Our Inspiration - M.CT.M.Chidambaram Chettyar

M.Ct.M. Chidambaram Chettyar, in whose name the school has been started to honour and revere his memory, was an outstanding personality with remarkable talents. His multifaceted genius found expression in a variety of pioneering activities, which have contributed to national and social progress in abundant measure.

Born on 2nd August 1908, M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar inherited at the age of 21, not only vast estates of his father, Sir M.Ct. Muthiah Chettyar, but also the sagacity and soundness in progressive business enterprise which has been the distinguishing characteristic of his family. His versatile talents and skills were harnessed at a tender age. He was for years a distinguished member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament, then known as the council of states. He was an active proponent of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. An unostentatious but generous philanthropist, his name had been associated with numerous educational institutions. Widely travelled and well read, he was a person of rare personal charm.

M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar’s greatest contribution was in the field of insurance, banking and industry. He vitalized the United India Life Insurance Company, founded by his distinguished father and expanded this premier institution to countries abroad such as Burma, Ceylon, Indonesia, Malaya, the Philippines and Thailand. He was the first to conceive the idea of a sky-scraper building in the field of insurance in the whole of India, as early as 1951. He was the honorary architect of this imposing landmark, which was to house the headquarters of the United India Insurance Company and other family concerns. This landmark building stands tall, even today, on Anna Salai in Chennai. He salvaged the New Guardian of India Life Insurance Company from total extinction that threatened it. He also founded the United India Fire & General Insurance Company in 1938 and this institution progressively grew in strength.

In 1936, when he was hardly 28 years old, M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar had the foresight to start the first Indian Bank with the avowed objective of doing overseas exchange banking. The establishment of the Indian Overseas Bank Ltd., with its operation in Burma, Ceylon, Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore and Thailand was a remarkable feat of achievements in the face of tremendous odds and paved the way for the establishment of similar institutions by the Government of India. He presided over the destinies of the Indian Overseas Bank Ltd with unique distinction and infused vigour into it. The Bank secured for India a coveted place on the map of international banking in the Far East.

Yet another pioneering feat of M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar was the starting of the Travancore Rayons Ltd., the very first factory in the eastern world for the manufacture of synthetic fibre, and cellulose film popularly known as Trayons ( Rayon), Trayophane (Cellophane).

M.Ct.M Chidambaram Chettyar’s interest embraced a wide field of nation building activities. This is evident form the vibrant interest he had in education. He gave generously his time and money to develop the Sir M.Ct.Muthiah Chettyar High School, Veppery, Chennai, in memory of his father, and later, started the Lady Muthiah Chettyar High School, Veppery, Chennai, for girls in memory of his mother. He also strengthened the network of educational institutions founded by his generous family.

A most promising and dynamic life, which held out immense potential for the advancement of national life in its different aspects, came to a sudden end, during one of his missions to Indonesia for the Indian Overseas Bank Ltd., in a tragic air crash in Singapore on March 13,1954 at the young age of 45. “ Whom the Gods love die young.” In that short span, Sri. M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar travelled widely, always in quest of new horizons and made his impression on a wide circle of friends both in India and abroad, as a person of great dynamism and rare personal charm and as an outstanding leader of men.

It is a matter of sincere gratification that his successors are keeping alive the great and noble traditions laid down by M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar and have founded in his memory the following institutions:
M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar High School Kanadukathan, Tamilnadu
M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar Matriculation School, Chennai, Tamilnadu
M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar International School, Chennai, Tamilnadu
M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar Memorial Boys’ Hostel, Chennai, Tamilnadu
M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar Memorial Hospital, Perumbavoor, Kerala

The Shri M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar Memorial Trust was founded and supported by the corporate bodies belonging to the family for the advancement of learning and research. The Trust Deed provided, amongst others, the endowment of Chairs for specialised studies and research in Universities in India and abroad and generally the promoting of knowledge relating to art, science, industry and technology.

The Trust had made a donation in January of 1957, to the University of Madras, the interest whereon is being utilised for a Chair for Visiting Professorship in subjects of topical interest in various fields. As on date, twenty memorial Lectures have been conducted.

Apart form this, the Trust has been funding and donating sums of monies to promote the cause of education. Some of the projects with the Madras University have been a three year Space Science Research Fellowship in 1977/78/79 and a funding of a Refresher Course for College Teachers handling under-graduate and post-graduate students in 1979.

Earlier, the Trust made a donation in March 1959, to the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, for a Visiting Professorship in the Faculty of Engineering, The Trust created an endowment in the year 1962, for lectures in memory of the anthropologist, the late Prof. Ananthakrishna Iyer. The Trust also awarded a scholarship for advanced studies in Chemical Engineering at The Royal College of Science and Technology, Glasgow and for the students at the London School of Economics, London, U.K.