ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From Amravati to Bhima

Maniam Krishnaswami Sambamurti was Sam to his many colleagues and friends, Sambu to his close family. His life began on the banks of the river Amravati, flowing through the village Kadathur in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, an attachment he carried throughout his life. After receiving his degree in electrical engineering from the College of Engineering in Coimbatore, he joined the Central Waterpower Irrigation and Navigation Commission in 1950. In the decade after Independence he was posted as part of the India Supply Mission in Washington DC, during which time he became friends with a wide range of eminent Indian economists, all of whom rose to positions of distinction in later years – Ashok Mitra, Arun Ghosh, A Vaidyanathan, I G Patel and M Narasimham. Of these friendships, the first three were lifelong while the latter two gradually withered away, much as the economics profession in the country diverged in its views on the economic path to be followed by the country in its search for self-reliant development. Amongst the economists, he also shared a warm relationship of mutual respect with I S Gulati.

His contributions to the growth of the power and energy sector in India are evidenced by the simple fact of the appreciation of his efforts by virtually every major power or energy policy document of the Government of India from the 1960s to the 1990s. He rose through the ranks to ultimately head the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) as chairman, at which stage, to put it in his own words, he was in the “the firing line”.

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