K.V. Raghavan, An institution Builder

K.V. Raghavan, An institution Builder (1923-2010)
Founder Trustee, Agastya International Foundation


Stacks image 42 1Kuppuswamy Vijay Raghavan passed away on June 13, 2010. Among those who entered India’s work force at independence, Shri Raghavan, a product of Rishi Valley School and A.C. Tech, Madras was trained at the Power Gas Corporation, UK. A chemical engineer, he started his career in the Indian Ordnance Factory, Aruvankkadu and moved in the early 1950s to the private sector British firm ICI, where he rose to become the first Indian to head Indian Explosives Limited.

His contribution to India's explosives industry was recognized much later with an award from the Government of India. At the government's prompting he retired from ICI as Managing Director, ACCI, in 1978 to re-join the public sector as Chairman, Engineers India Limited. Following a highly successful four year term at EIL he went to lead India's oldest joint stock company EID Parry as its President, his last full-time executive leadership position in industry. Shri Raghavan left an important mark - as founder, initiator, chairman or director - on several business and social institutions across India, including the Agastya International Foundation, Premier Explosives, Flakt India, Esquire Engineers & Consultants (sub. of Best & Crompton), Raman Paperboards, STP Limited, and the Pitts Modern School.

He served on the Senate of BITS, Pilani, on the Executive Committee of the Bengal Club, as Treasurer of the All India Management Association, and Member of the National Power Panel. Known to business colleagues as "Vijay" or “Raghavan sahib” he inspired people to lead with his distinguished style, independent spirit and sage like wisdom.

As a founder trustee he led the Agastya International Foundation executive committee meetings in the early 2000s. His contributions to Agastya were seminal and many, including the idea of the Kuppam campus and teacher education. He used his goodwill and extensive network to attract senior scientific and educational administrators to Agastya.
 
His humanity, decency and sense of honour will be missed greatly by his family, friends and admirers.

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From Family, Friends & Admirers:

"...He has been a source of inspiration & motivation for me since my childhood. ...He was indeed the banyan tree for the entire family under whose shadow we all grew up. And now its so difficult for me to understand that he is not there any more. ..."

Hari Krishnan P

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"Your strong feelings of attachment and respect and love for your father have come across in your words and actions from the beginning, since I got to know you. His work and inspiration will live on through Agastya and your commitment to it. ... May his soul rest in peace."

Sujatha Ramdorai

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"It was shocking to hear from you this morning about the sudden demise of your dear father. I know how much he was dedicated to promoting the cause of Agastya and I fondly remember the many meetings that he used to conduct to channelise the acrivities of Agastya in the early 2000 yeras. We all would certainly miss him. ...

Rangachari Krishnan

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"I must admit that your father was an inspiration to every one who knew him, and I was blessed to get to know him through you. I actually mentioned him recently when talking about scrupulous honesty in the environment of payoffs that was India in the days when he was a leader of industry. The world will miss him.

"May you and yours pass through this moment of sadness and continue to conduct your lives in the manner that you learned from him. That is the greatest honor you can pay him."

George Romagosa

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"Mr. Raghavan was my favourite boss in ICI India and we have shared many happy occasions together. We came to know each other in 1957 and since then we have had excellent relationship.

"We both feel with you in your sorrow."

P.M. Thampi

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"May I offer my heartfelt condolences on your tragic loss.
I understand how painful the separation is and may I humbly offer any support you may need in this hour of sadness.

"Hastamalaka , a disciple of Shankara declares that we are spiritual beings experiencing the human Form and not the other way round. Sri Raghavan has regained his true Spiritual Form and will surely bless us all in furthering the Noble cause of Agaastya."

Shiv Kumar

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"Somehow, I always felt honored to be in his presence - in many senses. As I reflect on him, I feel his presence acutely - his respectfulness, his calm demeanor, his quiet compassion. I feel privileged to have known him - just as it is a privilege to know you, and Monica and Jeena.

"...I will carry his memory, and our friendship, in my heart. I notice that even as I feel sadness in this news, I feel gladness for having known him, and for counting you as one of my most special friends.

"With ever deeper appreciation for our friendship - I wish you all peace in this time of sorrow and loss."

Peter Patch

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"It is with a deep sense of personal loss and sorrow that I learn of the sad demise of your revered father and my dear and affectionate friend Vijay. I just cannot believe it thought I know it is a reality!

"Your email has flooded my mind with very deep and loving memories of my very close and personal relationship with Vijay and your family since we started knowing and working together in the management movement in Calcutta in early 1970s. ...I can only say that none can replace Vijay for me and I would miss him for the rest of my life.

"I pray to God for the peaceful rest of Vijay's soul in his heavenly abode and to give strength to you and all in your family to withstand this irreparable loss."

Atmaram Saraogi

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"I am one of those privileged people that met your father in life. I know how truthful you are when you said in your email: ....He led a good, inspiring and Honorable life, and was a great friend, advisor, and father to me."

"Your father gave the same outstanding impression to everybody with whom he shook hands. I remember vividly the wonderful person he was. Betty and I pray for her soul and for him resting in peace with God.

"We send you and your family our most heartfelt sympathy. We also pray for you and your entire family to have peace and confidence that your father is next to God's privileged souls."

Betty and Carlos

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"I was a great admirer of [your father's] and had an enormous respect for him and his accomplishments. In fact, he was my very inspiration to become a Chemical Engineer.

"At this time, I am reminded so much of the common associations we shared in Rishi Valley and also visiting him (and you) in Sutton Place & Brooklyn, New York.

"May he rest in peace."

Vinod Raj

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"...He took to Western education, especially in science and technology, in a serious manner, having been a student soon after independence in the field of chemical engineering. I remember the feelings I also had at that time, to break into a new field which was considered as belonging to the West. The idea of industrialization, economic uplift and societal changes based on rational thinking in scientific way, were all common between us. Throughout our lives, we did interact on technical matters, on management, and of course, towards the end, organizing Agastya's activities, which combined our perceptions with creativity, need to involve a larger part of humanity, especially rural folk. ...In addition to all his achievements in ICI, Engineers India, and Parry & Co., his contributions to Agastya stand out. We are all grateful to him for that. ..."

P.K. Iyengar

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"We are so sorry to hear that your father passed away. Our condolences to your entire family. He was a great man - and our parents have always been greater than us. You have certainly been a good son who I am sure he was very proud of. We know he was such an important part of your lives and for your inspiration and work with Agastya. He will live forever in your work and through the eyes of each child whose life can change through you and your important work!"

Sheela Murthy & Vasant Nayak

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"I know how it feels to lose a father. I've now realised that it's something one knows one will have to face someday but one can't accept when it happens. Time is the only healer. The good memories and good words of wisdom that emanate from a great soul like Appa will help us all get through this huge loss. We all held Appa and will continue to hold him in very high esteem."

Devesh

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"I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with him in London and will fondly remember him. He was a dignified, smart and fiercely independent man who always felt that he had led a full life with little to no regrets. Last time I was in b'lore I had a long chat with him about your mom and Appa in one of his private moments with a tear in his eye said that he loved her a lot.

He will be with you all in spirit and continue to guide you and Agastya with his sage like wisdom. Am sure you are feeling down, but you need to be very proud of the fact that you did your dharma till the last day in terms of taking care of him till the end. What more can any son do for his father?"

Guru, Anupama Mahesh and Govind

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"Actually, there is one (other) memory I have, just before leaving for BITS  -- and that's being given, by Mama, a brown, leather-bound book of Chemical Engineering, along with the exhortation that I came from a family of engineers and that I should do the family proud. I feel a strange sense of sorrow that an entire generation is vanishing before our eyes. I guess this is a reminder that we should spare a little more time to those we are still fortunate enough to have around us."

Baradwaj Rangan

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"Please accept my condolences to you and your family. Even though I did not have the honor to have met your dad, I know from all our conversations that he was a great man who has had a great impact on many lives. I know you were very proud of him.  I also know you were close to him and he had been a mentor advisor and motivator to you. I am sorry for your loss. All our thoughts and prayers are with you."

Alok, Majini and family.

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"Thank you for calling me to tell me of your father. I am so sad for you that he has gone- he was one of the last few decent people left in India and probably in this world. I met him and your mother for the first time in my father's house in Calcutta and many times after even before we met at YMCA. I am glad you were all around him (when he passed away). Please convey my sorrow to your sisters."

Gopi Warrier

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"I am very sorry to hear of the death of your father.  Having just lost my father last September, I know what it feels like.  Please know that you are in my thoughts as you deal with his death. "

Van R. Reiner
 
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"My deepest condolences on your Father’s sudden demise. May his soul rest in peace. Read an article about your father in TOI & very inspiring ! We very well know you have been inspired by him all along and will carry on the legacy he created!"

Shiva Narayan

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"Was very sad to hear of your fathers passing away. He clearly led a full life and you should take solace in that. He has left  you with a lovely piece of unfinished work in Agastya and you can continue that in his memory for a long time. Aditi joins me in conveying our condolences to you and the family."

Venky/Aditi

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"Please know that our thoughts are with you and all of your family at this time. It is obvious how well loved he is by you all and what an important place he holds in your lives. It is good you were able to make it back to Bangalore to be with him."

Shay & Evelyn Taylor

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"I have heard so many inspiring stories about your father from friends who were more fortunate to interact with him. I know that his loss would have left a permanent void in you. My heartfelt condolence to you. My prayers for God to be with your family and you and help cope up with the loss of your father. If there is any help that I can be of, please do let me know. "

Senthil Kumar K

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"Very very sorry to hear the sad news. I recall meeting him at Bangalore some years back and I recall how proud he was about how Agastya was shaping up. This is a deep loss and I pray that you will come to terms with it in due course."

Lakshmi Venkatachalam

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"KVR", as I knew him, was chiefly instrumental in influencing my return to India and was my mentor and guide for the ten years I was in Gomia. In later years we were close once again when I was General Manager in Madras and he was head of E I D Parry, both of us living in Boat Club Avenue, and occasionally visiting him in Coonoor. I respected him immensely and I shall miss him equally."

Sekhar Raha

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"So sorry to hear about the demise of Mr. K.V. Raghavan. We all have great memories of working with him and all of us had great admiration for him. Please accept our condolences."

Swarn & Livleen Kahlon

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"My condolences. May his noble soul live in peace."

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

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"Preeti and I were deeply shocked and grieved to hear of the sad demise of your dear father Mr. Raghavan. He was a very noble man with outstanding human qualities. My father and the family had the deepest regard for your father and held him in very high esteem. We remember him from the good old Gomia days. He was the Chief Architect of building up the Gomia Explosives factory and then moving to Kanpur. Whatever he did, he made it a success."

Satish Kapur

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"I missed very much being with you all to participate in the ceremony, but my thoughts were with you. Let us console ourselves that his end was without suffering and he was able to see Ramji and have a smile! We will always remember him for his warmth, his humor, his intellect, his many accomplishments and his leadership of the RSK family. He made all of us proud. Let us pray for his soul to rest in peace and find comfort in the fact that he had a full happy and successful life."

Bali

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"Shocked to learn of Mr Raghavan's demise, Kanchan and I send our heartfelt condolences. To me he was the first Indian senior manager at Gomia and I learnt to admire him and the way he did his job; I think all of us, then young MS, did. I learnt a lot just watching him handle the various situations that cropped up and this came in very useful later on as I progressed from ICI job to job and location to location and then on to other companies."

Dileep Deshpande

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"We are both very sad about the death of your father. We have both lost ours and we know how profoundly it affects you, no matter how old you are. We are however relieved you managed to get back in time to be by his side during his last few days. We met him a few years ago, when he was visiting you in London, and he impressed us as a very special man. We know you were very close to him and he must have been very proud of you. Thank God you spent the last few years of his life in India and he must have loved having you and your family by his side. May he rest in peace and may you find some consolation in the happy memories of the life of such an extraordinary man."

Jan and Ana

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"Please accept my sincere condolences on your recent bereavement. I read the obituary in ToI and feel proud of the heritage you have enjoyed."

Pradip

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"Deeply saddened to hear about your father's demise. He was an honorable man who lived life with his head held high. Our condolences and prayers. "

Manish Gupta

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"The first feeling that came to one's mind, on learning of respected KVR 's demise was that an era had indeed come to an end, he truly represented the grace, dignity, work ethic & role modelling of an extraordinary nature. Always accessible, he & Laxmi Raghavan both were great sources of inspiration to youngsters, starting their careers with ICI. One had the extreme good fortune too to move with the Raghavans in the vibrant social life at Gomia. It was wonderful to have been able to keep up with his inspiring presence, right through his Bangalore years.Sadly missed, he will continue to be an inspiring presence to the generations following".

Krishnan Thyagaraj

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"The  eulogy write-up very well sums up your father's great life, his achievements and accomplishments...He was also a very friendly  and affectionate person - a trait which stood out. May his soul rest in peace."

Ashok

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"I am sorry to know of the demise of your father, who has been a  role model and motivator for you and will continue to be so. In the smile and twinkle of every child that reaps the benefit of your science education initiatives through out the world and particularly in India, you would continue to feel his inspired guidance and presence."

D. Narayana Moorthi

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I came to know of your father's demise through Srihari. Memories of the last 5l years immediately flashed across my mind. He was a great man who had contributed a lot to society. Many who worked for him are very grateful to him for what they are today. He led a great and useful life and as I understand did not suffer much before he passed away. You and your sisters should be very proud of being his children. I pray the Lord to give you all the strength to bear the loss.

I personally am very grateful to Mr Raghavan for whatever he has done to me. I shall carry his memories till the end of my life.

H.K.Seshadri

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I am so sorry for your loss.  I am glad that I could meet your father a few times when we met in Bangalore.  Our family sends its condolences to all of you.  I hope to be in Bangalore in August and see your whole family then.
 
Nishith Acharya

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Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time of loss. Your Father was a source of tremendous inspiration and support and while you will miss his presence, surely his spirit and contribution will live on, always.

Jasmine & Pramod

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I am sorry to hear of your Dad, Mr. Raghavan's passing away - he was a very special person in our lives from day 1 of my marriage when I first met him in Gomia in '63. I still vividly remember him appreciating my playing the Veena in the club in Gomia. We will miss him- we were very keen on meeting him whenever we were in B'lore. We will always have him in our hearts as a special person.

Veda & Srini

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I deeply mourn the demise of your father. He was my godfather in IEL and subsequently in PEL. Due to compelling circumstances, I am not able to attend the ceremony.

S V Kannan

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It is with sadness that I get the news of your dear father's passing away. I know how fond he was of you, and you of him, so this will leave a very large void in your life. A whole chapter has closed, never to open again.

For you Ramji, he was what you say- not just a father, but an advisor and, above all, a good friend. Your lives were even more intertwined, because of Agastya. You will always draw inspiration from him, and know that he will continue to watch over you, as you continue to lead and develop what he started. I knew your father even before I got to know you. Even in his professional life, he stood out as a beacon- representing the highest level a public servant could aspire to.

That all of you were at his bedside at the time of his passing should give you the solace that, as a parent, that was probably his last wish - to be surrounded by his loved ones. Chitra joins me in sending our most sincere condolences to you and the family.

Nanoo Pamnani

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When I last visited Bangalore, I had the pleasure of meeting your father again and was immediately struck by his warmth and friendliness. I admired his great work and contributions to education and his legacy will forever remain with Agastya. I realize that his passing away would be a great loss, especially to you  as I understood from our discussions dating back to Puerto Rico days that you shared a very special bond with your father. My apologies that I can not condone with you in person but would like to at least speak to you.
 
Warren Rangan

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He has been a role model for all of us in the ICI fraternity for over half a century. Rather than offering instant solutions he would make us think and decide for ourselves. Though I have not been in touch with him for many years now - he has and will always be my "mentor" even though he is not physically present any longer.  When faced with a difficult situation and no clear path seen ahead, I used to ( and will continue to ) pose a question to myself - "What would Vijay do in such a situation ?" May his soul rest in peace. 

T. Gangadharan

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I learnt a few days ago, from a friend of mine, who happens to know Tiruvadi that Mr Raghavan passed away recently. I was sorry to hear that. He  believed in living well and with much cheer and hospitality. I do hope he carried on the same way till the end. I have very fond memories of him as we used to do a lot of travel together when I was in EIL.and needless to say, it was always very pleasant and great fun.Please accept my sincere condolences.

Krishnamurthy

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We were sad to hear from Sathyamurthy yesterday that your Father passed away recently. Over the years, I came to know him very well-a distinguished old student of RVs, a wonderful parent who sent his three children to his school, a top corporate leader who steered the destinies of some of the most prestigious companies of India. He will be missed by all of us.

Akka and I send you, Monica, Meera,Tara and the entire family our sincere condolences on your sad loss, which we share. We pray for peace to the departed soul!

Prasad Sir