Rajendran Rajamahendran, Rabindranath Tagore and Robert Frost

By K.Thirukumaran

Rajendran Rajamahendran passed away in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 25. He was born on May 19, 1943.

Who is he? Some outside of Sri Lanka may ponder, especially in all the outpouring tributes he comes across as a remarkable icon, perhaps as a global one for that matter of these times.

Why?

Rajendran Rajamahendran not just lived the ideals of humanism, he proved that it can uplift humanity and serve for its betterment via entrepreneurship.

In making the case for humanism in 1917, Indian ~ Bengali polymath, Nobel laureate Sir Rabindranath Tagore wrote:

“Man’s history is being shaped by the difficulty it encounters. These difficulties have been different in different peoples of the earth and in the manner of our overcoming them lies our distinction.”

The “distinction” that Rajamahendran possessed was to put and practice humanism at the centre of his lofty entrepreneurial goals.

The fact that Rajamahendran practiced humanism as envisioned by Sir Rabindranath Tagore is clearly evident in his business operations. The trajectory Rajamahendran steered his company is noble, though the Capital Maharaja Group has been amidst an environment of every possible calamity on earth, notably since the year 1983.

On July 25th, 1983, thirty eight years ago on the day his passing this year, Rajamahendran was seen in the afternoon standing in front of his establishment at 54 Bankshall Street, seeing it in flames, scorched after being looted.

My enterprising friend Thuraisamy Muraleekaran, classmate from D.S.Senanayake College who operated the electrical hardware stores Doraisons a few doors apart on the same street was also caught in the ensuing Black July 1983 losses to their family establishment, that of the same disastrous fate like Rajamahendran’s. Muralee had interacted with Rajamahendran on trading interests through those years and always found him affable and inspirational. Muralee would see Rajamahendran on Fridays walking barefooted to the Sammangkodu Pillaiyar Temple in the vicinity of Bankshall Street. Muralee says Rajamahendran forever possessed the ardor to vision a homegrown conglomerate that is his grand legacy today. In recent years Muralee has been in the network witnessing how ordinary folks were transformed to successful industrial contractors to motivated corporate executives and staff living their professional aspirations through their affiliations with the Capital Maharaja Group and contributing to the larger economy.

The Capital Maharaja Organization has been praised for their contributions early on for cricket and other philanthropical activities; most notably since the aftermath of 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Yet in the big picture of things Rajamahendran’s humanism infused vision providing lifelong careers to many sits at the pinnacle of his legacy. As Sir Rabindranath Tagore championed a humanism incorporating higher moral power, fellowship and unity, Rajamahendran’s Capital Maharaja Organization exhibited exemplary traits.

Well renowned as a highly remunerating employer, the Maharajas widely hired anyone and everyone qualified for the position. Rajamahendran’s startup flagship media outlets rendered services in three languages.

Bhavanishankar receiving 25 years service award at the Capital Maharaja Organization from Rajamahendran

My friend Nadesalingam Bhavanishankar, classmate from D.S.Senanayake College 1981 batch functioned as a Manager for Capital Maharaja’s Pepsi division for decades. Bhavanishankar displays the good citizenship, corporate values and enthusiasm about his career which can be spotted that they were mentored and reinstated at the Capital Maharaja Organization. He attributes his satisfyingly successful career to the good leader and human being, Rajamahendran. On hearing about Bhavanishankar taking a holiday in Hong Kong, through the Maharaja branch office in that country, Rajamahendran requested the personnel there to provide his staff member from Colombo with several perks during the trip. “Taking excellent care of the people of Maharaja is a familial thing; even after recent retirement, Rajamahendran kept in touch via WhatsApp with me,” Bhavanishankar rejoiced to me recently in cherishing the memories of his Chairman.

Robert Frost, American Poet wrote,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

The entrepreneurial road that Rajendran Rajamahendran took is a less travelled one in the often turmoil stricken home turf. In the aftermath of Black July 1983 he did not leave the shores to another global capital. He went onto energize and elevate Capital Maharaja Organization as a formidable emprise that made a difference, not only to Capital Maharaja Organization; he proved humanism in business can go beyond his enterprise with its unifying principles envisioned by Sir Rabindranath Tagore to benefit the society at large.

In these aspects, Rajendram Rajamahendran is a global icon of these times.