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Even at 100, planter Ranganathan is not slowing down

Somehow, this old hand has combined his hectic schedule with charitable work

Planter V Ranganathan turns 100

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V Ranganathan, a friend of mine from my Teluk Intan days in the early 1980s, celebrates his 100th birthday on 12 April.

Many of his age may wish to spend their time in leisurely activities, social work and quality time with family and friends. But not Ranganathan, who still works part-time as a planter – a remarkable feat.

Endowed with good health, Ranganathan has eight children, 16 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. This seasoned planter embraces life with fulfilment, optimism and passion for his work. His work as a planter has been a lifelong labour of love.

Ranganathan beams as he describes his daily routine: “Waking up by seven in the morning, I am in my jeep driving 40km to Mon Repose Estate, located about an hour’s drive from Teluk Intan.

“There, I walk two to three kilometres supervising the harvesting, transporting of the palm oil fruits to the mill and other day-to-day activities such as spraying and weeding.

“By noon, I make the hour-long drive back home to Teluk Intan. It is a daily routine from Monday to Friday.”

Ranganathan arrived in then Malaya when he was just 10 and grew up with his younger siblings – 10 brothers and three sisters. Upon completion of his Senior Cambridge in 1939, he enlisted at the Cicely Group estate hospital as a probationary dresser.

His father passed away when Ranganathan was 22, and the young man then shouldered the responsibility of taking care of his family, continuing even after he married two years later and started his own family.

World War Two and the Japanese occupation of Malaya brought dark clouds and uncertain times. But Ranganathan kept himself busy, looking into the wellbeing of those around him.

His various initiatives did not go unnoticed. The Japanese requested him to accompany them on their visits to other estates.

For cooperating with the Japanese, Ranganathan received a letter threatening harm to him and his family if he did not cease assisting the Japanese.

The Japanese offered him a revolver for his protection, but he politely declined.

In 1954, Ranganathan launched his career as a planter, starting as cadet assistant and working his way up to senior planter. He later managed the Bagan Pasir Estate, on the outskirts of Teluk Intan, before moving to several estates in Negeri Sembilan and Selangor. His last posting before he retired in 1980 was as manager of the Sungai Siput Estate.

Ranganathan was then offered a position as an assistant manager with United Plantations. He later joined the Dutch-owned Mon Repose Estate, a 300-acre property, where he is still manager.

The management of estates has evolved over the years. In the past, there was no shortage of labour. It was also easier to manage an estate as workers were able to effectively receive instructions. So fewer problems or issues arose. 

“Today it is vastly different due to the shortage of labour, which poses major challenges to the industry unless automation in estates is intensified,” Ranganathan says.

According to the veteran planter, certain values and a solid work ethic are crucial. Workers and staff must be fairly paid to ensure daily productivity targets on the estate are met.

Ranganathan holds the distinction of being the oldest living member of the Incorporated Society of Planters (ISP).

The seasoned planter believes the role of the ISP is critical, as it is a conduit for closer collaboration between the planter and the plantation industry.

Planters, he says, should “seize the opportunity” to become  members of this established association. “The contributions of the ISP are crucial in facilitating planters’ upgrade (of) their agricultural knowledge.”

Planter V Ranganathan and family

Carpe diem or seize the day has always been Ranganathan’s motto. Somehow, this old hand has combined his hectic schedule with charitable work. Some of his initiatives have included work for his alma mater, the Anglo-Chinese School in Teluk Intan, the Lower Perak Indian Association, temples and sports associations.

Like any father, Ranganathan is proud that his son Gopala Krishna has followed in his footsteps in the plantation sector and lauds him for being a committed and passionate planter. Father and son frequently exchange ideas on work-related matters.

Ranganathan’s daily routine shows that age has not slowed him down; neither is he about to call it quits. Currently, he lives with his daughter in Teluk Intan. His wife of nearly eight decades, M Pathma, now a nonagenarian, accompanies him everywhere, he fondly mentions.

Ranganathan is grateful to be blessed with good health and the accomplishments of his children. Come what may, the work in the plantation sector still gives him tremendous satisfaction in the sunset of his life.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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Syry Pereira
Syry Pereira
14 Jun 2022 9.31pm

Mr, Ranganathan was a truly dedicated man to his profession. I remember him as an Assistant in Jendarata Estate (UP) Div. 3. My uncles also in the Plantation Sector knew him from his time with NLFCS. Very knowledgeable and good control of the work force. I am now permanently based in Sydney and wish Mr. Ranga good health always.

BK Teh
BK Teh
18 Apr 2022 10.34am

Reading this article especially on planter/plantation brought memories of my own experience working as a conductor/cadet planter after my MCE from 1979 to 1983 at Ayer Kuning Selatan and Beranang. Not many Chinese worked in plantation industry and working in a non European owned estate was tough,without proper amenities, etc., nevertheless there were many happy, sad & unforgettable memories. I left and joined another totally different industry/profession after 1983.

Rozlan
Rozlan
9 Apr 2022 6.09am

What a remarkable man! His dedication is an inspiration to the younger generation.

Suren
Suren
8 Apr 2022 9.00am

Truly remarkable.. he was well known to my family as we grew up in UP Telok (Anson).. May he remain blessed with good health

Manugaran Kumarasamy
Manugaran Kumarasamy
7 Apr 2022 9.29pm

Truely inspiration
I hope our honourable senior could share stay healthy tips !
God Bless You Sir

W Tissa Perera
W Tissa Perera
7 Apr 2022 4.34pm

I remember Mr Ranga as he was my father’s student from the same school where my father was the HM then. Mr Ranga used to visit my dad after his retirement and moved to KL to accept to become HM of a private school known as KRISHAN Dial. If I am not mistaken Mr Ranga was my eldest sister’s class mate in Form v. I was in touch with him after I took up a planting job after graduating from RMC and much later came to Blenheim Estate to have a bash in Cocoa and Coconut before taking the post of Chief Executive of ISP. So Mr.Ranga was no stranger to me. All said about him is typical of him

I wish him all my best wishes and hope to meet up with him soon.

Daud Amatzin
Daud Amatzin
7 Apr 2022 2.56pm

Bravo Planter Syukur Alhamdullilah stay safe and fit cheers cheers cheers. God bless Tuan Ranga.

Sham
Sham
7 Apr 2022 11.31am

Truly a inspiration!

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