Valli Arunachalam Challenges Patriarchy, Sends Legal Notice to Murugappa Family on Being Denied Board Seat

Photo of  Valli Arunachalam.

Photo of Valli Arunachalam.

The family’s tactics are nothing more than a robe to conceal their socially regressive gender bias, Arunachalam said.

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Poornima Murali

Valli Arunachalam, the Murugappa group heir who has been questioning traditions in inheriting positions in the family business- Ambadi Investments Ltd on Thursday has issued a legal notice to family members in the ongoing feud over getting her late father’s board seat.

The family’s tactics are nothing more than a robe to conceal their socially regressive gender bias, Arunachalam said. “We issued legal notices to the Murugappa family members, Ambadi Investments Ltd. (“AIL” or the “Company”) management, the Company and other people in relation thereto. It was a big step for us and a very unfortunate one, as we have worked tirelessly over the course of the last three years to bring about an amicable settlement of my father’s interests in AIL. With the family voting unanimously to reject my appointment to the AIL board, we have seemingly reached the end of the road for an amicable settlement,” she said in an official statement.

She also highlighted the fact that her attempt is to change Murugappa’s age-old practice of not inducting women into its board. “With only female heirs, the historically male-dominated family business is effectively asking that my family assume a second class standing in AIL without any of the rights or privileges enjoyed by other families (many of whom have equal economic interests),” she added.

Valli, the great-granddaughter of Murugappa Group founder Dewan Bahadur A M Murugappa Chettiar, second-cousin to Murugappa Group executive chairman MM Murugappan, and cousin to former executive chairman A Vellayan, was recently voted to be kept out of the board of the holding company. She blamed deep-rooted patriarchy for the decision.

“What is most hurtful is that despite my father’s lifetime of dedicated service to the family and business, no other family branch, all of whom are shareholders in the Company, has come forward to support us. Instead, they have been united in casting us out as pariahs for daring to challenge the family’s male-only business hierarchy,” Arunachalam added in her statement.

However, she signed off by stating that she has complete faith in the judiciary and is confident that justice will prevail in her case.

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