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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.


A.Y.S. Gnanam

"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 son said.

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 grocery shop.

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 Bank.

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 common touch.

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 Vishwaprasadini.

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.

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