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Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS

He assembled a galaxy of chemical professors – Dr T R Govindachari, Dr G S Ladha, Dr M Santhappa and Dr K Narayanan - with the business doyen S Narayanaswamy (Chitra & Co) as Chairman, for the Board of Directors of Vanavil Dyes and Chemicals Ltd, a subsidiary of Colour-Chem Ltd. I recall the ride from Chennai to Cuddalore in a bus along with this galaxy to cover an annual general meeting of VDC. There was no dull moment in the six hour trip with each celebrity coming out with a brilliant story now and then!  

In the demise of K R V Subrahmanian (KRVS) who worked for Colour-Chem for 37 years rising to the position of Vice Chairman and Managing Director, the country has lost a multi-faceted, colourful personality.  Colour-Chem was then an associate of Bayer AG and Hoechst AG, the German chemical giants that helped transfer chemical technology from Germany to India.

KRVS, a post-graduate in economics from Madras University, had management education from Urwick Orr and Partners, UK and the Columbia University, USA. He was widely involved in marketing and general management that extended to banking, mutual funds and corporate finance. KRVS headed with distinction the Indian Chemical Manufacturers Association, Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce and was on the Board of several companies.

IE had interacted with KRVS, especially after he expanded operations to the south through Vanavil Dyes and Chemicals. I remember his expressing concern over the race for high pay packets triggered by the financial services sector: “it distorts the entire gamut of employee compensation. After all, there is a limit to the value addition brought about by finance services companies. Look at the exotic wage compensation, of $300,000 p.a, for a chief executive of a financial services company! What is he/she going to produce for this price? Exotic jumps in production and productivity are not possible in manufacturing operations. After all, the financial services sector has to be paid ultimately by the manufacturing sector,” he said in an interview to IE.

KRVS was accessible and had mentored many on vital management functions. IE records its condolence to the family of this accomplished business leader.

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