Seniors who inspire... and how!
Talking about people who inspire others, I know of quite a few. None probably more inspiring than S. Muthiah, senior journalist, author, teacher and, of course, ‘Madras historian’. He is well past 75. Editor of Madras Musings, his baby, he runs a weekly column in The Hindu Metro Plus called Madras Miscellany, highly regarded for the quality of its inputs. He is now the honorary dean of the SRM School of Journalism & Mass Communication. He is on two books projects now, apart from being in the final stages of completing the three-volume Madras Gazetteer. He directs the activities of the Madras Book Club, finds time to attend Public Relations Society of India meetings, British Council meetings…. Well, I could go on and on. Mr Muthiah is, of course, well known in the community, highly respected.
I have met several unknown or not so well known heroes, especially while writing a weekly column for a neighbourhood paper. One such was C. Ramamoorthy, well past 80, who has been president of the Saligramam North Residents Welfare Association the past 22 years. Formed in 1978, the Association has a hundred members covering ten streets. Under Ramamoorthy’s leadership, civic amenities in the area have improved over the years. Sewerage pipelines were laid in 1993. The Corporation installed streetlights in 1999. Roads were re-laid in 2001. Thanks to his leadership, regular meetings between residents and police from the Virugambakkam Police Station are held. Ramamoorthy says that Rs. 10 lakh was sanctioned for a park near the Sankara Narayana Temple on Navalar Street but work is yet to commence. He hopes that the park will be ready by March-April.
Born in Lalgudi, near Tiruchy, Ramamoorthy, second of five children, studied at the Ramakrishna Mission High School, T. Nagar. His father, L.R. Chandrasekhar, was headmaster of the Sir Thyagaraya Chetty High School, Washermanpet. After S.S.L.C., Ramamoorthy joined Pachayappa’s College to pursue a B.Sc degree with chemistry as the main subject. He remembers receiving prizes from the principal Dr. B.V. Narayanaswamy Naidu for standing first in the intermediate exam. A year after graduating in 1945, he passed the Public Service Commission exam and joined the Board of Revenue attached to the Madras Presidency as clerk. For a year (1949), he was sent to Bazwada as revenue inspector. He returned as upper division clerk in the Commercial Taxes Department and was promoted as assistant commercial tax officer in 1958. When the department was made independent, he was posted to Tiruchy where he became commercial tax officer in 1979. On October 31, 1984, he retired, the day former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. He moved to his home in Saligramam and took to social work.
“You should have a sense of commitment. In this age of globalisation and privatisation, we lack ‘humanisation’; human values have been eroded by violence and terrorism,” he bemoans. How true!