Chennai: Industrialist and philanthropist P Subramanian, popularly known as ‘Gear Man of Coimbatore’, who had a large heart to serve food to thousands of people at affordable rates but shunned publicity, is no more. He died at the age of 78 on Friday after battling illness. Subramanian, the founder of Shanthi Gears and Shanthi Social Services, was considered one of the pioneers in manufacturing gears in the country. Subramanian was to the gears industry, what E Sreedharan was to the Metro Rail.
What, however, endeared Subramanian to the masses – something that is reflected by the outpouring of grief and tributes from all over on Friday – is his philanthropic activities. In 1996, he founded Shanthi Social Services in memory of his wife. Through this he established a hospital and also sold medicines at affordable rates, almost at cost price levels, much before the era of discounts offered by corporate pharmacy chains and online pharma companies.
The Shanthi Social Services canteen was a hit among the people since 2010 as they could have breakfast and other meals for as low as Rs 5 to Rs 25. At least 15,000 customers would be served at the canteen on a daily basis in clean and hygienic surroundings and no compromise on the quality of food served.
What’s more? All these activities went on without many of the beneficiaries even knowing how the benefactor Subramanian looked like in a city where you knew every other industrialist by face. Many got to see his photo only on Friday when he died.