Kasthuri Sreenivasan (1917-1991) was among India’s most well-known textile technologists and industrial sociologists in the decades that followed the country’s independence. He was born on 12th May, 1917 and spent his formative childhood years in Karadibavi, a hamlet on the outskirts of Coimbatore.
Following an undergraduate degree in Physics from Presidency College, Chennai, he pursued a Masters Programme in Textile Technology at the College of Technology, Manchester, England. He spent eight years in England and came back to India in 1944. He briefly worked with the family-owned textile mill, Kasthuri Mills before he took up the position as Founder Director of South India Textile Research Association (SITRA).
As an institution builder, he fostered an environment of scientific enquiry, applied research and successfully implemented several processes to document quality control in the spinning industry. In time, SITRA also became a comprehensive solutions provider to the Spinning, knitting and power loom sectors. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1969.
The Coimbatore Cancer Foundation was started in 1991, following his battle with cancer. The goal of the foundation is to help alleviate the suffering that comes with cancer and to provide holistic support to patients and their families.
Kasthuri Sreenivasan was a prolific writer and wrote more than 25 books covering various genres such as non-fiction, fiction, short stories, poetry and plays. His work on industrial sociology is still widely read in academic circles. He was among the very few of bilingual writers during his time and authored two books in Tamil. He was also an ambitious translator and undertook the work of Tirukkural, the Sundara Kandam from Kamba Ramayanam and Silappadhikaram.
His wife, Barbara Sreenivasan was an artist and explored the watercolour medium in her work. The idea of building an art gallery and space for fellow artists was a common dream for the couple. During their numerous visits to England, her home country, they made meticulous notes on how the gallery in Coimbatore would take shape.
Kasthuri Sreenivasan was conferred with the Padma Bhushan award, India’s third highest civilian honour, in 1969 for his outstanding contribution to the textile industry and research. He was also conferred the Honor Summus medal by the Watumull Foundation, USA for his pioneering work in industrial sociology.