(Last Updated on : 23/08/2012)
Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar was a notable businessman and philanthropist. He possessed high business acumen and pioneered in textiles. He contributed significantly for the overall development of education as he felt that education is an absolute must for all human being that makes them productive.
Early Life of Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar
Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar was born on 6th April 1909 in Kottaiyur; Sivaganga district
of Tamil Nadu
. He took his early education from the SMS Vidyasala in Karaikudi and move Madras for Higher education. There he did his M.A. in Literature from the Presidency College
where he met famous Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
, a great teacher who later on became the Indian President
. Alagappa Chettiar was greatly influenced by him. At the age of 21, he went to London and became the first Indian trainee at the London Chartered bank. After that he attended to the Bar at Middle Temple in England and became a 'Bar-at-Law'. He was given a pilot certificate at Croydon, London for his adventurous nature.
Career of Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar
Alagappa Chettiar started his career as an entrepreneur in textiles industry. In 1937 he established a Textile in Cochin .Later he started Alagappa Textiles at Pudhukaddu near Thirucheur in Kerala
. The township for Cochin textile staff was named as the "Alagappa Nagar". Soon he extended his business in different fields. Alagappa Chettiar started rubber plantations in Malaya, tin mines in Burma, textile mills in Kerala, insurance companies in Kolkata
, hotels in Mumbai
, and theatres in Chennai
and also started with a prosperous stock exchange company and a private airline company. He has been referred to as the business maharaja of South India. He took charge of the Managing responsibilities of "Jupiter general insurance company", "East and west insurance company' and "Rich Hotels". He is served in a Air Transport Company known as "Jupiter Airways"
After receiving great success in business, Alagappa Chettiar changed his focus and started spreading education in different ways. He believed that education is necessary for human being to become creative, wholesome and humanitarian. He has done major contributions for the development of education. He donated one lakh rupees for the establishment and development of the Tamil Department of Travancore University. In 1947 at the Dr. Annie Besant
centenary celebrations Alagappa Chettiar responded the call of the Vice-Chancellor of Madras University called industrialists to start colleges to spread education in India. Alagappa Chettiar set up Alagappa Arts College at Gandhi Maleghai in Karaikudi
. His open handed donations led to the foundation of a chain of educational institutions, which created the basis for the establishment of the Alagappa University in 1985 by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
He persuaded the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to establish a National Research Institutes in the heart of the Alagappa campus at Karaikudi. He donated 300 acres of land and 1.5 million rupees for this campus. He was given the title "Socialistic Capitalist" by the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the then Vice President of India said in his inaugural speech at the opening of the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI): 'The magnificent gift of 300 acres of land 1.5 million of Rupees by Dr. Alagappa Chettiar helped the Government of India to select Karaikudi as the seat of Electro Chemical Research Institute. Being a businessman himself, Dr. Alagappa Chettiar was aware of the industrial possibilities of our country and the need for scientific, technical and technological education in his lifetime.
Social Work by Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar
Alagappa Chettiar also took to different kinds of social work. He gave his own palatial residence in Kottaiyur for the foundation of a women's college. Rajaji has remarked, "Dr. Alagappa Chettiar had given away freely. Students should develop that quality namely giving money earned for charity. Here is a book of life and students can learn from him how one can give to good cause, cultivate courage and emulate the spirit of Dr. Alagappa Chettiar".
Apart from that he donated for several noble causes like- In 1943 he donated Rupees One Lakh for the installation and development of Tamil Department of Travancore University, a higher secondary school at his birth place, Kottaiyur, Tamil Nadu , a ladies' hostel at Vepery, Chennai ,a gift for the development of the township infrastructure of Kottaiyur, a gift for the Meenakshi club at Kandanur, Tamil Nadu , a donation for the H.M.I.S Fund ,Foundation of an engineering college at Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu ,Foundation of a college of technology at Madras University, a donation to establish higher education in Malaysia , a donation to establish the South Indian Educational Society at New Delhi in 1948, a donation to the Lady Deck College at Madurai
, a donation for constructing "Alagappa Mandapam" at Thakkar Baba Vidyalaya in 1946 - the Foundation Stone was laid by Mahatma Gandhi
, a donation for publishing Tamil Kalangiyam ,a donation to the Cochin Cyclone Relief fund , a donation for geological research by the Travancore government ,a donation for establishing a maternity hospital and childcare centre in Cochin, a donation for indigenous medicine research by Ernakulam Maharaja College , a donation to fund students from Cochin to study abroad, Funding the morning food scheme for Cochin children, Establishing the South Indian chamber of commerce in Cochin.
The great personality Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar however, succumbed to his illness at the tender age of 48.
Awards Received by Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar
Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar was awarded a doctoral degree (D. Litt) by Annamalai University in 1943 and an LL.D. by Madras University in 1944.For his great business achievement he was given the 'Knight' title by the British Government in 1945. He also got Knighthood title after independence of India
. The Government of India
conferred him with Padma Bhusan