The man who gave instant coffee to India: T S Nagarajan

The man who introduced instant coffee to India: T S Nagarajan

Apart from being a manager, Nagarajan is remembered as one everyone could rely on for investment advice

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

One of India’s top-most corporate leaders who took over management of MNCs in India from the British, T S Nagarajan, former Managing Director at Brooke Bond passed away in Bengaluru on Saturday. Though an engineer, he is known as a master marketing manager. Few know that Nagarajan worked in manufacturing before getting into marketing.

Considered a revolutionary in the world of beverages for bringing to Indian households the concept of instant coffee, Nagarajan has been viewed as a keen observer of everything around him and had a sharp mind for business.

“He was far ahead of his time and understood the need for convenience when people around him laughed at him when he introduced instant coffee,” says Vijay Angadi, managing director of Bengaluru-based firm NovaStar Capital, who has known Nagarajan for over three decades. “When IIMs wanted industry experience, it was people like T S Nagarajan who provided it.”

Those close to him remember how he used his management skills to solve various problems, one of them being working with former prime minister Indira Gandhi on how to solve the foodgrain crisis in India.

Though he was on the advisory board of a number of companies after retiring from Brooke Bond, Nagarajan’s world did not revolve just around management work. His is remembered as a person who was well read with knowledge of spiritual matters like Aurobindo’s ideologies to what is mentioned in the Quran, who took interest in golf, involved with the Aurobindo Ashram.

“A quiet analyser, known as ‘Tiger’, he was never emotional, but a patriot and never had any political affiliations,” points out Angadi.

Apart from being a manager, Nagarajan is remembered as one everyone could rely on for investment advice.

Nagarajan was also an author of various books on marketing, one of them being Ad Ventures, looking at the advertising scene in Chennai and how J. Walter Thompson (JWT) made path-breaking advertisements at a time when marketing was considered a waste of money in Madras. Nagarajan had joined JWT in 1963.

Nagarajan is now survived by his two daughters and wife.