The chairman of the Tamil daily Dina Thanthi, Sivanthi Athithan (76), passed away here on Friday night after a prolonged illness. He was being treated at a hospital here and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had called on him recently.
A multi-faceted personality, Athithan entered journalism in 1957 and took over the management of Dina Thanthi after his father Si Pa Athithanar’s demise. Athithan made a mark in several fields including media business, education and sports.
He graduated from the Presidency College and founded several colleges, including the Athithanar Arts and Science College. A patron of sports, he has served as the president of the Indian Olympic Association. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2008.
Universities including the Madurai Kamaraj University have honoured him with doctorates. In recognition of his contribution to the growth of volleyball in India, he was awarded gold medal by the International Volleyball Federation.
A philanthropist, he renovated the ‘rajagopuram’ of the ancient Shiva temple in Tenkasi.
Expressing grief over his death, Jayalalithaa credited him for the growth in newspaper readership across Tamil Nadu.
Lauding him as a sportsperson as well as an administrator, she also recalled his stint as vice president of the State Sports Development Authority, during her previous term as Chief Minister. Jayalalithaa called Athithan’s death a great loss to the media and sports.
Hailing Athithan as a great humanitarian, MDMK general secretary Vaiko said: “The light of the media world has gone out.”
Tamil eveninger ‘Maalai Malar,’ an FM radio station, ‘Hello FM,’ and the recently launched Tamil news television channel ‘Thanthi TV,’ are part of the Athithan-led media group.
He is survived by wife Malathi, son Bala Subramania Athithan and daughter Anitha Kumaran.
The last rites will be held on Saturday afternoon at the Besant Nagar crematorium. State Ministers B Valarmathi, BV Ramana were among those who paid last respects to him.