This year TAFE celebrates its Diamond Jubilee, 60 glorious years of work and a way of life and work that celebrates values and people first.
On a cool morning, December 15, 1960 to be precise, when Mr. S. Anantharamakrishnan announced at a press conference in Chennai, his plans to manufacture tractors and implements at Simpson’s Industrial Estate in collaboration with Massey Ferguson of Toronto it started another Green Revolution – the mechanization of farming in India.
It is only fitting that we pay tribute to S Anantharamakrishnan, fondly called J and to the people who followed him in taking TAFE to its present leadership position through a spotlight series – 6 in all.
It plots the genesis of TAFE – the hard work of men and women of TAFE, the pioneering spirit of J, the gentle giant that A Sivasailam was, the gender bender that Mallika Srinivasan proved to be and the story of cultivating a dream that after 60 years is Cultivating the World.
Chronicle 2: The ‘J’ourney Continues
Alwarkurichi is a small hamlet in the deep south of India, at the foothills of the Western Ghats. A pristine paddy dotted, mountain lined little paradise where the society was predominantly agricultural and the way of life – simple. There were no overt signs that out of this lesser known hamlet would emerge a colossus, who would put South India on the industrial high table of the world. That man was S. Anantharamakrishnan or ‘J’ as he was called fondly later in life. He was like the ‘saaral’.
And like the Saaral, a breezy, gentle, intermittent hide and seek of drizzle and sunshine that is unique to this region, J invigorated, bought newness and freshness to everything he touched. His demeanor with people, his candidness, and his adherence to fair play helped him achieve the heights that he did eventually.
Straddling two Indias
J’s life can be divided into two phases, the initial years with the British at the helm of affairs in corporate India and the post British, the independent India.
It goes to J’s credit that he straddled both these worlds and rose to be a leader, pioneer and an industrial giant.
While his natural flair, straightforwardness and inclusive approach earned the trust of the British businessmen, his rootedness that came from his village heritage made him a role model for all Indians. Now everyone could aspire and dream, J’s own life was proof, he gave that confidence.
J in the first phase of his business life nursed the legacy that the British left in his hands to create, consolidate and build an enduring conglomerate, The Amalgamations Group. Today this group is one of India’s most admired for its consistent adherence to values, the importance of harmonious relationships, inclusiveness and growth which puts fair play, transparency and the good of all at its nucleus and core.
Back to the roots & the green shoots
In the second phase, J’s life completed a cycle when he gave wings to TAFE. Agriculture and farming were an intrinsic part of his childhood and he held farmers close to his heart. His passion for agriculture undoubtedly sprang from his formative years spent in Alwarkurichi.
He had a deep understanding of agriculture’s role as the fulcrum on which a country’s fortunes, livelihood, food security, health and well-being would swing, swivel, and balance as it took strides towards fulfilling its role of cultivating the world. And the TAFE tractors were the vehicles towards this vision.
TAFE’s foundation stone was laid by J in 1960 with a joint venture manufacturing tie-up with the world’s leading Tractor manufacturer Massey Ferguson. And in the span of a year, the first tractor rolled out of TAFE’s Sembium Factory. Today, TAFE has manufacturing bases across the world. Its Dodballapur and Madurai factories are benchmarks for manufacturing processes and practices. The joint venture with Massey Ferguson broke all records for successful partnerships and continues today as TAFE celebrates its 60th Diamond Jubilee year.
A new era unfolds
J was at the helm of TAFE for a short period but he laid the foundation for TAFE, explained its mission and vision and put in place the map for the way forward. He lived to see some of TAFE’s early achievements and he would have been proud of where TAFE stands today. How J’s dreams were given shape, built upon to create a world leader with a global footprint is another riveting story involving the growth architect of TAFE – Mr. A Sivasailam.