Legendary Gnanam no more
COLOMBO: Arulanantham Yesuwadiyan Samuel Gnanam well known as
A.Y.S. Gnanam died at the age of 84 after a brief illness at the Mount
Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore on Tuesday.
A.Y.S. Gnanam was one of the foremost self-made industrialists in Sri
Lanka and was the Chairman of more than ten business and industrial
establishments including the Express Newspapers Ltd,the organisation
which prints the leading Tamil Newspaper, Veerakesari.
"My father was concentrating more on his work even when he had fallen
sick and was flown to Singapore for treatment.
He was a workaholic and that was the secret behind his success," his
Born in South India in 1922, Gnanam arrived in Sri Lanka at the age
of nine and along with his brother he was helping his father who had a
It was after the Second World War at a very tender age Gnanam began
his trade in dealing with steel.
He was purchasing the steel which were used as military hardware and
sending it to India.
When the post-war re-construction activities were in progress Gnanam
was gradually establishing his business empire with the founding of his
St. Anthony's Hardware shop in the mid-forties and became one of the
leading importers of building materials from India.
"Believe in God, build up the self confidence and work hard to
achieve your ends", was the advice often uttered to his employees by
Gnanam whenever he met them at his business establishments.
Being an `emperor' of a mega industrial empire with more than ten
multi- national establishments he was very down-to-earth not forgetting
his humble beginning. Without proper schooling or the backing of his
family members, it was with hard work, honesty and the faith in God
A.Y.S. Gnanam became a tycoon with his name being mentioned in the mega
monetary institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development
He was also a well-known philanthropist, granting financial
assistance to several schools, hospitals and orphanages islandwide.
Leaving no room for petty political, racial and religious differences
Gnanam, gave employment opportunities to more than eight thousand people
from all parts of Sri Lanka in his business establishments.
He dined and laughed with the most powerful ones without losing the
In respect of his hard work, dedication and the integrity he has the
rare privilege of being honoured with three prestigious national titles.
A.Y.S. Gnanam was awarded the Deshabandu in 1986. In 1994 he was
awarded with the Deshamanya and in 1996 he was honoured with
His remains are lying at his residence at No: 31, Collingwood Place,
Colombo 6. The cortege will leave the residence tomorrow at 10 a.m. for
burial at the Anglican Section, General Cemetery, Kanatte, Borella.