest Blessing of my cricketing life has been the signing with Jolly Rovers. They have taken care of everything as if I was their family member" - Harish
In the not too distant past, winning the Palayampatti Shield in the first division league in Chennai was considered the pinnacle for clubs in the city. It was highly competitive and an eagerly looked forward to competition at the start of every new season. While the shorter version tournaments have taken over in importance, world over, for those from the past, the first division league still holds its own in terms of its charm and glory. For one young 23 year old South Paw from Vayalur in Trichy, this week could turn out to be transformational for he led Jolly Rovers to a dramatic comeback win against Vijay CC to help his team lift the first division championship trophy yet another time.

No Cricket at Vayalur School
NS Harish studied in a school in Vayalur that did not have a cricket team. His interest in tennis ball cricket, where he always opened the batting, led his classmate Varun, a Trichy districts cricketer to show him the way into the U14 trials in Trichy. He was immediately picked as an opening batsman. To further his cricketing interest, he moved to Srirangam Boys School that had a pretty good cricket team. In the year he joined, the school won 7 of the 8 tournaments.  When CSK juniors tourney was held across the state in 2014, Harish led his school to a victory in Trichy bagging the best allrounder award – he had started bowling left arm spin by then. 

When his school went to Tirunelveli for the inter districts tourney in the CSK Juniors, his performance helped beat the much fancied Tirunelveli and he bagged the player of the tournament award. When the school came to Chennai to take on the star teams from the city, his performance won him the man of the match award and helped his school finish third. Based on his performance, he was picked for the CSK Juniors camp.

Top Performance in CSK Juniors Tourney
His performance in the CSK Juniors competition led former Ranji fast bowler D Devanand to pick him for Social CC in the fourth division. It was a season when this writer umpired matches of Social CC, one when Harish scored over 200 runs as an opener (he played as an opening bat and did not bowl. The next year he moved into SICAL. It was there that he began to bowl left arm spin with the new ball. 

Former Kerala and South Zone cricketer B Ramprakash spotted him in a U23 districts match and signed him up for TI Cycles but that turned out to a very quiet season. By then he had joined BBA at the Hindustan College in Chennai. 

In his formative years, it was Veeraraghavan (Veeru) in Trichy who guided Harish into cricket and should take a lot of credit for leading him into serious cricket.

Gokulakrishnan picks him for Egmore Club
It was a year that India Cements run Egmore RC secured promotion to the second division in the TNCA league. J Gokulakrishnan, now a BCCI match referee was impressed with his performance in the U23 districts match and picked him for Egmore Club. It was one of the best seasons for him in the league for he played in all the games and picked up 21 wickets. From an opening bat, he had become a full time spinner who batted now batted at No. 10. 

Into First Division league for Grand Slam
Good performances in the second division for Egmore led him into Grand Slam in the first division where he was under the shadow of Sai Kishore who had already established himself as the lead left arm spinner. He played only three games that season but in his third he impressed everyone with a 8 wicket haul in the match (four in each innings). Grand Slam also won the Palayampatti shield that year. 

Transformational Change in Life
He had hoped to continue at Grand Slam after his eight wicket haul but the feedback was unsure. It was then that Hemant Kumar approached with an offer to play for MCC ( Jolly Rovers’ third team in the first division). Before he could take a call, that place too was filled up. There was just a day left for the transfer signing for the new season when he received a call from Jolly Rovers to sign up as a backup spinner “I knew I was not going to be a first team player and that my chances could be minimal but I was keen to focus on improve my bowling and batting skills in the nets. I wanted to use their infra facilities to up my skills.”

In 2018-19, he signed up for Jolly Rovers. He did not bowl at all in the first half of the season but at the back end Jesuraj was working on him at the nets and he began to feel a lot more confident about himself. He made his debut for Jolly Rovers against Alwarpet with a three wicket haul, also scoring 35. He followed this up with a five wicket haul (when his closest bowling mate DT Chandrasekar did not play). "DT has been a big influence for he has always inspired me to do better."
The performance for Jolly Rovers earned him a place in the VB Veerans team in the TNPL where he worked closely once again with J Gokulakrishnan (the bowling coach roped in by VB). The team reached the eliminator that season and he played 8games in the TNPL that year(https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2019/07/vb-gokulakrishnan-tnpl.html).  

Barath Reddy's Personal Calls to enquire
By 19-20, he had begun to work closely with Bharath Reddy (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2019/11/bharath-reddy-players-man.html) and Ajay Kudua “They would call me quite regularly and enquire about my well being. It boosted my confidence a great deal.”

He had a couple of good knocks in the first division one day tournament with the bat but the season was rather quiet especially after the injury he had in the first half of the season. And then in March 2020 came the Lockdown that kept cricketers out of action for over a year. He looks about the period of the lockdown as a transformational phase for him “We had a disciplined online training session through the entire period of the lockdown.”

During that period, he had a wrist fracture following a fall at home. Immediately Barath Reddy asked the physio to take personal care of him “I did not spend a single rupee on my injury.  Physio Shyam helped me with the complete rehabilitation and I was ready for action when the lockdown was lifted.”

In the TNPL he moved to Nellai from Thiruvallur and his performance this year was steady with his economy rate at 6.

A surprise place in the XI in the SF and The Final
Between the first and second wave, he was back at practice at the nets at Jolly Rovers. He did reasonably well in the TNPL with an economy of around 6. Following the TNPL, it was time to complete the first division league relating to 2019-20. He once again acknowledges the role played by Barath Reddy “He came and saw the pitch ahead of the semi final and suggested that they play me in the XI. Though I did not get an opportunity to bowl or bat, it was a great confidence booster for me to be just in the XI of such a strong team.”

And though he had not made any contribution in the semi final, much to his surprise, he was included in the XI in the final on Sunday morning. Once again he did not get a chance to bowl as Jolly Rovers bowled out Vijay CC for just 245. But by end of day one they were tottering at 37/3 “Though our main batsmen were dismissed, the team was not down in spirit. The message was clear that we batted deep and that this will help us win.”
The Innings of his Life
But just before lunch, Jolly Rovers had collapsed to 145 for 7. The opener, in his teenage years, came into bat now at No. 9 with just a few overs to go to lunch “I had known Apar very closely for the last two years including during my stint at VB Veerans in the TNPL. He had confidence in me. Barath Reddy too was there and I wanted to repose the confidence he had in me for he was the one who backed me for the Semi Final.”

By the time Aparjith got out with still around 50 required to win, Harish had got into his zone and he took on the role of the senior partner when Kiran Akash joined him.

An opportunity to showcase the batting skills
Harish had begun his career as an opening batsman and he always he had it in him as a batsman “During the tea break, Ankit Bhawne came to me and said that this was a life time opportunity for me to showcase my skills with the bat.”

“For the first time in my life I was getting an opportunity to play to win a championship and it was all in my hands. Even few years ago, when I began playing in the lower division league I did not have a clue on the importance of first division. And here I was battling to win the title for my team.”

In fact when there was a call from Grand Slam a few years ago to play in the first division and he had to be away for 3months from Trichy, his parents refused permission for even he did not know the importance of first division league as a young teenager. Later it was R Satish who had been continuously monitoring his progress and giving feedback to the team management on how to use his skills best.

But now, under the highest pressure he had encountered todate on a cricket field, he took Jolly Rovers to a rather unexpected and a dramatic comeback win.  The outcome in the Palayampatti shield was a result of the efforts taken by the team management in the previous 12 months, says Harish. Jayakumar too has played a big role in his life staying in the background and working on his skills quietly at the nets.

During the lockdown, his appa’s real estate business had been down. “Chemplast paid us in full through the entire period of the lockdown. It was with my salary that the family ran the household in Trichy for over 12 months for there was not much happening on the real estate front. It was a great gesture from the owner to take the decision to pay all the cricketers during the lockdown even though there was no cricket for over 12 months. Barath Reddy would say that the nets is available for me to use anytime to hone my skills."

Gokulakrishnan who was instrumental in getting him into the first division is philosophical looking back at the season that just ended in defeat for Vijay CC "He I a good player but its pinching that his best knock came against us. He took the game away from us with a  good disciplined knock. He has always been a talented cricketer."

As a youngster, he says, he came to Jolly Rovers with a lot of fear. It was a big team with a number of top players. Opportunities would be limited and Barath Reddy was known to be a strict disciplinarian. But his signing up for Jolly Rovers has turned out to be the greatest blessing of his life, says Harish “There is total clarity here. The communication from Barath Reddy and Ajay Kudua is very clear. They are open about everything including when I am dropped for matches. But the most important aspect that has been in vogue here is that there is no room for egos. I have simply not felt the difference between a junior and senior player. Everyone backs you when you are in the XI.”

“Ajay Kudua has told me that you are a Jolly Rovers player and you need not worry about your future. It is a big boost for someone coming from Trichy.”
Soon after the win on Monday, Bharath Reddy called it a great gift from the team to N Sankar who celebrated his 75th birthday last November (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2020/11/jolly-rovers-n-sankar-75.html). "It is Sankar's gesture to take care of the players, financially, during the lockdown when for an entire year there were no matches that served as a great morale booster to the entire team."

For Harish, this is a life transforming moment. He went in with his team tottering and with the opposition on a high. But he held his nerves and showed that he is a man for the Big Moment with a cool knock that endorsed the team management's faith in him. He has just played the innings of his life but Harish has his feet firmly on the ground. For the moment the man from Vayalur, known more for the famous Murugan temple, is doing what he likes in life – that is playing cricket and for a team that he likes and that has been taking care of him as if he belongs to their own family.  

This section will track his progress in the new season..

Thursday, August 19, 2021

TT Srinivasaraghavan TTS Sundaram Finance

His Dream – Follow in the footsteps of  Nawab of Pataudi batting for India at No. 4 and fielding in the Covers, Become a John Arlott in the AIR commentary box, A Lifetime in the Navy, A School Teacher at Rishi Valley, Madanapalle
Lord Srinivasa’s Decision – The Best Managing Director of Sundaram Finance in close to Seven Decades who would build on the legacy to make the NBFC one of the most trusted and well respected in the country
It is very rare for a young boy to create an ever lasting impression but TTS did that in the 1960s with his conduct at a dinner at my house - The unshakeable belief and trust in him remained all through my amma’s life and she was always of the view that he would not let another person (depositor/ investor) down -Pradeep Kumar, Former MD, SBI

In 1970, just a week after his 15th birthday, a boy from MCC School, Chetput was proudly representing the TN Contingent at the Republic Day Parade in Delhi. Exactly a year later came one of the biggest moments of his childhood. For the first time in TN history, students of the NCC were allowed to lead the Republic Day Parade and this boy, who was also the Chief Petty Officer at the school, was on the front row majestically parading past the TN Governor. After having lived a cricket dream of following in the footsteps of his icon Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi through his early teens, he aspired to become a Navy Chief but the idea was summarily dismissed by his parents. Listening to John Arlott and Alan McGilvary, he dreamt of being in the Radio Commentary box. Into his 20s, he, much like his elder brother, wanted to make a difference in this world by becoming a teacher. But Lord Srinivasa had other things planned for him and took him into an area he least expected. India opened up to a new world of Leasing in the 1980s and he was the one entrusted with the responsibility of selling the Leasing Concept to large customers across the country. In March this year, he retired as the most successful Managing Director of Sundaram Finance in its 67year history, not just in terms of growth numbers he registered over a 18year period when he was at the helm but also in building a strong team of over 4000 people creating in them a self belief that each could play a stellar role in the growth of the company. In his time, he established great credibility for himself as an unbiased industry expert and for the firm as the most trusted and well respected NBFC in the country. Here is the story of TT Ramesh (to those in his school and college days) / TT Srinivasaraghavan (TTS – to those in the Corporate World).

Thiruvallur Thattai Ramesh (TT Ramesh – TT to his school and college friends) - later TT Srinivasaraghavan (TTS) -https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2008/06/veera-raghava-perumal.html?m=1 - spent his early childhood in Delhi following the transfer of his father TT Rangaswamy, a 1940s Chartered Accountant, who was then working at Standard Vacuum Oil Company (later SO).  Blue Bell Nursery initiated him into Kinder Garden education. It was a happy childhood. TTS remembers Delhi from the late 1950s as being a city with lots of trees (almost forest like) “The fluency in Hindi in later years has something to do with early childhood in the capital.” Another transfer took him to Bombay in 1959-60.

Padi Expansion brings the TT family back to Madras
The 1960s witnessed a transformation in Padi with the setting up of several manufacturing plants by the TVS Group. TS Santhanam, who founded Sundaram Finance in 1954, anchored the setting up of plants in the new industrial belt and made the initial investment in many of these start ups. In 1960, after the ground work had started for Wheels India (the first of the firms to set up operations there) plans were afoot for the setting up of Lucas TVS. Santhanam was keen to rope in Rangaswamy for the finance role. 

TTS’ grandfather TT Rajagopalachari, who had been a cop (Police Force) in Vandavasi, Kollegal and Erode before moving to Madras, was getting on in age and Madras was seen as a good bet to live. The decision was taken, and thus aged six, Ramesh moved to Kasturi Estates, off Radhakrishnan Salai, where he was to spend a major part of his next six decades. 

The Best Outgoing Student at Church Park
After five years at Church Park Convent (yes, it was a co-ed school till class V), Ramesh moved into Chetput’s MCC School, where he was to spend six exciting years. The teachers at Church Park saw him as one with a lot of potential and were of the view that he would excel in academics if he focused on studies. While he was a class topper at Church Park and even received the best outgoing student award, the years at MCC School led him into his big sporting dreams and academics took a back seat. The school offered a plethora of opportunities for the young Ramesh. If later on in life, he had an eye for the English language, the foundation was laid here. English was always his favourite subject at school. He recalls with great delight the role played by his English Teachers at the school “The emphasis was on grammar. If you made a grammatical mistake, you would be pulled up, immediately.”

Ever since he took a liking for the language and till date has preserved the Wren and Martin, something the new gen may not even have heard of (in this digital world).

MCC School - Transformational Experience
He recalls the school as being truly egalitarian with students from varied background - socially, economically and religious – forming part of the class cutting across all barriers "It was as secular as anything I have seen in life." Interestingly, Avani Avittam was an annual holiday. Much later in life, he became a big admirer of the Sikhs for their selfless nature and would often visit the Gurudwara (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar whenever he went North on work.

On the last day of each academic year, each student had to polish his desk and chair so as to get it back in fine shape. The school had set up an honours system whereby groundnuts would be placed in bowls in respective blocks and the students who picked these up had voluntarily to place money in the jars next to the groundnut “It was revolutionary thinking”, says TTS, looking back at those years at school.

“The foundation growing up was truly a transformational experience. We even had a carpentry class where we worked with 'Saw', an art and embroidery class. There was such diversity in learning. The teachers placed emphasis on character building and discipline.”

Tennis Ball Cricket with The Hindu’s K Balaji
MCC School prioritized sport equally with academics and encouraged one to take to sports. It was during this phase that he began playing cricket. Before he had touched 10, he had taken to tennis ball cricket, with his cousin Ravindran’s home and his grandparents’ home serving as the Lords and the Oval for some competitively played matches amongst the cousins over the weekend and on annual vacations. 

Quite a Talker, Articulation stood out
The Hindu’s K Balaji (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2020/09/a-blossoming-cricket-career-was-cut.html) is the same age as TTS and played Ranji Trophy cricket for TN in the late 1970s. He recalls the days from the 1960s “Ramesh, as we used to call him, would cycle his way to our house to play tennis ball cricket. His cousin Ravindran too would join. While the cricket itself was enjoyable and he also used to be at the Kasturi Estates nets when my uncle Rangarajan ran Jolly Rovers for a couple of years, what struck me about him as a school boy was his ability to communicate. I was quite a shy boy but Ramesh was always vocal and would communicate his thoughts boldly.  He was quite a talker and his articulation even at that young age was something that stood out amongst the boys in our age group.”
Cricket Photographs- A Friendly Rivalry
Sport and Pastime and The Illustrated Weekly carried some beautiful photographs of cricketers in those decades “Ramesh and I had a passion for collecting cricket photographs. It was a friendly rivalry and we would often show off to each other as to who had the better album. I always enjoyed his company.”

A Cricketing Dream inspired by Tiger Pataudi
Soon he graduated into the red cherry with serious matches played at the local grounds. As seen in the story earlier this month on PS School Ground (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2021/08/ps-school-ground-revival.html), where VV Sankapani set up an Abiramapuram Kids XI, there were local squads in the 1960s as well - Pettai Team of CIT Colony, Natesan Team from Alwarpet and Venus Colony’s Kannan Team were a few of the prominent ones. Through the year on weekends, they played matches of the real serious kind at MCTM School ground, PS, Nandanam Pithampuram ground and the Gopalapuram ground. These pitches were rough and the bowling was unpredictable “We wore only the left pad and the entire team had only two bats. It taught us a lot to handle challenging situations”, reflects Srinivasaraghavan on the way they ventured into serious cricket with minimal protection.

His elder brother by five years, TT Narendran, who went on to become a professor at IIT Madras, was the one who took him to Ranji Trophy and Test Matches at Chepauk in the 1960s. His cricketing dreams drew inspiration watching Legend MAK Pataudi in action.  “He was my first and the biggest cricketing idol.” TTS has told this writer several times over the last many years that his cricketing interest waned quite a bit the day Pataudi retired such was his idolism for that extraordinary fielder in the Covers. 

TIGER on the Field - Emulating the Nawab in the Covers
Inspired by the Nawab, Ramesh began making useful contributions with the bat and ball for MCC School at the Junior and Senior levels but even more importantly took a liking to fielding in the Covers and impacting the fortunes of the match. Through the 1960s, he did not miss any match that his lifetime icon played in the city. Soon after watching him bat and field, the dreams went wild “Typical of a school boy, I dreamt of playing State Schools, League, the TNCA Colts, University, Buchi Babu, Ranji and the Test - the usual hierarchy of dreams for a city cricketer – and believed in all seriousness that one day I could emulate my CRICKETING ICON.”

At the BS Nets facing VV Kumar's leggies and wrong-uns
Cricket nets was as religious as going to a temple “I cycled my way to the BS Nets at 5.45am with cousin Ravindran. Venkat and VV Kumar would bowl for hours. And finally I would get that opportunity to bat for a few minutes. Facing the leggies and googlies of VV was part of the experience.”

The sporting facilities at MCC School were amazing and for long till the 1990s multiple matches used to be played on the huge ground which he says “was the envy of everyone in Madras” and “a luxury beyond description”. AG Ram Singh and Audi Chetty, both strict disciplinarians, coached the school cricket team in that phase. 

NCC - The early discipline in Life
While the big cricketing dreams was an important feature of his schooling years, NCC too had become an integral part of his weekend life for three years and was turning out to be transformational. The class teacher in Class VII was also the NCC Teacher and he enrolled the enthusiastic 13year old in the NCC. Every Saturday morning, he would board 29C or 23A at 5.30am to be on time for a grueling three hour session, at the end of which the wards would be served Rasagulla and juice. There were also days when he would cycle to school!!!
The Biggest Moment of his Childhood
His commitment and performance was top notch and he was chosen to be part of the TN contingent at the Republic Day Parade in Delhi in 1970, a week after his 15th birthday. The following year, in the  biggest moment of his school days, he was asked to lead the NCC Naval Wing in the Republic Day Parade in Madras. In the final year at school, he became the Chief Petty Officer. The leadership skills developed right from there.  While there was a cricketing dream on one side, this high of a majestic parade  in front of the Governor led him to aspire for a career in the Navy. As vocal as he was in those years, the idea was nipped in the bud for his parents dismissed it summarily just like Cricket Promoter and Senior Advocate TS Ramaswamy's was almost in identical fashion two decades earlier!!! (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2021/08/advocate-ts-ramaswamy90.html)
Being in team situations from the time he was young helped him socialize. Hockey and Cricket at school as well as the NCC experience handed him the ability to communicate very early in life and sowed the seeds in him on the importance of team building and bonding. 

Contrasting Personalities - Vaali and Sugreeva!!!
At school, TT Ramesh became an integral part of the music band and would often be seen listening to western music. A liking for Beatles was the starting point and his favourites through the 1960s and 70s included Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. He took to Rock Music (soft rock) later.  While interest in carnatic music came much later in life, he has always been a fan of legendary MS Subbalakshmi right from a young age and ‘saw her as a Godly person’. 

Elder brother Narendran, who played the role of care taker especially when Ranji and Test matches came to Chepauk in the 1960s, had strong beliefs and conviction and fought for causes. Even when there was rampant ragging at college, he continued to wear the Vaishnavite Thiruman without fear. He recalls his brother from those early years “Ramesh was very active in sports and cultural events through the 60s and early 70s. He would often hum his favourite Kishore Kumar’s songs. We were considered contrasting persons. He was ‘action oriented’ in the teenage phase and was big time into cricket, skits, western music and the NCC while I had begun learning the Veena at 12 and was only a cricket enthusiast and not a player.”

“Once when my appa and periappa went to Mukkur Azhagiya Singar for his blessings, the Saint referred to the two as Rama and Lakshmana. Ramesh’s sense of humour came to the fore when he pointed out to me that if the two of us had gone, Mukkur Swamy would have referred to us as Vali and Sugreeva!!!”

The early lessons from amma
While his appa slogged his way at Padi through the 1960s, it was his amma, Vimala, an ardent devotee of Vedantha Desikar and Srinivasa Perumal (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2021/01/vedantha-desikar-srinivasa-perumal.html) who played an important role in his formative years encouraging him in sports, NCC and other extra curricular activities. She also initiated her two sons into Desikar Stotras and later Adi Sankara Slokams through acharyas. 
TTS says his amma’s early lessons have stood the test of time and had come into play at important moments in his life “She wanted to be always thankful for ‘what we had’ in life. The virtue of Gratitude and living within means were messages that have stayed with me all along.”

Narendran says that while both were also initiated into the Vedas for a brief period in their youth, 'TTS probably has more Bhakthi than me today'!!!

The Awesome Foursome at Viveka - The Glorious late teens
His best cricketing years were in the first half of the 1970s. He moved into Vivekananda College for his PU in 1971, a year that saw him grab immediate cricketing attention in front of hundreds of students. Captaining his class team in the inter department tournament, he led them to a surprising victory against a much fancied B.Com to create cricketing headlines within the College campus.

Representing the College was a high for TTS for it was quite a strong side that decade. Sundars (M and K) and Rameshs (P and TT) forged great friendship over the four year period at Vivekananda College.  By then, he had bought a second hand bullet that has remained with him for five decades. When matches were posted far and wide, he would ride with M Sundar on the bullet to AM Jain, Railway Institute, Dunlop and Kandaswamy College while P Ramesh, who had a Java, went with K Sundar. ‘So it was always a Java v Bullet on road.”
In those years, he was a ‘teenage rebellion’. He had shoulder length hair, wore a colourful Kurtha, sported beads and chains and had a hippie look “I was hippie minus drugs and the pot”!!! (Four and a half decades later, with Covid coming into play, he now sports a tuft partly resembling the TT from the early 70s)

Into TNCA League Cricket with K Sundar
K Sundar played together with TT both for Vivekananda College as well as BRC in the TNCA league and then like TT moved to US for his Masters. He has been in the US ever since. Talking to this writer from Pennsylvania ( a city where both TT and Sundar did their Masters), where he last worked as the Pricing Manager, North America, SAP, Sundar, recalls TT's craze for Pataudi and the day the two of them got the nod to play for BRC in the TNCA league “TT was a huge fan of  the Tiger and just in awe of him. He walked, fielded and conducted himself like Pataudi. Fielding in the Covers, he felt like Pataudi. He visualized emulating the legendary Cover fielder every time he took to the field. His fielding even clinched him a place in the college team in the 2nd year. Once at that popular RKM ground in T. Nagar opposite Jeeva Park, I remember him taking a diving one handed catch in the covers reminding everyone of Pataudi’s brilliance in that position. I was impressed with the way he handled himself on the field and was keen to play along with him in the TNCA League.”

TN Cricketer from the 1960s and later SBI star R Chandrasekaran (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2020/09/r-chandrasekaran-sbi-globe-trotter.html) ran BRC in the TNCA league. “I was playing for Grand Slam in the fifth division and first talked to Ganapathy and then to R Prabhakar (brother of Chandru) to see if I could play for BRC in the fourth division. I also asked him if I could bring along a middle order bat and an excellent fielder (TT) along with me."
Prabhakar (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2021/08/kr-rajagopal-tn-batting-legend.html), who just last week was honoured at Chepauk for his cricketing contribution by the TNCA, nodded to this and that’s how the two of them played together in the TNCA league. 

Post Match Analysis at Mani Kadai
It was usual practice for TT to pick up K Sundar from Oliver Road on the way to the league match. On the way back, the two would spend time analysing the match at Mani Kadai “We had a great time playing together. Chandru gave us all the freedom to express ourselves and never applied pressure on us as youngsters.  It was an enjoyable year in the league. Mani Kadai at the end of Kennedy Lane was our go to place for post match analysis. Throughout that period, we had a ‘credit’ account with Mani Kadai, who handed us juices and nuts simply based on Trust.”

This probably gave TTS early insights into lending and how customer experience mattered even to a Petty Shop Owner. Mani Kadai’s trust in the foursome may have entrenched strongly in his mind for in later decades, he always placed emphasis on ‘Trust’ while lending to customers as against P&L and Balance Sheet. TTS has told this writer many times in earlier years as to how Mani would just write the balance due on the back of a cigar wrapper and this understanding went on through the four years at College.
Revealing Character – Ever Positive even in Adversity
"While it was great playing together with him on the cricketing front and the two of us strove hard for that  talked about ‘paper score’, what was a stand out for me with TT in those collegiate years was the positivity he displayed even in adversity. His shoulder would never drop. He was brave at heart, always very enthusiastic, hard working and had an upbeat outlook to life.”

Shocks Top Bat Rocko Sundar in Single Wicket Tourney
Into his B.Com years, he created another cricketing shock at College this time in the Single Wicket Tournament when he beat top batsman and college opening bat M Sundar (Rocko),  who would go on to play for IOB in the first division. Close to five decades later, Sundar, who will be celebrating his 68th birthday next Tuesday (Aug 24) told this writer from  Gilbert, Arizona, US where he is spending time with his grand daughter as to how the defeat was one of his most unforgettable moments in cricket “That’s something I can never forget & never ever will. TTS and I were the finalists in the college single wicket competition. I hit the first ball for four and he was under pressure. I played a full blooded sweep almost parallel to the ground to the fourth ball. I was certain that it was going to be four. But a fielder named Srinivasan came from nowhere & took an out of the world catch to dismiss me & the rest was a cakewalk for TT. The irony was that this guy Srinivasan, who used to drop 9 catches out of 10, sealed my fate by taking an astounding catch. In a way it was it was a great life lesson to never take things for granted. I was too sure of winning but lost to my good friend. Ever since, I have been waiting for a chance to settle scores with him!!!!”
( A bat was presented to him at the time of his farewell earlier this year and may be the two can lock horns again in a veterans match sometime in the near future once Rocko is back in Madras)
 
Good Cricket Strategist
Rocko Sundar spent a lot of time in the 1970s with TT at the Nageswara Rao Park, a few hundred yards away from his Luz Avenue home. Several decades later when TTS launched the monthly Mikeless Sunday Kutcheri in the Park, it brought back happy memories for Rocko “The long chats & discussions at the Nageswara Rao Park on various topics late into the evening still lingers fresh in his mind.”

M Sundar says that while TT was a good middle order bat and a fine fieldsman, he made a significant contribution away from the field “He was a very good strategist and often used to come out with out of the box ideas during our team meetings.” 

Personally he says he benefited a lot from his friendship with TT. “His sensible & timely advice many a time helped me in taking some important decisions in my life. He was always a friend in need.  His leadership qualities were very evident even during those days in college. I will always cherish his friendship which has lasted over 50 years & is still going strong."

A Terrific Team Man
South Zone cricketer from the 1970s P Ramesh too was a classmate of TT for four years at Vivekananda College and it was under his captaincy that his namesake played first for the college. Talking to this writer from his home in Hyderabad where he has settled down after his retirement from SPIC, he pointed to TT being a very level headed fellow right from the beginning “He was ‘born intelligent’ and had the caliber to take classes in place of the lecturer. But he would never show off and was always down to earth. He had no airs about himself and right from those days, he was helpful to others. He was a non controversial guy.” 
“While he was a good all rounder – a decent bat and a medium pace bowler – and was terrific with his fielding, what differentiated him was that he was always a team man.  That was also probably a reason as to why he became so successful in his corporate life. He always placed the team first.”

The Popular Bullet - Remembers the Number Five Decades later
P Ramesh, who himself had a Java, recalls TT as being the first one among the cricketers to have a bullet "We used to enjoy those rides especially to Woodlands Drive-in where we used to discuss cricket over a coffee. Almost, 50 years later, I still remember the number ‘6427’ such was our enjoyable experiences with him.”
S Srinivasan (Just Cheena to his friends from the 70s) was a couple of years junior and went on to play for Bombay and TN in the Ranji Trophy. Just last week, he launched a first of its kind marketing campaign for his mentee pitching with the coach of the TNPL team just ahead of a knock out match and actually claimed to have secured a place for teenager Vimal Khumar in that match(https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2021/08/srinivasan-s-vimal-khumar-tnpl.html). He remembers TT Ramesh as an extremely nice human being, one who continued to be an easily approachable and a friendly person even after going on to held a top position as the Chief of Sundaram Finance for close to two decades ‘As a Cricketer, TT was a stylish middle order batsman & an athletic fielder.  I enjoyed driving his Bullet. As an old cricket team mate, I admired his ability to lead from the front and felt so proud of him leading so successfully a top corporate like Sundaram Finance and for such a long tenure."
TTS played for R Chandrasekaran's other team in the TNCA league - Globe Trotters - in the mid 70s, and played alongside the late VB Chandrasekar (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2016/01/vb-chandrasekar.html) who made his league debut that year as a young teenager.

By the time he was into college, he reconciled himself to the fact that cricket would remain only a dream.

TT as John Arlott in his Sleep
Into the late 1960s and the early 70s, he had become so crazy of Pataudi that cricket became his sleeping pill every night!!!! Much to the amusement of his elder brother, TT Ramesh would present commentary of Tiger Pataudi batting and fielding brilliantly in the Covers at Chepauk, all in his sleep. It was also a period that he had begun listening to John Arlott and Alan McGilvary on the radio. This had become so much of a habit that at a point in time in his late teens he contemplated becoming a radio commentator for he genuinely believed he had the cricketing acumen and a good control over the English language to be a successful commentator. His tennis ball mate from the 1960s K Balaji had also made his debut as a radio commentator in the early 70s. Unfortunately for TT, he did not take the necessary steps in that direction and that dream too saw a natural death. 

Mardi Gras’ Best Entertainer
Alongside his great interest in cricket, he was also involved in cultural activities at the college. He acted in a Tamil Cultural drama penned by Crazy Mohan (his brother Balaji, a Viveka student brought along the script). By this time, TT’s extracurricular activities had expanded manifold. He had become the Secretary of the Fine Arts Club at the college and was also into Western Music. At the IIT, he staged a Shakespearean play and was sought after in the Western Music Band. In his final year at college, he was adjudged the best entertainer at Mardi Gras. 35years later his son too bagged the same award!!!

He looks back at the first two decades of his life as having been totally eventful, enjoyable and him having had an exuberant time.

A Lesson in Financial Management
Putting behind the cricketing dreams (playing and commentating) and with the option of pursuing a role with the Navy ruled out, he set out to the US in the Fall of 1976 (after a year of M.Com at Loyola) for a MBA from the Gannon University, Pennsylvania. For the first time in two decades, he was to be away from home for a long period of time and boarded the flight to the US. While it was a new cultural experience and the Masters itself was a great learning, he missed home. Every Sunday morning he would stand next to the only phone instrument in the hostel and await the Trunk call from his parents that lasted just under 10minutes. 

“I wanted to get to Oxford, driven by the hero worship of Pataudi but ‘Oxford would have cost a lot’. The Masters in the US was a bit of ‘proving to myself’. 
                            Later in life, TTS visited the University 

"Through the teenage years, I had got all that I had wanted. In the US, money was limited. I had to manage within what I had. It taught me big life lessons especially on financial management and to live on shoestring budget. It made a man of me.”

During the year, hand written letters to his parents became a regular feature.
 
Even though his appa asked him to consider staying back for a couple of years to get work experience in the US, he was decisive and made the trip back home soon after his Masters.

One of the Best Banking jobs in the country
In  October 1977, he joined Grindlays Bank in Calcutta. It was seen as a top job for a fresher but he found the set up at Grindlays 'a bit of a fake'. Calcutta was just going through the post naxal phase. His meetings with people there made him aware of how unreal and exploitative life was. He was rated highly and there were whispers that he would go far “But that’s not what I wanted to do. I didn’t see me doing that for the rest of my life. I never saw myself as a Grindlays Banker though I had flair for that work.”

After an initial stint in Calcutta, he moved to Bombay. Watching the poverty on the streets of Bombay in the late 1970s, he was further disillusioned and began writing angry melancholic poetry.

When things were just looking up (he had spent six months in Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi), he shocked his parents by landing up home one morning to announce that he had quit what was considered then as one of the most plum jobs in the banking sector in the country. 

He himself was going through a social awakening and had left leanings at that time. In his 20s he reached a stage of disillusionment with corporate life and seriously contemplated taking to teaching. His brother was already a teacher and “I wanted to follow in his footsteps.” He visited Rishi Valley school and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan but he did not take it forward. Following parental pressure, he ventured into CA but pulled out of that as well. 

From a Saheb Bank, he moved to as local as it could get joining Madras headquartered IOB. For the third time in his life, he was to go to Delhi. This time he found a life changing moment on the eve of his departure.

The Car Driver, the Box Carrier  and Finding his Life Partner
In 1981, Bagyam was in the fourth year of the medical school. A severe water shortage led her to vacate the hostel. Her local guardian in Madras was a close friend of TT. Exams were coming up and a lot of books had to be packed into a big steel trunk. His friend asked if he could help out. TTS played the role of a car driver bringing to the hostel his appa’s car. At the hostel, the hard worker that he was, he carried the heavy boxes and loaded into his car. And thus began the friendly conversational engagement. For the next couple of months, he met her regularly.

And then it was time for him to leave for Delhi. The eve of his departure was a make or break day in life “We decided that this was serious stuff and agreed to start on a new journey.” 

“Her appa who had attended the MMA meetings came to know that I was the son of the MMA President. My Appa’s reputation and credibility won me the vote with my father in law.”

Into Photography- His Love for Nature
Right from childhood, he had a love for nature and Photography was a natural extension of that love. The inspiration came from a dear friend who was an excellent photographer himself. In the early 1980s, he took to photography as a hobby and that passion has lived with him for the last four decades. Later in his corporate career, it was the nature shots from his Canon Camera that featured on his New Year Cards.

Pioneering Leasing Concept in India
At IOB, he encountered a bad boss and it was time for the second exit call of his banking career. It was then that he came across a newspaper ad calling for interview in the financial service space and joined Sundaram Finance in 1983. Leasing was a new concept and being pioneered in India. The ten year phase from 1983 was an exciting one for TTS “It was a big responsibility to be anchoring a pioneering concept and trying to sell the concept and the product to the top corporate honchos in India.” 

He met all the top mill owners in Coimbatore, the big corporate chiefs in Bangalore and the MNCs in Bombay and Delhi. It was a great phase of learning for him “I was learning and selling at the same time. It was an exhilarating and exciting experience for me.”

At the University of Learning  with Santhanam and GK Raman
Leasing was something close to Founder Chairman TS Santhanam heart and this led him to personally monitoring the progress in this business. And this meant that TT Srinivasaraghavan got the opportunity to interact closely with both Santhanam and GK Raman through the 1980s.

It was a magical decade for Srinivasaraghavan "In every interaction, the Chairman would initiate the thought that the customer was at the centre of everything in our business. Handling customers and the importance of 'people connect' were everyday lessons. As a youngster, it was a huge blessing to be interacting frequently with the two legends.”
TTS had wanted to go to Oxford but here he was at the ‘School of life’.  He went on several tours with GKR through that decade and learnt life stories from him. While he was ambitious, TTS never thought he would lead the firm one day “In the 1980s, there were only two GMs in the company and my thoughts dwelled on wanting to become a GM one day like GKR.” 

Appa's message ahead of his corporate career 
When he started out on a career at Sundaram Finance, his appa who had by then become a trusted lieutenant at Brakes India (ED – Finance) handed him a message that stayed with him right through his corporate life “He was always on leading a simple life and wanted me to be approachable to everyone.” 
'People Management is the most important skill', his father had told him at a young age. “Even though my appa was in finance, he saw the people connect as important. It was from him that I learnt to put people first.”

Wife's Sacrificial Role
While the decade from 1983 was exciting and exhilarating at work, it involved a lot of travel. Many months, he would travel 20days across the country. "Rarely do we pass on the credit to the home maker. My wife made a huge sacrifice and kept the fire burning at home while she also simulataneously donned the role of a Professional Doctor. Like with my amma in the 1960s, Bagyam slogged at home taking care of the children while I was wetting my feet on the ground meeting customers."

The Second Innings at SF
For a brief period in the mid 1990s, he moved to GE Capital for his fourth stint in the national capital but came back to Sundaram Finance after 18months. After having worked in Leasing for a decade, he was now at the core of the business. TTS credits GKR for his solid backing and the confidence reposed in him “He asked me to take charge of TN and initiated me into the core of the business. I met truck owners and transporters across the state. He handheld and groomed me in my second innings.”

A couple of years after his return, he was elevated to the post of Deputy MD. The period leading up to his taking over as the MD in 2003 was a delicate phase. There were many seniors in the company from whom he was learning but was also going to be their boss. “I had to do my personal navigation with each of these individuals.”

Bruno and Bhushky- New Companions @ home
In the late 1990s, another new companion came into his life, that has remained for the last 25years. His daughter was a dog lover and was keen on a pet at home when she was young. That led to the arrival of German Sheppard Bruno “He was very attached to me and would be all over me the moment I reached home. He listened to everything I said. He died when he was just 9."

Since then, for the last 14years, Bushky has been an additional member at home  and he follows TTS all around the house.

The Cricket Connect after 25years
This writer’s earliest interaction dates back to January 2002, 18 months prior to him taking over as the MD, and interestingly to a cricket related activity. Srinivasaraghavan had largely been away from cricket for two and a half decades especially after the retirement of Pataudi, with the only connect arising soon after the birth of his son. His wife had named their daughter and it was his time now to name the son. Legendary off spinner S Venkataraghavan made his test debut when TTS was just 9years old and ever since he admired him both as a cricketer/ off spinner as well as for his fighting qualities that saw him make several come backs into the Indian team despite being dumped every now and then. TTS named his son after the legend - coincidentally Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan.  
Batting, at Chepauk, after almost three decades

Following the insurance subsidiary’s partnership with the TNCA, this writer met with BBC’s cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on the eve of the one day international between India and England pitching for the BBC commentators to refer to the North end as the Royal Sundaram end. Since then it had been a long 19year association. He was not one for publicity so much so that in the initial phase of the engagement he would lay a pre condition of his photo not featuring in a story (this was not possible though). In spirit he was for a long time low key and measured with the big moment of the year always being the annual results announcement. Throughout his 18year stint as the MD, he was vocal against quarterly announcements. It took a lot to get him to meet journalists but when he did he created a lasting impact on them as one who spoke his mind on raging issues and fought for the rights of the NBFC sector. By the time he retired, he had become one of the most credible NBFC voices in the country. 

The 'Sundaram Experience' as a Differentiator
To everyone in the organization, his door was always open and one could walk into his room to express his/her views including airing their grievances. He practiced the Sundaram Experience in every conversation and was of the view that every employee of SF was a brand ambassador of the company and should display it in every conversational engagement. Throughout the 18years, he infused the message that Sundaram Experience was the biggest differentiator of the company. He would often say ‘anyone can offer our rate or better it, but no one can provide the Sundaram Experience.’

Not a New Chapter at Sundaram Finance
Sundaram Finance had registered disbursements of Rs. 1500cr and Receivables under Management of just over Rs. 2500cr  when he took over as the MD. Both of these rose 10times by the time Pandemic hit India in March 2020. But he says he did not set to begin a new chapter at Sundaram Finance “I was inheriting a fantastic legacy. The only thought I had was to preserve and grow the legacy for I saw it as a great responsibility handed now to me and had no right to dilute the legacy.”
Within a couple of years of his taking charge as the MD, Santhanam passed away and then a few years later his mentor GKR too “Yes, the ‘Banyan Tree’ fell but the values were so deeply entrenched that we navigated through that phase. The greatest confidence came from the Chairman Viji. “The empowerment to operate was fantastic. The kind of trust he had in me helped me a lot.”

TTS is all HEART
Srivats Ram, Grandson of TS Santhanam, has been the MD of Wheels India for the last decade and half. He first met TTS in 1989 when he trained at the Leasing department of Sundaram Finance. Over the last 15years, he has had long interactions at least once every fortnight with TTS mostly to get a sense of the market. 

He recounts how he used TTS as a sounding board on all important issues “Long ago, I went through a phase when I was looking for a specific direction that was a bit way from what I was doing then. It was TTS that I called on for a long chat. He always had insights into things that could go wrong. He would ask questions that would make you think and lead you in the right direction to frame your own thoughts.”

In the decades I have known him, he is all ‘HEART’ and this gets reflected in his interactions with people. If he is there, he is completely there - he puts his heart into everything, says Srivats on how the People Connect was his big differentiator. 
"He has that special ability to connect with people. This connect helped him gain genuine trust both with his customers as well as people within the organization. At SF, he built trust with the team that gave confidence to them that things would work out even against all odds. He would always put his hand around people’s shoulder unmindful of the hierarchy. He really was a man full of HEART." 

Custodian of Company Values - His Differentiating Trait
Srivats says that professionally TTS lived and breathed the Sundaram values."He saw himself as custodian of the company values and it was he who solidified the culture of the company. Culture is not taught in seminars and happens through day to day working. He did that consistently over a long period of time."

He was not a man for just Sunny Times
He always saw everything from a customer view point and took decisions for the customers “I remember times when he would question large customers as to why they were looking at 20 vehicles and would actually recommend them to take only 10 vehicles at that point of time. He would advise them on potential downsides of taking higher number of vehicles. It was that openness and caring for his people and customers that helped build trust. He was not a man only for Sunny side of things. That was his differentiating trait.”

"He felt for other people and that feeling he captured and articulated in his discussions. I always used him as a barometer on how the industry was doing. I hugely valued his opinions on all issues relating to the industry."

Never had Silver Spoon Mentality
Narendran who has seen him very closely all through his life says that even as a youngster TT was articulate and his communication abilities were high. "The exposure of education in the US and the summer training there and the varied experience at Grindlays and IOB would have helped him when he joined Sundaram Finance. Also, since he was exposed to leftist ideology, he always saw the other side of things. TTS never had silver spoon mentality, he was and has always been a down to earth personality."

Far Sighted - Long Term Approach
Everything he ventured into was far sighted. The people connect took him to Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival. Like he connected with the employees and customers at the work place, he reached out to the man on the street through the festival. He was ever consistent with the view that he was not out there to do things differently but to do the things the company was good at as best as he could. For over 15years he had the same answer to the journalists when asked what was different at the festival that year “This festival is not about doing different things every year but it is a recreation of the Thiruvizha atmosphere that the previous generation would have experienced in their youth, and to take the new gen back in time to the golden years for them to feel and experience  .”

Mylapore Festival – A Big Positive impact on the Society at Large 
TS Santhanam’s son Ram is the Chairman of Wheels India and has known him from the time he was TT Ramesh “I used to play tennis ball cricket with him when he was a school boy. He was deeply religious and a well rounded person. While the company grew successfully under TTS, the Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival that he personally anchored was a transformational exercise in giving back to the society."
“It made a big positive impact on not just the depositors and the customers but the society at large. The annual event was appreciated by the common man on the street.”

The same principles held good at the corporate work place. He would often point out to the media that Sundaram Finance is not about doing new and different things every year but to consistently keep doing the same things the company was good at as best as it could and to provide existing and new customers with the Sundaram Experience. If the team fell short on the numbers he would put his hand around them and inspire them for the next year but when someone violated the Sundaram Experience  and the Sundaram Values, he was uncompromising and unforgiving.  

Transforming Nageswara  Rao Park 
For long he had heard the cries on the lack of a platform for the next gen in the musical field. The new gen parents expressed unhappiness at their children being confined to the AC rooms with their smart phones. For 15years,  he answered this grievance with activities on the ground showing a long term consistency previously unheard of in the city.

To those below 15, he provided a platform to present a mikeless kutcheri in front of an informal audience at the Nageswara Rao Park that served as a launch pad for budding artistes. Over 1300 youngsters benefitted from this. And every quarter, he ideated the concept of art workshops for children that led them away from the confines of the AC room into the open air park. A decade after the launch, the Limca Book of Records presented him with the award of the longest Open Air Kutcheri in the country.
Former TNCA Secretary  and now CEO of CSK, Kasi Viswanathan (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2015/02/ks-viswanathan-tnca-bcci-ipl.html) played cricket for Vivekananda College in the early 70s and a few years senior to TTS. He had seen the  dark and dirty Nageswara Rao Park in those years for it was here that the  Viveka cricketers met regularly in the evenings V Krishnaswamy, V Sivaramakrishnan, PP Swathy and KS Viswanathan were part of this group. 

"Our club was called the Young Men's Club and we used to participate in local tournaments.  Even in those years, TTS was a very intelligent and jovial person. He was a strong team man and would always encourage our team."
"He had seen the poor state of the Nageswara Rao Park in the 1970s. And in the years after he took over as the MD of Sundaram Finance, he has completely transformed the park and the results are there for everyone to see. He has also been organising cultural events at the park providing a platform to thousands of young children."

"While he has been hugely successful as a corporate CEO, as a personality, he remains the same simple man and the friend that I saw during the college days."

While he travelled endlessly in the 1980s at the start of his career, the period as the MD was no less tiring. The company was expanding rapidly across the country. If the wife made sacrifices in the 1980s and 90s, his daughter and son were understanding of their appa and what his role entailed in their growing up years.

Srikanth Srinivasan was with the TVS Group for 25years and is now the India Head of US based Extended Warranty firm Assurant Inc. Srikanth played an integral part in the TVS TWG stake sale at MyTVS late last decade before he made his way to Assurant. He has closely followed the fortunes of TTS and Sundaram Finance over the last three decades. His father(https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2020/10/r-srinivasan-tvs-madurai.html) has been one of the two longest serving professionals at the TVS Group over the last 100 years, the other being H Lakshmanan (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2021/03/h-lakshmanan-tvs-sundaram-clayton-ed.html).

“I have always been in awe of Sundaram Finance and TTS. To me the brand SF conveyed Trust, Reliability, Growth, Maturity and if you look at TTS, you can attribute the same brand values of SF on to him without battling an eye-lid! While you generally feel alienated or lost in financial jargons while listening to most of the CEOs from financial sector, TTS has been person whom we have looked up to listening attentively to learn and understand where the industry was headed. When it comes to customer connect, he is a living example of how a grounded CEO.”
“His usually unkempt hair and grey beard was almost a distinctive identity. Contrasted with the suited & booted CEOs from the financial services industry, TTS was always easily accessible! His prudence and customer focus were imbibed naturally onto many SFians!”

While I have had the pleasure of meeting him once in an official capacity, I have met him multiple times in social events such as Mylapore Festival and would voluntarily go up to shake hands with him (of course pre Covid times), as one among his scores of well-wishers! I hope to get more such opportunities in the seasons to come. I wish him the very best in his post-SF life and am very confident that the new team will commit their best efforts to fill his large shoes!”

His Biggest Contribution
While the numbers do tell a tale and a hugely successful one at that, it was the non numbers part that was his biggest contribution “I made people believe in themselves and instilled in them a sense of confidence that ordinary people without fancy MBA degrees and without flashy English could turn out to be a top performer and achieve extraordinary things.” 

Inculcating the Sundaram Way was a major high for Srinivasaraghavan. Now area heads independently manage thousands of crores of business every year. Over the last decade or so, he repeatedly made the point that the branch heads were like CEOs and that gave each of the heads an amazing feel to go out there and give their best. TTS celebrated the success of the team and people. Having been a sportsman through his teenage years, he understood the importance of team spirit and team bonding “If team succeeds, you succeed” was his philosophy.

Native Wisdom, Clarity of Thought and Sobering Humility
Senior Journalist and one of the most respected TV anchors in the country, Harsha Subramaniam is currently the Head of News Partnerships at Facebook India and has known TTS for close to two decades. After his degree from the Asian School of Journalism, he joined The Hindu Business Line and first met TTS in 2001. Later, over the years, he interviewed him several times as a TV anchor at CNBCTV18 and Bloomberg. He looks back at his interactions with TTS over a long period of time  "What stood out the most for me was his clarity of thought. For instance, he could explain the fall in truck sales and connect it to the broader India economy story of the time."
"Back then, I remember him saying that the Indian truck driver can be trusted and would never default on his loan. This native wisdom combined with a deep understanding of the finance sector, made for fascinating conversations.  I also recall he'd express deep concern around the regulatory environment of the time that struggled to keep pace with the aspirations of the non-banking finance industry."

"At a personal level, what I found endearing about TTS was his sobering humility. He displayed no airs about him and was easily approachable at any point of time."

THE FINAL WORD - A Lifetime Impression as a School Boy
Former Managing Director of SBI P Pradeep Kumar was in the same class as TT Ramesh for six years at MCC School. He looks delightfully back at the school for encouraging diversity and heterogeneity “My appa was a clerk in the Government but the school did not differentiate me from a student who was the son of an industrialist. We were meted out equal treatment.”

For two decades, Pradeep Kumar stayed in a small home on Appar Swamy Koil Street in Mylapore, a couple of hundred yards East of Vivekananda College. He was thick mates with TT during the school days.

He narrates a touching incident from the mid 60s that he says his amma remembered and recollected three decades later “TT Ramesh was from an affluent family but he always conducted himself with all humility. He was a simple and humble fellow. He came home one evening, sat on the floor with us in our small house and had dinner with us.”

That was just one of the two or three occasions that he had been to Appar Swamy Koil street house. Decades later, when his amma wanted to invest her savings, Pradeep suggested Sundaram Finance’s deposit. Talking to this writer from his home in JP Nagar, Bangalore, Pradeep says he was taken aback by his amma’s response “Is that where your old friend is. When I nodded in the affirmative, she said ‘then our money will be safe. Go ahead and deposit.”
He says that she knew nothing of business or investment but TT had touched her in the one hour that he was home in the 60s. “Even as a young school boy, he had created the impression in her that he was a trust worthy human being.”

“It is very rare for a young boy to create that kind of an impression but TT did that. He made an ever lasting impact with his conduct as a school boy and the unshakeable belief in my amma remained all through her life. She was of the view that he would not let another person (depositor/ investor) down.”

Humility @ the Peak of Powers symbolised TTS
His earliest dream was to follow in the footsteps of the Nawab of Pataudi to be one of the best fielders in the covers. Listening to  Brian Johnston  and John Arlott (he used to imitate him in his teenage years so much so that once a English Customer almost fell off his chair listening to TTS's reproduction of  that distinctive voice of Arlott!!!), he truly believed he could become one like them. The successive Republic Day Parades in 1970 and 71 led him to aspire for a service in the Navy. His appa tried to convince him to begin his corporate career in the US. Like his academically inclined brother, he thought he could contribute to the society by teaching young school students. Lord Srinivasa, in whom he has had full faith right from the time he was seven, decided that his role in this life was to anchor a trusted finance firm to its best growth phase in its almost seven decades history. He not only achieved extraordinary numbers but did that without compromising the Sundaram Way and always providing the Sundaram Experience. His only wish when he took over as the MD was to not diminish the great legacy created by his mentors TS Santhanam and GK Raman even by an inch. In his 18 year stint, not only has he protected and preserved that trust but has set benchmark standards for the NBFC sector on just about every parameter.

Humility and Shunning Ostentation have been characteristics that have symbolized TTS right through his life including when he was at the peak of his powers at Sundaram Finance. To him it was always doing the right thing not because it was law but because it was the right thing to do anyway. Remembering the early life message from his amma, he always wanted to do good and reach out to those in need.
SF has become synonymous with Trust and that is something he can feel proud about. He seems to have had this great gift called ‘contentment’.  To be the MD of this great firm was the Pinnacle and he has repeatedly said that there is no greater glory than that.

TTS has always been a great lover of mountains. His one regret in life has been his inability to make time to explore the greatness of India. Sometime in the post Covid era, it is likely he would be sitting in peace watching the unpolluted Ganges somewhere in the foot of the Himalayas and finding calm in the Gurudwara (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar where he has always felt undiluted happiness.