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Updated: January 2, 2013 11:49 IST

Remembering a visionary, not forgetting his many trials

R. Ramabhadran Pillai
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M.K.K. Nair
M.K.K. Nair

The MKK Nair Smrithi Sangam prepares to organise a meeting to commemorate M.K.K.Nair's 92nd birthday.

That the late M.K.K. Nair was a multi-faceted personality whose varied pursuits had helped shape the history of Kerala, especially central Kerala, is rather well known. What is probably forgotten is the trials and tribulations that the veteran civil servant, art-lover, educationist and management expert had to undergo.

Even as the MKK Nair Smrithi Sangam prepares to organise a meeting to commemorate the late visionary’s 92nd birthday on Wednesday, his son Gopinath Krishnan has alleged that two CBI officials involved in framing false charges against his father did so owing to the pressure from political leaders in a casteist society. The mental harassment meted out to his father contributed to the worsening of his health that ultimately claimed his life, he said.

On Wednesday, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi will inaugurate the meeting to commemorate M.K.K. Nair at Changampuzha Park, while K.G. Poulose, former vice chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University, will deliver the commemorative lecture. Senior mediaperson K.M. Roy will preside.

M.K.K. Nair entered the scene at a time when the industrial graph of Kerala showed little signs of progress. People who had seen the rise and fall of the gigantic figure in the industrial, social and cultural arena recall that FACT became a nationally or even internationally known fertilizer unit after he assumed charge.

The senior IAS officer, with stints at the Bhilai steel plant and Central government administration in New Delhi, was primarily responsible for establishing major infrastructure facilities for fertilizer units at Ambalamedu and Udyogamandal. FACT, with its own school and hospital, was one of the first industrial units that Kerala could boast of in the sixties and seventies.

His penchant for art and culture reflected in the formation of a cultural wing at the industrial unit, setting a perfect ground for Kathakali and other art forms to flourish. Hyderali, the legendary singer of Kathakali padams, was invited to become a faculty at the cultural wing. Kalamandalam Embrandiri, Kalamandalam Kesavan and Nambisan were among the other artistes who were given much needed inspiration and help. Performances by artistes of international repute at the FACT auditorium were a common affair. A host of other notable institutions such as Bharaitya Vidya Bhavan, Ernakulam, owes their origin to the man who could be called the Bhishmacharya of industry in Kerala.

His unparalleled management skill and initiative also brought enemies to the fore. They did succeed in getting charges framed against him by the CBI. Amassing wealth disproportionate to his income and misuse of official machinery were the key charges.

The man who was the pillar of the establishment had to retreat, with the Central government transferring him to New Delhi. Later, he was given a suspension order. There was a move to arrest him on his arrival from New Delhi, but a close friend managed to secure a bail on his behalf.

The charge-sheets were subsequently dismissed by two judges of the trial court. Nevertheless, the turn of events had taken a heavy toll on his health and ultimately resulted in his untimely death at the age of 67, a close aide of his told The Hindu.

It was a gratuitous society that threw him away in a bid to settle personal scores, the close aide said. The trade union movement too played an unworthy cause which has never been highlighted and is perhaps little known to the outside world, he added.

Nair had to bow out after the machinations of a political group succeeded in its attempts, a functionary of the MKK Nair Smrithy Sangam said. A political leader wanted a few of his nominees to be recruited in the company. The enmity between the leader and Nair began when the latter failed to toe the former’s line, he said.

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