CHENNAI: Founder chairman of Microcredit Foundation of India and former chairman of the Bank of Madura K.M. Thiagarajan died here on Thursday. He was 62.
Born into the illustrious Karumuthu Thiagaraja Chettiar family in Madurai, he completed his MBA and Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh. After his studies, he joined the Graduate School of Management, University of Rochester, as an Assistant Professor.
On his return to India, he was a management trainer and consultant to several leading companies, including IBM India, the State Bank of India, and the State-owned Indian Oil Corporation. He also conducted executive training programmes in the U.S., Norway, Iran and Japan.
In 1973, he joined the family business of textiles and became the Managing Director of Loyal Textile Mills Limited. Until 1993, he also served as director on the boards of several other companies.
In 1993, he took charge of the Bank of Madura and became its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He remained at the helm of affairs until the bank was merged with ICICI Bank in 2001. As Chairman of the bank, he initiated a large scale micro-credit programme through the formation of self-help groups. This programme was further expanded by ICICI Bank after the merger.
His interest in micro-credit led to the formation of the Microcredit Foundation of India in 2003. A non-profit organisation, the Foundation took over the management of the programme, which covers 14,000 groups with 2.8 lakh members spread across Tamil Nadu.
Relatives and friends of Mr. Thiagarajan recalled his varied interests from sculpture to literature. An amateur sculptor himself, he loved travelling and interacting with tribal artists. Many of his works are displayed in different parts of the country. In recent past, he was involved in the development of an organic farm near Chennai.
Mr. Thiagarajan, they said, enjoyed discussing at length Tamil literary masterpieces, particularly Silappadhikaram, with like-minded people. An affable personality, he cared for friends and always found time for everyone. His brother Manickam Ramaswamy said he never allowed his illness to come in the way of his artistic pursuits.
Mr. Thiagarajan was ailing for some time. He is survived by his wife Deborah Thiagarajan and three daughters.