The Weekend Leader - The Weekend Leader Awards Celebrates Trailblazers in Education, Science, and Business at Ethiraj College

The Weekend Leader Awards Celebrates Trailblazers in Education, Science, and Business at Ethiraj College



Vol 15 | Issue 11

The Weekend Leader achieved another milestone in its mission to recognise individuals contributing positively to society by conferring Lifetime Achievement awards on two distinguished figures in education and science.

The awards ceremony, held at Chennai’s prestigious Ethiraj College—a pioneering institution dedicated to women’s education founded over 75 years ago by the visionary V L Ethiraj—honoured VIT founder-chancellor Dr. G Viswanathan and Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai, former director of ISRO, with The Weekend Leader Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Justice R Suresh Kumar presents The Weekend Leader Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr G Viswanathan, founder-chancellor, VIT (Photos: Bosco)

The Weekend Leader also recognised excellence in business by awarding K Madhavan, co-founder of the Bengaluru-based Peps mattress, with the Business Luminary Award.

The event was made memorable by Justice R Suresh Kumar of the Madras High Court, who captivated Ethiraj College students with a moving speech about the inspirational paths of Lifetime Achievement awardees Dr. G Viswanathan and Dr. Annadurai.

Justice Kumar offered glowing tributes to their contributions and resilience. He recounted Dr. Viswanathan's rise from a humble agricultural background to establishing a global educational powerhouse.

Founded by Dr. Viswanathan, a two-time parliamentarian and state assembly member, the Vellore Engineering College began its journey in Vellore with a mere 180 students.

Today, it's transformed into VIT University, spread across four campuses in Vellore, Chennai, Bhopal, and Amaravati. The Vellore campus alone has a strength of around 40,000 students.

TWL Assistant Editor, Usha Prasad engaged in a conversation with K Madhavan, co-founder, Peps Mattress

VIT has gained recognition for its consistent record of successful campus placements and its commitment to social responsibility, offering free education to students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Justice Kumar shed light on Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai's humble beginnings, highlighting the challenges his father faced as a primary school teacher who took on tailoring jobs to support his five children.

The children grew up in an environment where they shared textbooks among themselves, passing them down from one sibling to another as they kept moving to the next class in school.

This frugal upbringing laid the foundation for Dr. Annadurai's remarkable career at ISRO, where he became renowned for executing projects with minimal costs.

Justice Kumar noted that Dr. Annadurai and his team finished the Mangalyaan Mars mission on a tight budget of Rs 450 crore, which was way cheaper than NASA's Mars mission at the same time.

He explained that there's a big difference between being frugal and being miserly, and that Dr. Annadurai had demonstrated cost-effectiveness in all his projects.

Justice Kumar emphasised that the achievements of the Lifetime Award winners brought prestige to the award itself more than the other way around.

Dr. G Viswanathan in conversation with senior journalist Divya Chandrababu

Speaking on K Madhavan, who received the Business Luminary Award, he recounted how Madhavan's wife was the catalyst for his entrepreneurial leap at 55.

She had inspired him by saying he was like a banyan tree pruned and kept in a pot, whereas he was destined to grow big with many branches spread far and wide.

Encouraged by her, Madhavan started his business journey with two colleagues, and after 18 years, they have grown Peps into a powerhouse with a turnover of Rs 555 crore.

Justice Kumar encouraged the students by telling them about Muthulakshmi Reddy, the first female doctor in Tamil Nadu.

He recounted how she successfully challenged the norms and secured a medical seat in a college that did not admit women, urging students to draw inspiration from her perseverance and achievements.

Justice R Suresh Kumar and Dr. J Radhakrishnan engrossed in the proceedings 

Dr. J Radhakrishnan, Commissioner of the Greater Chennai Corporation, spoke highly of the awardees and appreciated The Weekend Leader for continuously putting the spotlight on role models for society.

He encouraged students to sharpen their skill sets to remain relevant in a competitive world.

"Things are moving fast, stop being cynical, like many on social media. We are lucky to be alive today," he remarked, reminding us of the many lives lost in disasters like the Tsunami and Covid.

Commending Ethiraj College for its track record of producing achievers across various domains, he advised the students, "If education is your passport, your skills will be your visa to success."

Earlier, during the inaugural ceremony, P C Vinoj Kumar, the Editor of The Weekend Leader, and V M Muralidharan, the Chairman of Ethiraj College, shared their insights with the students. The principal of Ethiraj College, Dr. Uma Gowrie, along with vice-principals Dr. A S Saranya and Dr. M Jeyanthi were also present. – TWL Bureau

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