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Mammen Mappillai passes away

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI March 2. The Chairman and Managing Director of MRF, K.M. Mammen Mappillai, passed away here today. He was 81. Mr. Mammen Mappillai was admitted to a private hospital about 10 days ago.

Born in 1922, to the former Malayala Manorama Chief Editor, the late K.C. Mamman Mappillai, he had his education at the Madras Christian College School and, later, at the Madras Christian College.

Having graduated in Science, his attention turned to balloon making. In 1946, the young entrepreneur opened a small toy balloon-manufacturing unit in a shed at Tiruvottiyur, with very little money and lots of hope and energy. He and his wife, Kunjamma, worked in the factory and he himself took the balloons for sale. The company grew from strength to strength and was registered as a private limited one in 1960. The next year, it became a public limited company and in 1962, entered into an arrangement with a U.S. tyre giant Mansfield, for production of tyres here. MRF became the first tyre firm to export tyres to the U.S. and in 1973, introduced nylon tyres in the Indian market.

In 1987, MRF occupied the first position in the sector in the country and the very next year, it set up the MRF Pace Foundation to help fast bowlers in Indian cricket. In 1973, Mr. Mammen Mappillai, assumed the charge of the company's CMD, following the death of his brother and CMD, K.M. Cherian.

He has received many awards and honours. In 1992, he was awarded the Padmashri, in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

The Madras Management Association's business leadership award, the Ernest and Young prize for contribution to business and industry, were among the other awards that he was honoured with.

He has been the president of the MCC Alumni Association, the Chennai Chapter of the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce, the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce and the Tyre Manufactures Association.

He is survived by wife and children, Vinu Mammen, Arun Mammen and Ramani Joseph. Another son, Ravi Mammen, had died earlier.

The funeral will take place at 5-30 p.m. at the Kilpauk cemetery.

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