S. Rm. M. Annamalai Chettiar

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Satappa Ramanatha Muthaiya Annamalai Chettiar
Annamalai Chettiar.jpg
Born (1881-09-29)29 September 1881
Madurai district,
British India
Died 15 June 1948(1948-06-15) (aged 66)
Residence Chettinad palace
Occupation businessman
Spouse(s) Rani Lady Seethai Achi
Children M. A. Muthiah Chettiar,
M. A. Ramanathan Chettiar,
M. A. Chidambaram,
L.CT.L.PL.Lakshmi Achi
Parent(s) S. Rm. Muthiah Chettiar (father)
Relatives S. Rm. family,
M. Ct. family

Raja Sir Satappa Ramanatha Muttaiya Annamalai Chettiar KCSI (30 September 1881 – 15 June 1948), known simply as Rajah Annamalai Chettiar, was an Indian industrialist, banker, educationist and philanthropist, who is largely remembered for his social work and endowments in Tamil Nadu. He is the founder of Annamalai University in Chidambaram.

Born to S. Rm. Muthiah Chettiar of a wealthy and famous Nagarathar family, Annamalai Chettiar joined the family business early and expanded their banking operations to South-East Asia. Annamalai Chettiar was one of the founders of Indian Bank along with his brother S. Rm. M. Ramaswami Chettiar and served as the first governor of the Imperial Bank of India. Annamalai also served a term as a member of the Council of State, the upper house of the Imperial Legislative Council of India and was honoured with a knighthood in 1923 and the title Raja of Chettinad in 1929.

The suburb of Raja Annamalaipuram in Chennai is named after Annamalai Chettiar. Annamalai Chettiar's oldest son M. A. Muthiah Chettiar,an activist of the Tamil Isai Movement, served as the Minister of Education and excise in the Madras Presidency while his third son M. A. Chidambaram and grandson A. C. Muthiah both served as presidents of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Annamalai Chettiar is the maternal grandfather of former Finance Minister of India, P. Chidambaram.

Early life[edit]

Annamalai Chettiar was born on 30 September 1881 at Kanadukathan in the Sivaganga estate of the then Madura district in the Madras Presidency of British India. His father, S.R.M.M. Muthiah Chettiar and brother Ramaswami Chettiar were noted bankers and philanthropists. Ramaswami Chettiar was one of the founder of the Indian Bank of which Annamalai Chettiar later served as a director.

After his schooling, he joined his family business. During the course of his business, he visited some of the countries in Southeast Asia. He also spent a considerable time in England. On his return home, he became the head of the civic body of Karaikudi, also member of several local organizations and the District Board.


In 1916, he transferred from local affairs to the Legislative Council of Madras Presidency, where he sat for 3 years. In 1920 he stood for election to the Council of State, established under the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, and was returned for the general constituency (the whole of the Presidency) at the head of polls. He held his seat in the Council for three consecutive terms, always by election and every time at the head of the polls. With his natural bent for finance, he with others founded the Indian Bank. He was also appointed a governor of the Imperial Bank of India at its inception in 1921 and continued as one of its directors almost to the end of his life.

Annamalai Chettiar was of the firm view that education was the primary need for the country. He made his mind to found and endow a college at Chidambaram. Sri Meenakshi College was formally opened in 1920. To the Arts College was added the Sanskrit College and a Tamil College in 1927. Soon an Oriental Training College followed by a College of Music was established. All these institutions formed a splendid nucleus for Annamalai University that was founded at a cost of 20 lakh, in the aftermath of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. It came into existence on 1 January 1929 with the passing of the bill and started functioning from July 1929. In recognition of his unique services to the cause of learning, a Knighthood, and the distinction of a hereditary Rajah of Chettinad was conferred on him. Rajah Annamalai Chettiar was deeply concerned over and made persistent efforts to safeguard the interests of Indians in Burma and French Indo-China. For this purpose he led a deputation to London and Paris in 1935. Even while immersed in other affairs, his thoughts were always with the University at Annamalainagar. Its development and expansion was his master passion. His devotion to music, especially Tamil music was another of his passions. The movement and the impetus that he gave to Tamil music were hailed by all. He died on 15 June 1948. Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department issued a commemorative stamp in his honor.


S. R. M. Annamalai Chettiar was given the title Diwan Bahadur by the British King for the valuable services rendered to the Crown. Later on the occasion of the King's birthday on 2 June 1923, he was conferred the honour of knighthood.[1] In 1929, he was conferred the title of hereditary Rajah of Chettinad by the King of England. He was the first Raja of Chettinad.