C. R. Swaminathan: A Popular Personality of Yonder Era

C. R. Swaminathan was the ninth child of R. R. Naidu (R. Ramaswamy) and Lakshmi Ammal of Ganapathypalayam near Udumalpet. His mother, Lakshmi Ammal, was the first daughter of Diwan Bahadur P. S. G. Rangaswamy Naidu. R. R. Naidu was known to be a multi-faceted person and he had possessed a lot of knowledge connected with gemstones. His house on Trichy Road stretches within a huge compound premises. Mahatma Gandhi had planted a jamun tree in this premises on 7/2/1934. This tree continues to be revered by the people of Coimbatore.

R. R. Naidu had done a lot of research regarding his ancestry. He was known to belong to the Cherukuriyar Kulam among the Kammas. He went back and discovered that the family name was Cherukury. His uncles, G. T. Venkataswamy Naidu, G. T. Narayanaswamy Naidu, and G. T. Krishnaswamy Naidu, were the founders of Palani Andavar Mills Limited in Udumalpet. R. R. Naidu and Lakshmi Ammal had been blessed with Ramanathan, Ranganathan, Vimala (Seethalakshmi), Viswanathan, Kamala, Jagannathan, Lalitha, Gopinathan, and Swaminathan.

Swaminathan had grown up amongst his large family and had cherished the joint family system from his childhood days. Most of us remember him promptly reporting to work by 8 am at the P. S. G. Industrial Institute. He had served the P. S. G. Institutions for about 40 years and retired as the Chief Executive. I remember meeting him often and getting college admissions for my family members. He would somehow accommodate all my requests. His memory was prodigious and would remember thousands of people with effortless ease.

On completing my education, I joined business but the contact with C. R. Swaminathan (C. R. S.) continued. Organizations like Siruthuli and R. A. A. C. (Residence Awareness Association of Coimbatore) were fortunate to get his inputs. He would often offer auditoriums, manpower, and machineries for public causes. I still remember the first Coimbatore based quiz that was held at P. S. G. Institute of Medical Sciences Auditorium. It was thanks to the support of C. R. Swaminathan. “No” was never an answer with him, for he would somehow accommodate every request placed by people around him.

We would often rush to him and seek his help. C. R. S. would make calls from his office. He would at times be using two landlines and one mobile simultaneously and would get things done for the city. Hard work was his motto and he had given his life for the cause of education. C. R. S. had been a part of numerous organizations and his circle of friends included a wide cross-section of the society. Students, academicians, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, leaders, journalists, musicians, etc., were among his wide circles. He was the centre of gravity for several organizations and people. In short, he functioned as the gravitational force which kept several constituents of the Coimbatore Region in sync with each other. In fact, everyone understands that the force of gravity is felt and not seen. Similarly, the presence of Swaminathan was always felt by everyone. His passing away recently has left a void in the society. A void which will be difficult to fill.

From public speakers to scientists, he knew them all. C. R. S. would suggest that we engage with a variety of people to harvest the best for ourselves. He would closely follow my essays and would give a lot of inputs. His criticism would be constructive, and I would be amazed to learn that he was responsible for making several people read my works. He wanted a few of us to start a magazine which would put good things together.

I still remember his 60th birthday when his wife, Sukanya and himself were adorned with nice vegetable garlands by Vanitha Mohan (Founder & Managing Trustee, Siruthuli) and Vijay Mohan (Founder, Pricol Limited). Sukanya Swaminathan happens to be the daughter of Vimala and Varadarajan of the P. S. G. Family. C. R. S. was happy to show off the pictures of all his nephews, nieces, grandnephews, grandnieces, and other family members during his 60th birthday celebrations. His 70th birthday was another occasion to celebrate, and I remember meeting numerous people on that day.

The inputs from C. R. S. enriched numerous organizations and a few of them are C. I. I., CODDISIA, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. C. R. S. could immediately give a wish-list for every sector connected with Coimbatore. He had a vision for the city. This vision furthered itself into a larger vision which encompassed the Kongu region. He believed in self-reliance and was keen to offer his inputs to numerous educational institutions and corporates. C. R. S. was an advisor and an independent director in quite a few companies. His knowledge and exposure to various subjects were extremely useful for every person and organization connected with him.

The best tribute to C. R. S. would be to ensure that his wish for the city gets fulfilled by ensuring that the interest of everyone is woven together. Perhaps, a policy research centre could be named after him.

Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of the Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city.


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