CHENNAI: Renowned politician-turned-educationalist and founder of Jeppiaar Educational Trust Jeppiaar passed away here late on Saturday evening. The 85-year-old was declared brought dead at the Global hospital after he complained for chest congestion.
Jesadimai PangiRaj, better known as Jeppiaar, was born in a Latin Catholic Christian community in Muttom near Nagercoil. Early in his life he was a policeman and rose up the ranks in the State politics despite tremendous odds.
During MG Ramachandran’s regime, he acted as the government whip of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. In addition to having been the secretary of the Chennai district in AIADMK party from 1972 to 1987, he was special envoy to the Chief Minister.
His involvement in the field of technical education found its manifestation in the form of establishing a full-fledged institution named Sathyabama Engineering College in 1988. Six years later, he added the St. Joseph’s College of Engineering and the St. Mary’s School of Management Studies to the bouquet. He also established the Panimalar group of institutions.
Besides, he successfully produced seven Tamil movies, directed one movie in Tamil and featured as the hero in a Tamil flick. Sources close to his family pointed out that MGR has laid the foundation for his empire that now comprises more than a dozen engineering institutions and close to 10 industries. Once his daughter Maria was quoted saying, “Appa was very close to MGR and they shared a close relationship.” In fact, when his children were born, it was MGR who named them.
His institutions were known for strict discipline, which was a big draw for parents. He was seldom seen outside without his trademark black Ray Ban glasses. He was the only non-official member to have occupied the post of chairman of the Madras Water Supply and Sewage Board. He also served as director of Tamil Nadu Fisheries Development Corporation.
He got his bachelors degree in law from Madras University, MA from Mysore University and a Doctorate from Anna University in Water Resource Management. He was the serving president of Tamil Nadu Consortium of Self-financing Engineering Colleges and was fighting against huge disparity in fees collected from students admitted under the management quota and government quota. Only recently, he had a meeting with AICTE Chairman Anil D Sahasrabudde demanding that the Central regulatory body fix the fee for each and every institution.
His Sathyabama University is expected to make history by becoming first university in the country to have sent a nano-satellite into orbit, when Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch it along with 19 other satellites on board PSLV C34 on June 22. The project was said to be very dear to him.