A.Y.S.Gnanam- A true Sri Lankan
Last Tuesday, the country recorded the death of a self-made legend in
the business sector. He was a giant though small in physique. This man, Arulanandam Yesuvadiyan Samuel Gnanam(84), born in India arrived in Sri
Lanka when he was nine. Sri Lanka soon became the homeland of this
legendary businessman who became a true Sri Lankan. As a businessman, he
stood above politics and concentrated more on expanding his business. He
successfully managed over ten institutions that came under his wings.
Hard work, dedication and commitment was the hallmark of his success
journey. Starting to deal with steel business at a tender age, when the
Second World War just finished, Gnanam worked day in and day out to make
that venture a success. A workoholic who was at work as early as six in
the morning, Gnanam was an active business player in the post- world war
reconstruction activity. His belief in Christianity and self confidence
helped him to establish the St.Anthony's Group of Companies.
Gnanam was a man who valued humanity.He treated all races alike.He
saw no difference in what was called the majority and the minority. It
is amply testified by the number of Sinhalese employed in his business
conglomerate. Unfortunately, in 1983, extremists on rampage during the
communal violence did not spare this man who did so much for all
communities. His business establishments were set on blaze. That did not
deter him. He was a courageous man. He had no enmity, animosity or
hatred towards the perpetrators.Gnanam had to start from almost scratch
again to rebuild his empire. This he did with commitment. He succeeded.
The number of Sinhala employees under him increased. That was why, he
looked a rare specimen who valued humanity above all other things.
Gnanam always believed he had a past. His humble beginings were
carved in his mind. Such noble qualities paved the way for many humble
men to seek his assistance to make a living. The country was proud of
this small made business tycoon when his name surfaced in mega monetary
institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Also, this man was a silent philanthropist who assisted schools,
hospitals, orphanages and the needy people. All such meritorious acts
had his name written across the globe while Gnanam became a household
He was a man who continued life with the common touch though he was
close to the affluent and the powerful. His integrity and honesty stood
at the highest degree which was unparalelled and unmatchable. That was
why he was bestowed with three national titles.
Though Gnanam is no more, he has left a family of value to continue
his legacy. I had the fortune of studying with his son, Rajaseelan, the
incumbent Chief of Tokyo Cement Ltd, a subsidiary of Gnanam's Group, at
the school by the sea at Mt.Lavinia. Rajaseelan resembles the grand old
man. And his father has entrusted much on him. Gnanam was not only a
father to his family but, also to his employees. A.Y.S.Gnanam will be
long remembered for his outstanding service to humanity. May the Angels
sing in praise of this true Sri Lankan business tycoon who helped