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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 name.

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 mankind.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Kapruka -
Sri Lanka

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