METRO PLUS

Soft sponsorship

IN RESPONSE to the article "Support for sport - the tradition continues'' by S. Thyagarajan (Metroplus, April 3), Manuel Aaron, Chennai, writes:

The story is excellent acknowledging and honouring the support extended to sportsmen and sports organisations by many industrial houses at different points of time. In this connection, I would like to add that Ramco Systems had quietly sponsored V. Anand for many years, which ultimately led to his becoming World Chess Champion. Their sponsorship was so soft and so undemanding that Anand never even wore a shirt with the Ramco logo. As a matter of fact, very few know that Anand was sponsored by Ramco. I wish the article had mentioned about Anand and Ramco. Another industrial house, which has supported chess in a big way, is the Sakthi group with Dr. N. Mahalingam as chairman. In fact, Anand achieved his final Grandmaster norm at the Sakthi Finance Grandmaster Tournament in Coimbatore in 1987. Many promising chess players who later made it big such as Raja Ravi Sekhar, S. V. Natarajan, P. Mithrakanth, P. Leelaram, S.Vijayalakshmi and Aarthie Ramaswamy have been financially supported by the Sakthi group when they badly needed it.

You had mentioned about the support of Indian Bank in furthering the cause of sports. I was the first sports recruit by Indian Bank when Rajah Sir Muthiah Chettiar appointed me as an officer of the bank in 1960. Within a year of appointment, I became India's first International Master. The support for chess by this bank is reflected as IMs G. B. Prakash and N. Sudhakar Babu are employed there. Sports in Indian Bank really took off in 1979, when D. V. Sundar became the sports secretary of the bank and was backed by M. Gopalakrishnan. Today, Indian Bank has 50 Internationals from different disciplines in their ranks. I would also like to mention the support given to chess by the management of The Hindu when chess was not as popular as it is now. In the 1950s and 1960s, Kasturi Srinivasan and G. Narasimhan headed the Madras State Chess Association, which is now the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association. For many years, the Kasturi Cup was sponsored as an All India Open Chess Tournament by The Hindu. Also, I recall that when the very first International Chess Match in India was held at Madras between Suren Momo of Mongolia and me in 1960 (which I won), G. Narasimhan hosted a party in honour of the participants on the first floor of Kasturi Buildings. There are men who have helped sports and sportspersons without requiring that their logo be emblazoned on the shirts they wear. It is only right that we should not forget them.