|14% population of Tamil Nadu|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Madurai, Sivagangai, Salem, Pudukkottai, Theni, Coimbatore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Chennai, Tiruvannamalai, Thiruppur, Trichy, Vellore, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Karur, Namakkal, Dindigul Districts, Aruppukkottai, Paramakudi, Karaikkudi|
The term Chettiar or Chetty is a title used by various mercantile castes in South India, especially in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Tamil Nadu, 14% of the population is Chettiar. "Chetty" derives from the Sanskrit word "Shreshti" meaning "wealth", and is related to other castes in India like, "Setji" of the Marwaris of Rajastan, "Sethi" or "Seth" of Punjab, and "Shetty" or "Setty" of Karnataka all of which are mercantile castes with variations of the same root word.
Time was when one-third of all rice fields in Myanmar (then Burma) belonged to them. From salt trading centuries ago to long-distance merchant banking for European traders in the early 19th century, this small enterprising tribe fired the economies of Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Ceylon. The Chettiar claim a legendary relationship with the Hindu god Murugan (also called Subramaniam).
Chettiar communities claim the Vaishya (merchant) varna within Hindu society. The Nattukottai Chettiar are elite bankers. The Vaniya Chettiars are known for running oil mills and selling groceries (food grains). The Chettiars are considered to be among the pioneers of organised banking in the country. They are also credited with introducing the concept of double entry bookkeeping, 'Pattru Varavu' in Tamil, commonly known as debit and credit. This community from the south of Tamil Nadu has left a silent signature on everything from manufacturing to banking, fertiliser and films.
A. V. Meyappan (Film Producer, Founder, AVM Studios, Chennai); Kannadasan (Poet and Lyricist) V.K Ramasamy (Actor, Director) ;
INDUSTRIALIST/BUSINESS: S. Rm. Muttiah Chettiar (Industrialist); S. Rm. M. Chidambaram Chettiar S. Rm. M. Ramasamy Chattier (Founder Indian Bank) S. Rm. M. Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar, Raja of Chettinad (Founder of Annamalai University)
Raja Sir M. A. Muthiah Chettiar, Raja of Chettinad (First Mayor of Madras) M. A. Chidambaram Chettiar, (Former Chairman SPIC Group of Companies) Karumutu Tyagaraja Chettiar (Founder Bank of Madura, Tyagaraja Mills and Educational Institutions, Madurai)
Kumararaja M. A. M. Muthiah Chettiar Kumararani Dr. Meena Muthiah Dr. M. A. M. Ramasamy (Chairman Chettinad Cements and Group of Companies) Diwan Bahadur C. V. Ct. Venkatachalam Chettiar S. Rm. M. Ct. Muthia (Founder, Indian Ovesees Bank) A. M. Murugappa Chettiar (Murugappa Group of Companies) M. V. Arunachalam (Former Chairman, Murugappa Group of Companies) M. V. Murugappan (Former Chairman, Murugappa Group of Companies) M. V. Subbiah (Former Chairman, Murugappa Group of Companies) M. A. Alagappan (Former Chairman, Murugappa Group of Companies) P. Lakshmanan (Former Managing Director, Sree Karpagambal Mills Ltd.)
- "Featured Articles from The Economic Times". The Times Of India.
- "Tamil Nadu: Caste factor continues to play make-or-break role in politics". The Times Of India. 2 April 2011.
- web cite| url = http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060319/spectrum/main3.htm
- Pg 23 - the word chetty in Tamil refers to Lord Muruga
- "Chettiars reign where wealth meets godliness". The Times Of India. 2003-08-19.
- Christine Dobson, Asian Entrepreneurial Minorities, Curzon Press UK, 1996. (A chapter in the book is devoted to the Chettiars who set up businesses in Burma.)
- Rajeswary Brown (1993) "Chettiar capital and Southeast Asian credit networks in the inter-war period". In G. Austin and K. Sugihara, eds. Local Suppliers of Credit in the Third World, 1750-1960. (New York: St. Martin's Press).
- Kudaisya, Medha M. (2009). "Marwari and Chettiar Merchants. 1850s-1950s: Comparative Trajectories". In Kudaisya, Medha M.; Ng, Chin-Keong. Chinese and Indian Business: Historical Antecedents. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN 9789004172791.
- David Rudner (1989) Banker's Trust and the Culture of Banking among the Nattukottai Chettiars of Colonial South India. Modern Asian Studies 23 (3), 417-458.
- Heiko Schrader (1996) Chettiar Finance in Colonial Asia. Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie 121, 101-126.