Speeches of Alagappa Chettiar

WELCOME SPEECH of Dr.RM.Alagappa Chettiar on the Occasion of the laying the Foundation Stone of the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute at Karaikudi by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prim Minister of India, On 25th July 1948.



Its is now my duty as it is my privilege and pleasure too add my humble voce of welcome first to you, Sir, our dear Prime Minister. It is a joy, to receive and to offer welcome; but it truly divine to welcome such a galaxy of statesmen and savants and men grown grey in their service to man and the lakhs that have gathered this morning. To you one all I offer my sincerest welcome.

I have not been active participant in the struggle for freedom India. I have been just eyewitness; perhaps, I may add a heart-witness. But it will be true to say that right from the days when I was at school I, like many of you, have been an admiring spectator of the grand spectacle of the struggle of our beloved Prime Minister for the freedom of our land from his early days of his almost ascetic resolve to scorn the delights of conventional success and to live laborious days during the exacting years of his discipleship of the Father of our Nation - Mahatma Gandhiji in the midst of a suffering people. the life story of our distinguished son of India is verily the discovery of the Great and the good that was India; the survey of Mahatma's life is not a mere endless succession of good and great deeds but the chronicling of the results of experiments with Truth. The story of the Life of our leaders is the story of an unceasing sacrifice for the sake of an ultimate truth. Only taking in roots in the traditions that gave meanings to human endeavours they discovered the future. Hence it is that even during moments of occasional despondency one always feels cheered by the thought that a country and passion for righteousness can yet recapture its greatness in the future.

The long and chequered history of India has always given a great lessons to learn. While on the one hand kingdoms rose and fell, and wave upon wave of invasions swept over the land and political life degenerated in the byways of courtcraft on the other from the very dawn of the Vedic age the relentless search for truth went on without any relaxing or interruption. the mystery of creation, the wonders of the world around, birth and death, the meaning and purpose of life these created a ferment in the minds of our ancestors. New religious faiths came into being. A few of then even denied God. One and all of them flourished, for the burning of the hetrodox and the wiping out of the unbeliever not the was of India. Truth as the mind of man conceived it was scared and free and it was the search for truth that broadened down form precedent. This is the true history of Indian civilisation, the centuries of mutual endeavours to discover the nature of the synthesis that unifies and explains the seeming contradictions that present themselves on the surface of the Universe. The chief feature of Indian culture is this emphasis on freedom of thought. In modern times one speak of the scientific approach. In the highest sense of the term it can mean on more that the canalization of disinterested intellectual curiosity and a fearless acceptance of whatever conclusions that flow out. By this definition our ancients were scientists in the truest sense of the word. We are the inheritors of that scientific approach.

I may be pardoned for these vague philosophic ramblings.

As I stand before you equally expecting and rightly excited I turn up my heart to Providence in prayerful mood humbly tender my thanks to God for having given me this moment. It is bliss to be alive on a moment like this. on behalf of every one assembled here and the many more who are not present but whose hearts beat in unison with ours nevertheless, I have a genuine joy in offering our thanks to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for there decision to locate this Electro Chemical Research Institute at Karaikudi. The Prenatal period of this expression, was as anxious and overcharged with an element of fear as is always the case prior to the birth of any life. My thanks are due in no small measure to the Government Of Madras and particularly my friends the Hon'ble Minister for Industries, Mr.Sitarama Reddy who has been the architect f my idea from very beginnings: The proposal was blessed by the Madras Government at early stage. I cannot be sufficiently grateful to Dr. Bhatnagar but for whose endless and inexhaustible enthusiasm and wise guidance this scheme would not have materialised. Dr. Sir, K.S.Krishnan and Sir J.C.Ghosh have been uniformly helpful and spared many a valuable hour for me. The encouragement that I have received both from the finance Minister and Minister of Industries Dr.Shanmugam Chetty and Dr.Mookerjee can be appreciated only by those who know them and their capacity for good. I am happy all these great men who I have referred to have followed up there goodness by benign personally present here. I am grateful to them all for this genuine gesture. I Naturally reserve my humble token of gratitude to our prime Minister for having given his seal of approval at every stage and coming down here to lay the Foundation stone. Only history can record the magnitude of this event for a town Karaikudi. It is not conventional reference when I say generous friends told me time and gain during the last month that the coming of Panditji to Karaikudi can be linked only to the puranic Bagirat h, having brought Gana earth. though I am not impertinent enough to claim for myself the status of Bagirath, I can say fearlessly that the Panditji to Ganga is true in every respect. To those who have followed the doubts and fears of the fitness of Karaikudi to share this honour of the location of the institute will appear the aptness of the simile and the need of Ganga to fertilise the soil of Karaikudi. As i tender my thanks to Panditji, I feel like a devotee attempting to thank Providence for His grace and mercy.

The advantages of Karaikudi for the location of the institute may not be quite well-known. I have been informed by the knowledgeable men of science that Karaikudi being situated close to the magnetic equators is suitable as a center for magnetic studies. It is close to the sea and its thus advantageously placed for caring on oceanographic studies. The first grade college I had the privilege to start which was recently declared open by our Premier of Madras Hon'ble Mr.Omandur Reddiar, will be the neighbor to this Institute and hence will have much to learn from and something to give to this great Institute. it is my hope to start here an Engineering College immediately, a college which God and the University of Madras willing to start functioning in civil engineering by the Academics year 1949. Technological and Polytechnic Institutions are next in my list. In course of time other branches of learning will, I hope, rise in this area and before of long this temple of learning which has been blessed at every stage by good and saintly personages will radiate its halo and enlightment to all who came within its orbit.

I have in mind the starting of a Research Institute in higher mathematics to be called the Ramanujam Institute of Mathematics - a small remembrance to a great man. My scheme for this Ramanujam Institute is ready and I hope it can be started in the not too distant further. This together with this great Electrochemical Institute which will start its career in a few moments will then form an aggregation of Academics units of immense value to the culture and the civilisation of our country. I am a dreamer, but you will agree dreamers are the most practical of men; for without visions and dreams there is no shaping of the future and i have sufficient faith to feel that more and more of these dreams will son be transformed into reality.

Before the Prime Minister proceeds lay the foundation stone and thereby initiate a force potential for good, I want to present this beautiful ivory jar scooped out of one tusk to our Prime Minister (Presentation). On it are engraved the Upanishad verse 'thamasoma Jyothiragamaya which is translated into English means 'from darkness lead me into light'. Friends, Institutions of this type fulfill this essential purpose to throwing light on our path and taking us to our desired goal. For inauguration so laudable an objective, one naturally looks to the most eminent our countrymen. Ina message which Dr.C.R.Reddy has sent me for this occasion he had used this significant sentence "Apart from the position of the high office he holds Jawaharlal Nehru is a man of immortal worth". He is imbued with the love of Truth and the universal outlook which should be the very basis of all scientific work.

Let me conclude with the thought that the new spirit of freedom that has awaked in the country will be followed by an adequate realisation of the opportunities it has created the determination to use these opportunities in the service of mankind .

Speeches of Alagappa Chettiar

Address by Dr.RM.Alagappa Chettiar opening of the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute by Dr.S.Radhakrishnan, Vice-President, Republic of India on 14th January, 1953.


My visits to Delhi in the course of my Normal works gave me opportunities of contact with some of the leaders of national importance, not only statesmen but also Academicsians and men of science. I recall today some of these contacts with pleasure particularly those with my distinguished friends Dr.Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar and Dr.K.S.Krishnan. The contacts with these two enable me to pursue a long cherished ambition of mine to make a contribution to the establishment of some institutes of national importance. The inspiration which I derived form theses good and great men made me dream of a research institute of mathematics to be named after that great son of India, the late Ramanujam, and an institute of geophysics including oceanography and terrestrial magnetism. At this time the Government had an extensive programme of founding a chain of national laboratories to be spread all over India, some of which had already been located and some still awaiting location. In my attempt to crystallize and give shape to my vision I had the rare opportunity of availing myself of the generous help of Dr.S.S.Bhatnagar. While as a dreamer I would not abandon my hopes I also realised that they could not materilised without the manifold help of a person like Dr.Bhatnagar. To him one always looks for unstinted support in furtherance of scientific research in India and to him and his colleagues in the council of Scientific and Industrial Research, I offer my thanks in grateful acknowledgment of generous and never-falling co-operation and encouragement. No words are needed from me regarding Dr.Bhatnagar's enthusiasm and unremitting energy of the highest order. He is a live wire and is apt to administer shocks to his colleagues and to government authorities; these shocks are sometimes mild, but whether mild or not are always purposeful and helpful. It is difficult for me to give full expression to my feelings of gratitude for the intimate personal contacts I have been privileged to have with this great man and good friend.

Before the location of the Institute could be decided upon, and for some time after, there were serious controversies about the suitability of Karaikudi. It was felt by those who had heared about the arid tracts of southern Coromandel Coast that in Karaikudi there could be little supply of water , which is essential for research, not to mention for a community of men. And those who saw the unwooded plans and the scrub jungle of this location. It looked as if that almost the only factor in favour of Karaikudi was its location in the vicinity of the magenetic equator. I am not sufficiently versed in higher physics to explain the implications and advantages of this fact. But naturally it was a pleasurue to me to observe that it has a distinct attraction for eminent scientists. Fortunately we now that there is plenty of water available under the ground, which cab be easily taken out in quantities to meet all our demands. The bore-well constructed here is a pointer to hydrological possibilities of this neglected tract.

It is our great good fortune that the institute is to be declared open by our beloved Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Vice President of India. He is the most eminent torch-bearer of eastern culture and civilisation. He happily represents today an aspect of our acient Upanishadic tradition where we learned of kings who imparted enlightenment to seekers of truth. This scholors statesman is the modern counterpart of the philosoper king. he is a man whose association with a Government would add stature to it be it in any part of the world and i am greatly elated at our special good fortune to have hium here today.

In the history of the ancient land there have been periods when seers and sages pursued the their indefatigable Enquirer into many realms of truth. Their speculations were marked by fearlessness and devotion to truth and bore the hall-mark of great minds tacking great problems. No aspect of knowledge appears to have been neglected; no aspect of acience, learning, arts, crafts and scholarship was over looked. What they did was possible because of the prevalence of a climate of freedom and other favorable factors, which endured through the varying vicissitudes of our history over centuries. Today there are sings that we may once again be starting on a voyage the freedom of this land in a remarkable and unique manner which will forever be counter be counted to our credit. In our midst there appeared a man like the great mathematician S Ramanujan, who made a profound mark, and carved for himself a place in the hall of fame inspite of the handicaps with which he worked and lived during his short life. Name like those of Rabindranath Tagore, Ramanujan, Radhakrishnan and Raman suggest that we are not on the thresold of a new era. We have to think of creating a milieu in which there will naturally emerge a large number of distinguished men in various branches of learning and other human activities. The Prime Minister has initiated and vigorously set in motion policies which are bound to bear fruit within a reasonable time. I refer to the encouragement that is being given to scientific research in nation institutes and other centers of higher learning. The passionate yearning and hopes to come true, thanks to the co-operative effort, pension like Dr.S.S. Bhatnagar. I take this opportunity to pay my meed of tribute to the great ideals, which are inspiring the encouragement of scientific research by the Government of India. The Ramanuja Institute of Mathematics, which is now in Madras, may have its location for the present here in the Central Electrochemical Research Institute. I am Grateful to Dr. Bhatnagar for giving Ramanuja Institute facilities for a proper location till it has its own buildings. The Ramanuja Institute will be, like that with the assistance of the Government of India it will come to occupy its rightful place as one the foremost centers of mathematical research in our country.

It is but natural that one should be filled with happiness when dreams come true. Today I am very happy man and I humbly commend this Institute to God.

Speeches of Alagappa Chettiar

Speech of Dr.RM.Alagappa Chettiar to Welcome Dr.Rajendra Prasad President Of India Requesting him to lay the table of Alagappa Chettiar Collage of Engg and Tech at Karaikudi - on 19th February 1953.


Respected Sir,

It is my privilege and pleasure to welcome you here on behalf of the various institutions under the Trust-the Alagappa Chettiar College of Engineering and Technology, the Arts & Science College, the Training College and the Model High School. The Arts and Science College was started in 1947 and has been developing in strength in commemoration for the centenary of Dr. Besant, who has done so much for the resurgence of nationalism in this country. The college was also housed, in the beginning, in the "Gandhi Maligai" thus constantly bringing to our mind the great leaders to whom we owe our Freedom and our moral renaissance. The Idea of starting a College of Engineering and Technology as part of the various educational institutions under the Trust took shape as early as 1948, when Prime minister Pandit Nehru came here to lay the foundation-stone of Central Electrochemical Research Institute, which was declared open by the Vice President, Dr.Radhakrishnan on 14th January, 1953. The College actually started to work in July of last year. It is housed temporarily in the premises of the Arts & Science College, making use of the Science laboratories, workshop and common drawings hall belonging to it. A first batch of 73 Students has been selected. It is hardly necessary to add that a technological college cannot function except in its own building suited to its needs and, therefore, the Trustees have been extremely anxious to construct an independent set of buildings for it with the least possible delay. It this connection our gratitude is due to the Government of Madras for having readily placing at our disposal a sum of Rs. 4 Lakhs as an initial half-grant towards equipment and building for the current year. It is indeed our good fortune and, may I add, a good omen and lay from the traditional religious point of view, nothing could be more auspicious than that you should be performing this act immediately after worshiping in the scared temple of Rameswaram, where Lord Rama himself, prior to his conquest to Lanka, installed and worshipped Lord Maheswara.

It is our ambition to create within this campus a center of learning and culture in all its aspects. There are at present located in all its aspects. There are at present location here an Arts & Science College, with nearly a thousand students, a Training College training about 70 teachers of the post-graduate standard, and the new Engineering College. The Central Electrochemical Research Institute- one of the eleven National Laboratories of India - will be a center of higher research in a field of great significance, both in knowledge as such, and in the industrial field. It is also proposed to shift the Ramanujan Institute of Mathematics, which I was prevailed to start three ago, to Karaikudi. The Students and the staff of these institutions from a colony, in which learning is, as it were, part of the very atmosphere, so that, gradually, what is created is not merely a place of learning but a way of life. It is this higher objective of inculcating curiosity a life pursuit and acceptance of truth at all costs that should be the aim of all academies. It is our hope that such a fulfillment will be facilitated by the creation of a number of institutions in this campus, each pursuing its won line of study but mingling with the others. It is in this view that we also hope to establish, before long, living accommodation for the students and staff within the campus itself to the maximum extent possible; for, otherwise, the busy hours of collegiate instruction and work are not sufficient to enable the students and the staff to come into intimate contact, which alone will help to create in the younger mind a proper attitude towards learning and life. It may not be out of place at this stage to say that such alone. It is our ambition to enlarge the scope of the instruction given here by such additions as other branches of engineering, polytechnics, technology and the like.

It is hardly necessary at this stage in the development of our country to stress the need for sufficient technical personnel, especially on the engineering side. It has been remarked by foreign observers, not in a sprit of criticism but in all fairness that the Indian student is better in theory that in the practice of a technique. This is perhaps due to psychology inheritance of our part, which makes us feel that the skill in the use of the hands is a subordinate attainment. Modern technical efficiency however can never be stained or respected infull measure unless the hand and the head are in perfect co-ordination. In this respect, Engineering is like painting and Sculpture. It is our hope that we shall be able to correct this defect

At the same time it is not our aim to look back rather than forward and to glorify the past, or to be weighed down by tradition. The culture of this country was great only when it was dynamic and fearless an, even in the spiritual field, asserted a change when it was felt to be necessary. Otherwise, Hinduism and Buddhism could not have grown and lived side by side, nor, reverting to the field of architecture, could a happy blending have been effected between the style of Hindus and the style of the Moghuls. It is this tradition of intelligent compromise and change that we should aim at in all things, and we hope that whom we train in our institutions, with your blessings, Sir, will develop that type of mind which will get the best of both worlds.

Let me conclude by saying that we attached the deepest significance to your laying the foundation stone of this College. Apart from your position as the President of Indian Union, you represent in your own individual right all that is best in the culture of our land. You are one of those selected band of great men who gathered round Mahatma Gandhi from the earliest days of our struggle for Freedom, by way of Truth and Non-violence. You have emerged from the struggle with victory but not rancour, with calmness and not exuberance, humility and not pride. This is indeed truth to the tradition of our great land. It is our devout prayer that it will be given to us to benefit by you examples and that your visit will not merely be a happy memory but a permanent guidance.

I think you for having been in our midst on this occasion and request you, Sir, to lay the foundation stone of the buildings of Alagappa Chettiar College of Engineering and Technology, of the Dr. Alagappa Chettiar College Endowment Trust.

Speeches of Alagappa Chettiar

CONVOCATION ADDRESS OF Dr.RM.Alagappa Chettiar delivered at Annual Convocation ot the University of Madras on Wednesday the 18th August, 1954


Mr. chancellor, Member of the University and my young friends on the threshold of graduation:

I feel honored in being called upon to deliver the Convocation Address of our University. I am not unaware that neither by age nor by experience I am competent to perform this task. It was generous of the Chancellor to have asked me to do so. I have accepted the responsibility with diffidence, but my singularly happy associations with Academics institutions, and my intimate contact with professors and students alike, have given me the courage to discharge this duty. Permit me to render my thanks to you Mr. Chancellor.

In three years from now, our University will be celebration its Centenary. Starting its career as the only agency of higher education on this career as the only agency of higher education on this side if the Vindhyas, in the second half of the century of its life it has had the unique privilege of giving birth to a number of other Universities. After Mysore, Andhra, Annamalai and Travancore, has come the turn of Sree Venkateswara Universities and it is our duty and pleasure to wish Godspeed in its career. I am particularly happy to address you under the auspices of our pleasant duty to felicitate on your behalf and mine our distinguished Vice- Chancellor on the unique privilege conferred on him to be of service to the University for the fifth term in succession.

If it were possible, I would prefer to talk to each one to you individually, rather than address a gathering. It is difficult for me to look upon this assembly in the mass. Actually, I see before me hundreds of young men and women, each naturally with a separate aspiration and a distinct hope for this strange interlude that we call life between the glimmering eternity of the past and unknown eternity of the future. Some of you will go through life in the quiet obscurity of middleclass contentment. Other may have to battle with the problems of comparative majority will choose congenial careers and fulfill useful roles in society as teachers, civil servants, engineers, doctors, lawyers or business men. Some of you will "ride the whirlwind and direct the storm", and through politics, religions or art, endeavor to bring a new heaven on an old earth. Each of you will have your measure of happiness and your measure of suffering. Far be it from me to advise you on the qualities that will enable you to compromise with the forces of inner inclination and external circumstance. Each of you will learn these lessons the hard way, the only way, and hammer out a little philosophy for yourself. But in a world in which God has endowed each person with an uncompromising individuality, so much so that even the lines on the hand or not the same for any two, and the pattern the mind is not the same for the same person for two moment in succession, what is it that can be laid down as enduring for all time and true for all? This is the problem that has faced the world since the dawn of civilization. This is the failure that men attempt to forget and recreate. When one contemplates the little system that have had their day and ceased to be, then turns one's eye to the contemporary scenes of men trying to legislate and order the universe towards the motion of some compulsory good; of the lust for power masquerading as political ideology; of science being harnessed to forge weapons of destruction on a cosmic scale; of the insidious increase of fear in the hearts of men, of the shadows that are creeping like an eclipse over the sunshine of personal liberty; one feels the imperative necessity for a little reflection. This is all I propose to do today; indeed, in a sense we shall do it together

Let us look back a little. Till 1947 our conception of freedom was dominated by the urgency of achieving freedom from British rule. Sufficient thought was not bestowed on the implications that inhere

Speeches of Alagappa Chettiar

Dr.Alagappa Chettiar Last Speech as on 15 feb 1957 for the students of Alagappa Chettiar College of Engineering and Technology


“Right throughout my life, it has never been my habit to take things lying down. I have always stood up for my rights, fought for them and pleaded for them. But now it has become the will of god that I should be confined to bed lying down for the last 8 months and god knows for how many months more. Friends, I am deeply overwhelmed with the elaborate arrangements that you have made and what is more, the great enthusiasm that you have shown in asking me to be present at least for a few moments before I leave for Madras.

As I first start speaking to you I must first tender my heartfelt thanks naturally to providence but later immediately, the equivalence of providence that is to my doctors who have been unremittingly attending on me day and night through thick and thin, irrespective and despite the great hardships that I have been causing them by making such undue demands on them. I am most grateful to them and I wish to publicly in the presence of my fellow students acknowledge the great debt that I owe to them and the great kindness that I have received from them and that I will continue to receive from them the rest of my life.

Friends, it was Lord Tennyson who sang “my strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.” I may for a moment make an amendment to the Great Tennyson and say “that my happiness despite my physical pain and unhappiness, my happiness is boundless, limitless because my happiness does not consist naturally of my own happiness but my happiness consists in the happiness of the thousands of students young and old, boy and girl who study in our vast educational campus.

Friends, it is that thought that has been keeping me alive even during these terrible months, seven or eight months and during the course of this foul disease to which I have fallen a victim. Friends I do not propose to talk to you anymore except to tell you that any individual credit that you take or any happiness that comes to anyone of you individually or collectively I consider it as my own happiness whether I know you individually or not., I think of this campus as one indivisible unit both of students and staff and I take such unmixed happiness from their own happiness and this is what that keeps me alive as I told you a bit earlier.

Friends I wish to convey to both to you and to the other students of the campus and to those who are not here my sincere good wishes for personal happiness not merely during the tenure of the few years that you will study in the campus but furthermore in the rest of your life in the wider amphitheater where you will play a part after you leave the college campus. God bless you is my sincere prayer and I hope god willing and if it is god’s will I will come back and see you or in any event I pray to god that everything will be well with you.

Speeches of Alagappa Chettiar

Message from Dr. Chettiar to the Press:


Dr. Bhatnagar has passed away. Along with him has gone the enthusiasm, drive and organized ability of a man of science in India has lost its pillar of support. Scientist and statesman so beautifully integrated as Dr. Bhatnagar. The Nation Laboratories owe their existence and rich growth to this one man, Dr. Bhatnagar. He was every sense a live wire as Mr. Nehru describes him and none will mourn his loss aware that the emphasis that the Prime Minister laid on the National Laboratories and Scientific research was equal to the importance he attached to the foreign policy.

The University Grants Commission, is yet in its infancy and it has now been orphaned by the passing way of its first Chairman. I have lost my greatest guide and support. The location, birth and growth of Central Electro-Chemical Research Laboratory at Karaikudi reads like a romance and adventure. That institute and other Laboratories will ever be standing monuments to his greatness and serve in the sphere of scientific research. India is poorer for Dr. Bhatnagar's loss. May his soul rest in peace.

Sd. RM. Alagappa Chettiar