Son must not light my pyre: MAM Ramaswamy

His property and shares are being bequeathed to two charities
Chennai: On my death, my son should not light my funeral pyre, declared the world’s biggest racehorse owner, philanthropist, industrialist and educationist, M.A.M. Ramaswamy. Formally disowning M.A.M.R. Muthiah, formerly known as Ayyappan before he was adopted by Ramswamy and his wife Sigappi Achi in 1996.
Mr Ramaswamy said on Tuesday that whatever little property and shares he still owns are being bequeathed to two charities – the Dr M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar of Chettinad Charitable Trust and the Dr M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar Trust.
Declaring total war on ‘Ayyappan’, Dr Ramaswamy recounted how he and his late wife Sigappi had been cheated of all their properties and trusteeships, including control of the Chettinad Cement Corporation, the manufacturing company started by his father and the Chettinad Health City, which Mr Ramaswamy himself founded by selling land around the Chettinad Palace and depositing all the proceeds in the Rajah Muthiah Education and Charitable Trust.
Sitting on a chair on which he said the Duke of Edinburgh had sat when he was an honoured guest at a grand banquet for 150 people at the Chettinad Palace on the bank of the river Adyar, Mr Ramaswamy recounted the horror tale of how he had been cheated by his ‘son’, whom he had adopted without following the mandatory customs of the Nattukottai Nagarathar community and much against the wishes of his relatives.
The pitiable tale of the scion of the Chettinad ‘Rajahs’, who once had 1,00,000 acres of fertile land in Burma, a Chettinad bank with 100 branches and properties all over Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, was told in lurid detail, in public glare.
Today, even Mr Ramaswamy’s medicines don’t come from the Chettinad Health City, which he founded. He buys them himself from the local pharmacy. The retinue of servants at the palace is also being maintained by him from his personal wealth.
India’s turf baron told how he has been rendered ineligible even to use guest houses belonging to the company in Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Mumbai and New Delhi. “I stay in hotels,” Mr Ramaswamy said. drawing attention to the devious lengths his former son has gone to in denying him even the minimum courtesies. Listing all the luxury cars (2 Rolls Royces, two Benz, 2 Audi, etc.) owned now by his former adopted son, Mr Ramaswamy said even his cars had not been spared and had been taken away by the cement company.
Answering a volley of questions patiently for an hour and half in the presence of his cousin A.C. Muthiah, Mr Ramaswamy recounted all the cruelty inflicted on him at the age of 83 by his former adopted son who has foisted cases on him and set goondas upon his servants in the Chettinad Palace. “He has already deprived me a substantial part of my assets and taken control of various companies / trusts / societies by deceitful methods and not stopping with that he has compelled me to face litigation all over the place, leaving no peace of mind to me at this age. Hence there is no question of any rapprochement,” Mr Ramaswamy declared in a formal statement as well, which was released to the media.
While listing a litany of the misdeeds of ‘Ayyappan, Mr Ramaswamy also referred to a deposit of Rs 55 crore he had made in Chettinad Cements for which he has received neither interest nor the principal. “There is no response to the letters written on the topic,” he said. He is emphatic that “he shall not perform any ceremonies or obsequies on my demise.”Describing his grandchildren as angels, Mr Ramaswamy said that ‘Ayyappan had stopped sending them to see their grandfather. Asked about whether he would will any property to them, Mr Ramaswamy said it should be ‘Ayyappan’s concern what properties should go to them “since they are all mine and that of my ancestors.’
Mr Ramaswamy also recounted how ‘Ayyappan’ had not performed the annual rituals in remembrance of his mother Sigappi Achi and hence had not upheld the Nagarathar customs. He accepted that he had “committed a blunder in having adopted such a person and having seen his true colours I was not able to relish even a minute thinking he is my son. Hence I thought it fit to terminate the adoption relationship as in our community the adoption was against mandatory custom”, he said in his statement.
Mr A.C. Muthiah, former chairman of SPIC and related companies, chipped in periodically to substantiate what his cousin was elaborating about how Chettinad Cements was ‘hijacked’ by M.A.M.R. Muthiah. Mr Muthiah will be managing the newly created trusts that will be for health, education and other charitable purposes.
In a parting kick in the statement, Mr Ramswamy declares, “Whatever the law may be, he is no more my son. According to me, he can be only S. Ayyappan and not M.A.M.R. Muthiah.”
Single biggest owner of race horses:
M.A.M. Ramaswamy (born 30 September 1931), India’s turf baron, has been passionate about sports ever since he played tennis and hockey in school and in Vivekananda college. He was president of the Indian Hockey Federation when Indian hockey briefly recaptured its old glory in winning the World Cup in Malaysia in 1975. He was also instrumental in Chennai (Madras) hosting several Davis Cup events, including memorable ties against Australia and Mexico at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Coming into horse racing somewhat late, ‘Ramu’ as he is known in horse racing circles, bought his first horse in partnership with Dr Pratap C. Reddy in the ’60s. He went on to become the single biggest owner of thoroughbreds in the country, owning at one time upto 1,000 racehorses in active training in race courses around the country.
There is probably no prestigious cup his horses have not won in India, and several times over. It was with much fanfare that one of his best horses, ‘Own Opinion’, went to race in the Japan Cup in the ’80s. Although a failure in finishing last of 24 runners in that race, Own Opinion was a groundbreaking Indian racehorse with a wonderful temperament which went on to win the Indian Turf Invitation Cup. Much later, Mr Ramaswamy’s Mystical won a race in Dubai to bring him a rare honour abroad to add to the several Grade 1 races his horse have won over five decades in more than 500 classics.
In the course of the press conference that he addressed at his home in Santome on Tuesday, a question was bound to crop up about his race horses. His eyes lit up as he said, “Yes, racehorse are my passion.” He is a known horse lover who is famous for the splendid maintenance of his racehorses towards which no expense was ever too much. He went on to recount the cruelty his former adopted son had inflicted on horses by building walls in the area around his stud farm in Sholavaram, near Chennai leading to the death of at least one valuable racehorse that ran into a wall.
A walking encyclopaedia on thoroughbreds, Mr Ramaswamy can trace the lineage of any horse several generations back, recounting in detail their performances and their rating, etc. Today, horse racing, in which he takes active interest as owner and Chairman of the Madras Race Club, remains a vital spirit that rejuvenates him even as he fights losing battles on his home front.
( Source : deccan chronicle )
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