Former chief election commissioner T.N. Seshan and Grammy nominee and chairperson of Tandon Capital Associates, Chandrika Tandon, received the first ‘Distinguished alumni award’ of the Madras Christian College Alumni Association on Wednesday.
Accepting the award, Mr. Seshan’s recollections and observations were replete with his characteristic wit. Joining the college was accidental, he said.
“I made the mistake of scoring 150/150 in maths, physics and chemistry,” he said, adding that with those marks he thought he would get an engineering seat easily. “The gentleman who interviewed me for the seat asked in Tamil, ‘Do you know Sivaji Ganesan.’ I answered yes, but in the next question, he failed me,” said Mr. Seshan. He was asked how many movies the actor had starred in. Amid raucous laughter, the former CEC recalled how he rushed to MCC when he did not get an engineering seat. “Interestingly, in those days, you could get a Masters degree for Rs. 30,” he said.
If Mr. Seshan’s joining the college was accidental, Ms. Tandon’s admission came after her first ‘hunger strike’ at home because her mother, she said, had other plans.
It was her grandfather, she said, who was instrumental in getting her into college. “My sister Indra Nooyi, who is also an alumnus of the college, and I would sit on a little brown stool and listen to him read original plays and poems,” she said.
And one poem by Thomas Hardy played like a record every time the ‘turnover specialist,’ as she is known, had to make a crucial decision, including taking up music when she established herself as a businesswoman.
K.K. Mammen, president, MCC Alumni Association, said the ‘Distinguished Alumni Series’ was initiated to honour accomplishments of alumni who included the likes of Malcolm Adiseshiah, Prakash Karat and Prathap Reddy, among others.
On the occasion, Ms. Tandon made a donation of US$ 1 million to the college. Principal, R.W. Alexander Jesudasan, said MCC’s alumni association, set up in 1891, is one of the oldest in the country. The college completed 175 years in 2012.