Friday, August 17, 2012


Badettu family had substantial interest in Kollam and Alleppey is well known. However what is not known is how Badettu Narnappaya landed in these places and what did he see here for making his fortunes. Whether the hotel business was first started in Kollam or Alleppey is also not known. In all probability the Kollam venture must have been set up first because most responsibility here was vested on Vasudev, the first son of Narnappaya and Alleppey must have been the later initiative to settle other sons. Some consider Kollam venture was started in 1929 while that in Alleppey was established in 1932. Eventually the Kollam establishment located at a prime place called chinnakada was handed over to the sons Vasudev, Padmanabha and Gopalakrishna before the grand old man shifted back to Padubidri to manage the affairs at Badettumane. Alleppey establishment was handed over to Subbraya, Venkatraya and Ananthrama who among themselves managed the business reasonably well.  

The business in Kollam was so lucrative that all the three brothers acquired enough economic strength to buy their own houses and by all accounts thrived well with good standard of living. Under what circumstances the hotel venture got consolidated in the hands of Vasudeva is a matter of speculation and one would be courting controversy if any guess is made on the issue. But both Padmanabha and Gopalakrishna eventually left the  main hotel, starting their own hotel business which however failed to take off due to reasons not very clear. Their properties were sold and both the families moved out of Kollam over a period of time. Full credits to them for managing their own families with scores of children to look after, having no dividends from the main hotel. Probably Vasudeva must have settled their share on terms not known to later generation. Vasudev who had the misfortune of losing his wife during his early years of life, later married Tulasi, a genial and amiable lady from Pavanje, near Udipi. Thanks to God's grace all children of Vasudev are doing well with scores of children and grandchildren to boast of.

It was during the independence struggle that communism raised its head in Kerala and it began as a movement against the Travancore King. The so called left parties like Communist party of India (CPI) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) had considerable followings in Alleppey and Kollam. Their early philosophy was that all those do business are bourgeois, always exploiting the labor. It was later that the main communist party split into two factions, one allied with China and the other one linked to Russia. Kollam was a bastion of RSP and it was the trade union affiliated to RSP which became obstructionist to Kollam Sri Krishna Bhavan by fomenting strikes and sit-in agitation. As the hotel could not be run properly, the management was forced to close it down for some time. In came Mr Lakshminarayanan Potti, popularly called L.N.Potti, to help Vasudev in facing the strike boldly and eventually winning over the trade union. It is another matter that Vasidev not only won his battle against the striking labor but he also got his first son-in-law in Mr L.N.Potti in the process.

Why the Kollam Sri Krishna Bhavan was closed is still a mystery as it was located at a prime location with high business potential. Interestingly those who started hotel business subsequently in that building were able to thrive well for a number of years. Looking back one might wonder whether closing the hotel business was really a desirable thing to do but God knows what were the compulsions for Vasudev to do it at that time. What remains to day in Kollam is just a small property which was acquired by Vasudev and where his grandson and family live to day. Thanks to the blessings of God all later generation members of the Vasudev branch of Badettu family are quite well of with no regrets looking back the the route they all traveled to reach where they are to day. 

A moot question that may haunt the later generation members of Badettu family is whether the two prime business establishments in Kollam and Allepey could have been saved if adequate efforts were made by the 2 gen members to bring in their 3 gen members for help and assistance. Fortunately or unfortunately the eldest sons of all 2 gen members were pushed to educational institutions for becoming professionals as hotel business was not considered suitable for educated people! Vasudev's first son became a chartered accountant of repute, Subbraya's eldest son became a much respected national expert in fisheries, Venkatraya's eldest son became a recognized food technologist, Padmanabha's eldest son became a senior tyre expert and Ananthrama's eldest son rose to be a professor in a renowned University. Would it have made any difference if these senior sons in each family had chosen to become partners in these ventures. God knows!

Answer to the last quiz

The first Badettu family member belonging to 3 gen, who joined Indian Air Force was Mr Mohan Padmanabh, as an aeronautical technician and after working for several years joined the national carrier Air India from where he retired.

Quiz for this issue

Who is the one and only descendant of Badettu family heading to become a western classical music expert soon?