Tribute: R. N. Ratnam

Senior cost accountant and company secretary, R. N. Ratnam passed away on February 5.

He was a former president of the Madras Management Association, was a leading consultant in the business world, played an active role in Tamil Nadu cricket and was a passionate Carnatic music rasika.

Ratnam studied at P. S. High School, then at St. Joseph’s College in Tiruchi for a year before graduating from Vivekananda College, Chennai. He then did his articleship  at Fraser & Ross following his studies in chartered accountancy.

He was the first Indian chief accountant in an English-owned company – E.I.D. Parry. He played a vital role in the conversion of E.I.D.Parry to an Indian company and that was a time when the government control was much tighter.

He rose to become deputy managing director of E. I. D. Parry. Later, he was with a Hong Kong company. He had moved to Hong Kong in the 1980s. In a corporate case when he had to give evidence, the judge was amazed at his memory of numbers even without the aid of any notepaper, his family recalled.

He was perhaps one of the senior-most chartered accountants in the country when he passed away.

He was a member of the Association of Company Secretaries and served as president of Madras Management Association (MMA). Ratnam served in top positions in other bodies too.

Family members said he was an avid sportsman and played cricket, squash, golf and also rowed.

He was the treasurer of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA).

Said Prabha Sridevan, retired judge of Madras High Court and a niece in a tribute she wrote, “He was devoted to his parents almost bordering on bhakti. We were ten, his sisters’ children and almost all of us have spent a considerable time with mama and mami in the house on Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai. In our minds, mama and mami were inseparable and she did exactly what he wanted unquestioningly. He was a gem of an uncle, a real ratnam.”

Ratnam’s father was U. S. Ramasundaram, Suptg. Engineer, PWD and his mother was Rajam, daughter of the celebrated lawyer T. R. Venkatarama Sastri. ( Ramasundaram is credited with having built 13 aerodromes across south India in about a year’s time in the colonial era as the British prepared for World War II).

He leaves behind wife Sumitra Ratnam, and sisters Sarada Venkataramani, Meenakshi Sivaramakrishnan, Kamala Ratnam and Lakshmi Balasubramanian.

The family’s address: No.8, 5th Street, Dr. Radhakrishnan Road, Mylapore. Phone: 2811 1781.

One Comment on “Tribute: R. N. Ratnam”

  1. It was a pleasure and proud privilege to have known Ratnam sir during his life time. When I was young during my cricket playing days in Madras from afar.
    It was during my stint in Hongkong from 1983 to almost end of 1989 as Chief Manager and later as CEO of Indian Overseas Bank, Hongkong, I came to know of him closely. He was representing a company who had dealings with us.
    He had such an amazing intellect, grasp of the subject, vision and penchant for numbers. A cool and calm thinker and always exceedingly logical and practical. It was always a pleasure to speak to him and I used to really admire him. To be honest, I learnt a lot from him.
    I retired from the bank in early 2000’s and moved to USA, hence I was not in a position to be in personal touch. It is with extreme sadness and nostalgia, I now hear of his passing away. He was a real gentleman. One of the best. My wife Mallika and I also know Mrs. Ratnam, Sumitra an amazingly talented and charming lady always with a smile. Our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to all his near and dear ones. May his soul rest in peace.
    Venkataramani (Babu) and Mallika

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