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Academic year 2007-08:
150 year celebration special:
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Life Sketches

SIR M.Ct. Muthiah Chettiar

Life Sketches - Image Not Available The members of the Nagarathat community are generally well-known as enterprising bankers, keen businessmen and generous philanthropists. The late Sir M.Ct.Muthiah Chettiar was an ornament of that community. For nearly twenty years, he strode over the public life of Madras like a colossus and left a lasting impression. Within that short period was crowded much of his public activities. Successes and honorous rained thick upon him.

He came of a wealthy Nagarathar family and was born in 1887. He had his early education in the Pachaiyappa's High School at Chhidambaram where he studied up to the
Matricuation class before he joined the Pudukottah College. Soon after leaving college, he went on a tour to Europe. After his return, he settled down at Kanadukathan to look after the large baning business he inherited from his father. He received practical training in banking under his father and passed through a course of apprenticeship in the Indian Bank, Ltd. Of which his father was one of the foremost promoters. He also made an analytical study of economics under Dr.Gilbert Slater.

About 1912, he migrated to Madras where he was at once recognised as a generous and public spirited young man with a bright future before him. He was a Director of the Indian Bank, Madras, and Presidnet of the South Indian Chamber of Commerce. If today the South Indian Chamber of Commerce is a very influential body, it is in no small measure due to the late Sir Muthiah Chettiar who was its President for oven seven years.

During the last Great War of 1914-1918, he threw himself into its successful prosecution and gave Rs. 70,000 to the War Fund. It was while he was Sheriff that H.R.H. The Prince of Wales visited Madras and he had the hopnour of presenting to His Royal Highness the Presidnecy's address of welcome, enclosed in a magnificient casket. His numerous philanthropic activities including the gift of Rs. 50,000 to the Madras Tuberculosis Fund earned him a knighthood in 1922. He was an elected member of the Madras Legislative Council for several years and also sat in the Central Assembly for a time. He was connected for some time with the Madras Port Trust. These brought him into activer contract with men and affairs of every sphere of national activity, and opened up for him, fields of service where he made effective and useful contributions to public life.

Apart from the banking and commercial world of which he was the ornament for over a decade, he was connected with numerous public institutions of an educational and cultural character. He was a trustee of the Pachaiyappa's Charities and gave freely of his time and guidance to its management. He evinced a keen interest in the management of the Pachaiyappa's High School, Chidambaram, where he had studied up to the Matriculation class. He became a member of the Hindu High School Committee. Years ago when the financial condition of the Sir M.C.t.M.High School, then C.R.C.High School, was very bad, fears were entertained that it might have to be closed. At one time when the payment of teacher's salaries fell into arrears, he donated Rs. 2,000 towards the payment. In May 1929, he signified his consent to take over the management of the school but before he could do so, he passed away. His son Mr. Chidambaram Chettiar, also a member of our Committee, kept the promise made by his father and saved the school. He gave the school a new name Sir M.Ct.Muthiah Chettiar High School after the name of his revered father. To our school, Sir M.Ct.Muthiah Chettiar was contributing annualy a handsome sum to be given as scholarship to the deserving students. His worthy son is still continuing it.

Sir Muthiah Chettiar had a personality, remarkable for its charm. He was polished in the extreme, in word, thought and deed and never expressed himself in harsh language. Well-read that he was, he took immense delight in poring over books in his leisure moments. He was a regular member of the Cosmopolitian Club where he was known to be an amiable, kind-hearted and sincere fgriend and was very much liked for his suavity of manners and cheerful temper. In short, he was well-known as an enterprising banker, a keen businessman, a generous philanthropist and a very polished gentleman of culture.

To the regret of many he passed away on 19th July 1929 at the young age of forty-two, leaving behind, two sons, the elder of whom Mr. M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettiar has inherited his father's genius in full measure and whom God has endowed with everything that makes for happiness in this world.

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