Ever since he has become the face of Indian cricket Narayanaswami Srinivasan has been one of the most polarising figure in the world game for a variety of reasons- not least his penchant for displaying a blatant use of power when he has repeatedly bulldozed the ICC into seeing things the way he and the BCCI wants them to. In addition to that, his position as the chief of the BCCI looked shaky over the past few days but in a show of immense mental strength, Mr. Srinivasan quashed the whole media frenzy and announced firmly that he was not going to resign.
The Early Years
However, very few people about the man other than the fact that he is the Vice Chairman and Managing Director at India Cements, a company owned by his family. The company was established a year before India’s independence in 1946 and although it is a publicly listed company the controlling shares still belong to the family. He holds a bachelor’s degree in science from Madras University and Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology- the latter being intimately related to the cement producing business.
Making of A Cement Giant
Srinivasan made his name as a business head who established the middle rung cement producers India Cements into one of the biggest in the country. When he joined the company it was going through a rough patch and his first major management decision worked wonder for the company when he engineered a hostile takeover of the ailing Rasai Cement company which increased the production capabilities of India cements considerably. The ones who are close to him describe as a snarling fighter who does not give an inch to anyone and would use every known trick in human memory to win. Srinivasan is a man who knows how to win and thus far he has succeeded in defeating his opponents in most of the battles in which he has been engaged in. He is a street fighter extraordinaire and he once told one of the journalists at Forbes- “I don’t go looking for fights. Fights come looking for me.” However, when he is engaged in a fight he makes sure that at the end of it all he is the one who is standing on his feet. No wonder his favourite novel is The Godfather. It is often said that it is a cardinal sin to be i Srinivasan’s bad books without enough ammunition and Lalit Modi would surely testify to that fact. However, one thing that cannot be missed is that the man gives nothing away by way of his personal demeanour and the only thing that one can see is the steely gaze for both friends and foes.
The Cricket Administrator
His company has had a close association in cricket for many years and some of the cricketers from Tamil Nadu have also been employed by his company since the 1990s when cricketers were not as handsomely paid as they are now. India Cements also supports numerous leagues in Chennai. This association with cricket made him into a cricket administrator and his first position of relevance in cricket administration was that of the Vice President of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association in 1998. Since then he has gone from strength to strength as his reputation grew. You might see a lot of bad press that Srinivasan has got over the past few years due to his involvement with Chennai Super Kings even though he was the treasurer of the BCCI at the time but truth be told; he affected many positive changes during his stint at the higher echelons of the TNCA- not least a cricket academy that he established which nurtures the promising cricketers of the state of Tamil Nadu.
The Man Behind Closed Doors
As he mentioned in his press conference ahead of the IPL final in Kolkata he is a ‘reasonably private person’ and much of his private life is under wraps. The son-in-law Gurunath Meriyappan who is the eye of the storm at the moment was not someone he wanted to become a part of his family because he was not of the same caste as his family. Gurunath belongs to the Chettiyar (trading) community and Srinivasan is a Brahmin, which created a lot of tension in the family. His estranged son Ashwin has even stated that his father used to abuse the Meriyappan family every night after having a few drinks of Scotch.
So, as you can see Srinivasan is a complex man with a mind which is as sharp as a razor but how far it will help him in leaving behind a legacy once he completes his tenure as the BCCI President in September is something that only time will tell. Interestingly, in an interview with Economic Times a few months back he has already stated that he does not want to run for re-election. Now that’s what you call a bit Machiavellian.
Image Source : IANS