Ammembal Subba Rao Pai

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Ammembal Subba Rao Pai (1852–1909) was a leading lawyer of Mangalore, India. He was the founder of Canara Bank, now one of India's leading banks, and Canara High School in Mangalore.

Early life and business career[edit]

Born on 19 November 1852, at Mulky near Mangalore, Ammembal Subba Rao Pai underwent early schooling at Government High School, Mangalore, and it was the early demise of his mother that is believed to have profoundly influenced him to take to studies seriously . After passing his F.A Examination, his father sent him to Madras to take up higher studies. Following his graduation from the Presidency College, he joined the Madras Law College. Here he came into contact with Justice Holloway, whose remarkable personality proved to be a rewarding experience to him.

In 1876, following the demise of his father, he returned to Mangalore and successfully practiced Law. It is said that he often attempted to persuade amicable out of court settlements for his clients, although this sometimes cost him his fee. In 1891 four teachers, whom he had met in Madras, approached him with a proposal to start a school in Mangalore. Shortly thereafter in 1894, with a view to encouraging the education of girls he started the Canara Girls High School, indeed an evolutionary step considering the prevalent values and attitude of the people towards women’s education at that time.

Concerned about the high interest rates being charged by moneylenders to the poor people of South Canara, Pai founded the Canara Hindu Permanent Fund Ltd (now Canara Bank) on 1 July 1906, not longer after the formation of Corporation Bank in the same area.[1] Among his important contributions to the GSB community was the setting up of the "Poor Boys Education Fund" under the aegis of Goud Saraswat Brahmin Parishad of which he was one of the founders. Throughout his life Ammembal Subba Rao Pai suffered from severe gout, an affliction to which he finally succumbed on 25 July 1909.

Contribution to Education in Mangalore[edit]

Four young B.A. Graduates viz., Sriyuths U. Srinivas Rao, B. Padmanabha Baliga, B. Vaman Baliga and Arkal Vasudev Rao, when they were at Chennai developed an obsession of starting a school in Mangalore for the benefit of the Goud Saraswath Brahmin community to which they belonged. Most members of that community in the district of Dakshina Kannada at that point of time were uneducated. They were joined by one more teacher A. Padmanabhayya. In June 1891, they hired a building in Mangalore just opposite the Kodialbail Chapel and started the Canara High School as their proprietary concern with the proprietors themselves becoming the first teachers.

There were many opponents to the newly started school who complained to the Education Department that the school had no public support and that it was run by teachers for the sake of jobs. On account of this, in April 1893, the proprietor teachers gave up their proprietorship in favour of a board of Management consisting of reputed people from the community other than the teachers who had started the school. One of the important members of the said board of management was late Ammembal Subba Rao Pai, a reputed lawyer of Mangalore.

In June, 1894, the present Canara Girl’s school started to educate the girls up to 5th Standard. It took more than a quarter century to raise the level of education of girls to higher classes. The 8th standard was introduced in the year 1932. Both these institutions were managed by a single Board of Management till 1922. In that year, the Canara High school Association was started as a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 to take over the management of both these schools.

The institution was started with the purpose of educating the members of the GSB Community, but later attained a secular status and the benefit of education is available to all, regardless of caste, creed or sex.

Educational Institutions started to cater to the needs of the community.[edit]

  1. Canara High School Main (1891)
  2. Canara Girls High School (1894)
  3. Canara High School (Urva) (1944)
  4. Canara Higher Primary School (1947)
  5. Canara Nursery School (1969)
  6. Canara English Higher primary School(1970)
  7. Canara Pre-University College (1972)
  8. Canara College (1973)
  9. Canara Balawadi School (1978)
  10. Canara English Higher Pri.School, Urva(1989)
  11. Canara Nursery School . Urva(1991)
  12. Canara Girls Institute of Food Processing(1998)
  13. Canara Engineering College (2001)
  14. Canara High School (CBSE) (2009)
  15. Canara Montessori (2009)


  1. ^ Budhiraja, S. B.; M. B. Athreya, eds. (2002). Cases In Strategic Management. Tata McGraw-Hill Education. pp. 108–109. ISBN 9780074620977. 

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