My Most memorable Deepavali..
When I took over a very sick Sakthi Textiles Ltd,the first co., started by Industrialist Mr.N.Mahalingam as its G.M in 1977..I didn’t quite know the mindboggling sickness that Mills was submerged in.It was a very challenging task as the Bankers SBI had refused any further loan. I was left alone to make this Cancer patient to some how recover…I did all that was humanly possible to revive this unit, that within a matter of 24 months,Sakthi Textiles was flying so high in Yarn Market that Sakthi 60s Combed Yarn dictated the prices in Tirupur Yarn Mkt..All others waited for Sakthi to fix the prices on the monthly Yarn Market Trade…
Here I shd say
1)First I was extremely lucky to have had some amazing Tech staff and dedicated wokers..tho the workers were too many for a mill of 25000 spindles.(2)N.Mahalingam and his son in Law Mr.Krishna Raj Vanavarayar(now he is the Chairman of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan Cbe.)gave me their 100% co-operation in my revival efforts(3)State Bank of India who believed in my revival plans and leant a loan of Rs 30 Lac but for which I wd have been finding it difficult to pay the salry for the workers even(They were not paid their salary for 2 yrs!)…
Thre were 9 Unions with 38 belonging to CPM ,who were the main source of all problems..Nearly 1000 workers belonging to all these unions started believing in my efforts and soon my unbiased approach in daling with erring workers,was much appreciated by one and all..
In 2 years..that is 1979 …Deepavali was in the offing..
All Mills in Tamilnadu and Kerala were to give Bonus by a bonus Formula worked out by SIMA …Sakthi Textiles was destind to give a Bonus of 33% based on that formula for that Deepavali!.That is 4 months salary..The Highest in that entire South India..We had achieved such a profitable position..After my meeting with SIMA officials,a week ahead of Deepavali,I had requested Mr.Vanavarayar to disburse the Bonus as per the formula so that all workers cd happily enjoy that depavali as a special one in their life..
After that meet I was to go to Madras and return for a meet with SBI officials.I returned just 2 days before the Deepavali day.. and my car with Driver Uththamasamy,(he was such a dedicated sincere guard for me all along my innings in Sakthi)was waiting at Coimbatore airport.
While driving direct to Pollachi ,I asked Uththamasamy:
“Yennappa..Bonus ellam Vangittaya?Ellarum Happy thane?”
(Have you received the Bonus?Hope all are very very happy?”)
His reply was so shocking to me..He said
“Illa Sir..Yarum Vangalle!”
(“No Sir..None has received the Bonus!)
I was shocked ..I asked him “why”
He said “None is ‘willing’ to take this Bonus!”
I cdn’t digest this answer..
“what the hell these guys are expecting from me?
Is 33%Bonus not enough..Oh!God!!”
(those days even for a small problem the Mills in Cbe wd go on strike)
That 45 minutes’ drive to the Mills from Airport ,
was one of the longest Journeys I have ever made!
As soon as I entered my cabin,a smiling Spinning Manager Shanmugam and Fin Manager Sabapathy came to see me..I asked them
“why the hell they haven’t recd the Bonus?”I was nervous..
They said.. “The Union Leaders (9 of them)want to see you Sir!”
I asked them to come and wanted them also to be with me..
One by one,including,CPM leader came and greeted me with a smile
(I thought a cunning smile)
I asked them. “Why the hell you havent recd the Bonus?”
They explained patiently How Sakthi Textiles was the First Co., started by Mr.NM and how because of Sakthi Textiles NM became a very big Industrialist..Since 1956dspite whatever they had contributed for Sakthi Group, they had never ever got a Bonus of more than 8.33%..Hence they said
“when you have revived a sick unit and have sanctioned a Bonus of 33%,which is the Highest in the entire South India,all the 1000 workers said.. ‘we will refuse to take this Bonus in the absence of such a great benevolent man like you..we want to take this Bonus Only from ‘ your hands’!And since there is no way we can repay our gratitude we have asked INTUC Union to write this letter on all our behalf to you..Pls accept this!”
They handd over this letter which says they wd never go on stike as long as I am the GM..!
I felt very emotional and started giving the Bonus covers to all of them..
a few of them broke down!
Next day me&my wife had planned to go to Trichy for Deepavali to be with my mother and my elder daughter was just 3 ys Old..I went to Vanavarayar’s cabin to wish him Happy Deepavali(my wife was crrying our second child at that time)when he got up and gave me a cover with Rs10000 and with a handwritten note..me&NM’s family wish a happy Deepavali and God bless you with a Son!”
“Sir I am not eligible fo Bonus?”
(In those days highly paid officers were not eligible..)
He said “I am giving you this..Pls accept..”
I took Uthamasami all the way to have blessings of my mother at Trichy..
She was so happy…as she always expected one constant visitor to her house out of all her 6 Children..me&my wife..
My Mom’s blessings have helped me in a great way in whatever little I have achieved..
but I can never ever forget those 1000 workers..
God was with me I firmly believe!
An unforgettable Deepavli indeed!