Women are usually not associated with farm equipment in India, but Mallika Srinivasan, the chairperson of Tractor and Farm Equipment (Tafe), disproves this notion. At 55, she designs and develops farm equipment for Indian farmers. Since joining the company in 1986, a time when the industry was going through a major change, she worked on leading her company to success, making it third largest tractor manufacturing company in the world and the second largest India.


The eldest daughter of industrialist A Sivasailam , Srinivasan has been a high-achiever since her student days. A university gold-medalist in Econometrics, Srinivasan later went to the University of Pennsylvania and was ranked as one of its top 125 most successful alumni. Starting out as a General Manager at her father’s company, she continued to learn and advance the company and made it what it is today.


Mallika Srinivasan in her office Picture Courtesy: The Hindu
Mallika Srinivasan in her office
Picture Courtesy: The Hindu


With new government policies like employment guarantee schemes etc., there is great need for technological help as hiring labours has become more expensive. In an interview with Forbes, however, she revealed that the equipment that work well for the agricultural farms abroad, wouldn’t work in India – “We cannot import technology from the West and hope it will work here. Farm sizes are small. Farming practices are different.” So in order to make the products relevant in India her company worked on their first set of farm equipment designed especially for Indian farmers and their working conditions.


But it’s more than her business success that makes her an icon. Srinivasan is also a philanthropist, who has been supporting organizations like the Sankara Nethralaya and the Cancer Hospital in Chennai, among other social welfare organizations. Srinivasan is also a recipient of many awards and accolades including Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young, the Woman Leader of the Year award by Forbes India and has been ranked second among India’s Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune India.


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