Founder of Eagle Diaries, Prathap Singh is no more

MJ Prathap Singh is no more. He passed away last week due to ill health. The Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin said he was saddened to hear about the demise of Eagle Press founder Prathap Singh.

21 Jan 2024 | By Charmiane Alexander

MJ Prathap Singh - 1931 to 2024

The 92-year-old print visionary played an important role in creating a strong foundation for the Indian printing and binding industry. MJ Prathap Singh was a template of simplicity, humility, determination and grit. Under his leadership and visionary thinking, the Eagle Group has been active in various sectors such as printing, publishing, security printing, renewable energy, real estate and defence and aerospace.

MJ Prathap Singh was born in 1931 in Vadakankulam, Tirunelveli district. After his schooling, he got involved in agriculture. He then became a teacher in Vadakankulam and later travelled to Chennai in 1949 to work in a private printing press. In 1954, he started Eagle Press as a "job work printing unit" with a single machine. In the following years, he began producing the famous Eagle Diaries. He got married in 1959 and his wife Poppy Prathap Singh supported him in his printing work. He was among the first to produce very high-quality diaries and notebooks in India. He has been actively involved in exports since the 1980s.

He was said to have run the largest printing press in Asia. His press prepared bank cheques, over and above the manufacture of Eagle diary. In 1975,  MJ Prathap Singh started Poombuhar Pathipagam. The Poombukar Publishing House first published the book Kamarajar Oru Sarithram written by Murugesh Dhanushkodi. He published copies of Thirukural with Puliyur Kesigan - and it was called the Thirukural New Text. Several hundred thousand copies of it were sold. Poombuhar Pathipagam has published books on over 1,300 topics. Three books published by the publishing house have won the Sahitya Akademi Award.

Naren Mariappan Pillai, director and publisher, Raaseevam International shared a message with PrintWeek. He said, "I am in a state of shock to hear about the loss of Prathap Singh. He will be remembered as the senior-most person of the diary business in India. His passion for diaries and book finishing is well known." 

Pillai added, "I remember seeing him at the office on various occasions. He always had a smiling face when we went to meet him; he would inquire about the family. He had a keen eye for diary finishing and my father (Senior Pillai) and Prathap Singh have had long interactions before the installation of their Kolbus full hard cover line in 2012."

 MJ Prathap Singh is said to have managed one of the largest printing presses in Asia

Pillai said, "In recent days, I have learnt from Joseph Abhishek of Eagle Diaries about Prathap Singh that the best compliment or gift a person would happily receive is a diary."  Prathap Singh used to say, "A good diary is the best way to touch someone's heart."

A note, which the family shared with PrintWeek, stated, "Prathap Singh was involved in philanthropic activities. His attention to detail was special and his focus on quality is well known." He strived to continuously improve on production and quality.

His daughter Sheela Sathyakumar and her husband Dr TPD Sathyakumar run Sugam Hospital in Thiruvottiyur and Chromepet. MJ Prathap Singh was laid to rest at CSI St George's Cathedral Church, Gopalapuram, Chennai.

At PrintWeek, he will be remembered as a visionary and entrepreneur; a philanthropist; and a mentor and professional friend by many in India.