The Sir Ivan Stedeford Hospital

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The Sir Ivan Stedeford Hospital, Ambattur

From an article by S. Muthiah in The Hindu - November 10th 2003

 

"When the Sir Ivan Stedeford Hospital (SISH) in Ambattur recently celebrated its receiving the ISO 9001 certification, I have no doubt many in the audience - not to mention elsewhere - would have wondered who Sir Ivan, remembered in this Ambattur hospital, was. He certainly was not someone from the days of the Raj. He belonged to that new era in Britain that saw commercial opportunity in India by teaming with Indians. And that was unique thinking for an era long before liberalisation.

The Sir Ivan Stedeford Hospital, Ambattur

 

The joint venture agreement between Ivan Stedeford - chairman of Tube Investments, U.K., and his knighthood still in the future - was signed in 1949 with members of the family whose name is now associated with the Murugappa Group. The group was at the time a small business house manufacturing sandpaper and abrasives for the war effort and buying and selling war surplus. It was the first joint venture agreement to be signed in South India after Independence. By 1951, the TI Cycle factory had come up to Ambattur in what had been a mango grove and manufacture of the `Hercules India' bicycle began, the `India' being dropped from the name by 1954 when international quality standards were met.

That year, Sir Ivan and the Murugappa family agreed on their second joint venture, Tube Products India. This time, the factory came up on what had been the British Government of Malaya's Immigration Camp. By 1956, the new factory was in production and other TI factories began to be established in the Ambattur-Avadi belt leading to a rapid growth of the area. To meet the needs of a growing workforce that was swelling the population of Ambattur-Avadi, TI established the Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar HS School in Ambattur, remembering in its name the man who had initially introduced the partners to each other. The company also helped bring a post office and bank into an area that was still rural. What was, however, badly needed was a hospital. And TI decided to establish it between Ambattur and Avadi.

When Sir Ivan was informed of the plans and, shrewdly, also of the intention to name it after him, he replied, "I'm delighted. And I'll do my bit. It won't be very much. I am not, as many think, a rich man. But I will gladly contribute to the project." And so the hospital received a gift of around 5,000 from him. He also came down to inaugurate it in 1966.

All plans for the hospital were drawn up in consultation with the other Arcot Twin, Sir Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar. His first bit of advice was, "Don't give anything free; it will not be appreciated. Charge four or eight annas for an outpatient and Rs. 3 or Rs. 5 for a bed, and they'll not only pay but also appreciate what you are doing for the area.

 

Today, the Sir Ivan Stedeford Hospital still charges a nominal fee - though it is somewhat higher than that of the 1960s - but it has become a landmark the Ambattur-Avadi area is proud of. It is today a 200-bed multi-speciality general hospital, handling over 1000 outpatients a day and serving 40 villages around Ambattur-Avadi. And with the ISO certification, the founders - all no more - would be delighted, given their obsession with quality 50 years ago."

The Sir Ivan Stedeford Hospital, - another view

 

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  Last modified:
30/09/2005