India is his strength

India is his strength

SINGAPORE- The desktop calendar in Mr M. Rajaram's office is custom-made. Photos of him with his two grandchildren feature in most of them. It portrays the soft, family side of the 60-year-old lawyer who has carved a name for himself not only in Singapore's legal fraternity but also in the business and social arenas.

He started practice after setting up Raja and Partners in 1981 and later merged his firm with Derrick Ravi and Partners to start Straits Law Practice LLC, with Mr N. Sreenivasan - now a senior counsel.

The company has grown to become one of the bigger medium-sized law firms in Singapore with around 40 lawyers on its rolls. Business has been good with the firm adding four to five lawyers every year.

After Mr Rajaram finished his A- level exams his aim was to to take up law studies but it was not easy. Money was scarce as his father ran a hawker stall. So he joined the Singapore police force.

"Those days not many wanted to join the police. In my batch of 200 there were fewer than 10 Singaporeans, the rest were Malaysians," says Mr Rajaram of his younger days.

He had come to Singapore when he was eight years old from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. His father had moved here during the Second World War period and was already a citizen but the young Rajaram remained a Permanent Resident as getting citizenship was not easy.

Jobs were difficult to come by and he joined the police in 1972 to fund his part-time legal studies. His application for citizenship was rejected after he joined the police force and it was only after he secured a place in the university that he was granted citizenship.

"Securing a citizenship those days was a very difficult process," says the father of three adult sons.

Two of them have taken after him, choosing the legal profession. His eldest son Muralli, 32, works with Straits Law. The second Karthik, 28, is a veterinarian and has his own clinic while the youngest Vikram, 27, recently left the government legal service to join Drew and Napier.

Mr Rajaram may have spent the last 52 years in Singapore but his India connections are strong and it is mostly through his work. He follows Indian political developments closely and during the course of my conversation with him, he explained to me the electoral issues facing the ruling party in Gujarat - something not many Indian nationals here would have been able to do.

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