Wednesday, January 01, 2014

S. Venkiteswaran 1941 - 2013



Venky in Stockbridge May 2013


My dear friend 'Venky' Venkiteswaran died on 21st December 2013 following several years of increasing ill health. His ashes were scattered in the Ganges at Rishikesh by his sons Kumar and Anand on 23rd December and prayer meetings have been being held before his funeral on 1st January.

Venky was an exceptional man; a brilliant advocate who passed early though university and law school and argued his first case before the Supreme Court when he was only 21. Most of his long career was spent in the Commercial Court where he specialised in shipping matters, founding the Chambers which bear his name and training many of India's leading shipping lawyers and judges.

Venky was the best kind of lawyer - a 'consigliere' - who was sought out as much for his worldly counsel as for his legal skills. He acted for many of India's shipowners, transport operators, agents, and port owners and was frequently called upon to advise the Government and the Director-General of Shipping as well as the Indian Register. Venky also headed Pandi Correspondents, set up at the request of three P&I Clubs to advise their Indian and foreign shipowners, and much of his time was spent in dealing with their more complex cases. He maintained exceptionally strong links with the Clubs in London as well as the insurance market. In 2004 his services to the shipping community were acknowledged when he was presented with the Varuna Award. He also acted for the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, and Indian Pilots Guild and defended their pilots in several notable crash investigations. He was even retained by the Indian Wrestlers Association! He served on the boards of the National Stock Exchange, SICIC and Gujarat Adani Port and other commercial organisations.

Venky and me in London May 2009
I first met Venky in 1972 and maintained a close relationship with him and his family - his wife Lakshmi, his sons and their wives Hema and Ranjini and his grandchildren - ever since. We visited several places in India and Europe together and while travelling often enjoyed his fine cooking skills. He attended the weddings of two of my children in Australia and he and Kumar even attended church with me in Litchfield. Fortunately he was well enough in May to visit Stockbridge with some of the family and in July I visited him in Mumbai as one of those helping him gain accession of the Indian Maritime Law organisation which he had founded to membership of the CMI.

Venky was a great friend to many and an exceptionally loving father and grandfather. His death at only only 73 leaves a great void and great sadness.