The Thiagarajar School of Management was established by Shri. Karumuttu Thiagaraja Chettiar, a visionary entrepreneur and benevolent philanthropist. His patronage of arts led him to be referred to by the sobriquet “Kalaithanthai”, meaning “Father of Arts”, and he was popularly called Karumuttu. Born in 1893, he completed his education partly in India, and partly in erstwhile Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where he embarked on his professional career as an assistant editor in the Ceylon English Daily “Morning Leader”. His leadership qualities came to the fore, when outraged at the unfair working conditions of Tamil laborers, he took it upon himself to fight for improving their lives. He wrote a series of articles, and even published a book “Indian Immigrant on Ceylon Estates”. His relentless efforts at the age of 22 eventually compelled the Government to agree to his demands – which is one of his significant achievements and he did not stop there. In 1916, he returned to his motherland and contributed to the Freedom Struggle by joining the Congress the following year; he was made the President of the Labour Wing.

Service to Education is Service to God

His ambitious nature didn’t allow him to rest on his laurels and so he embarked on his entrepreneurship journey with the establishment of the Meenakshi Mills Ltd. in Madurai in 1921 – the first of 18 textile mills. His business acumen helped him to acquire sugar factories, and the reputed firm of P.ORR & Sons Pvt. Ltd in Chennai. Not content with his achievements, he ventured into banking and insurance – Bank of Madura and Madura Insurance. The print media being his first career, he also started a newspaper – Tamil Nadu

Shri. Karumuttu Thiagaraja Chettiar met Sri Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan in Kolkata, where he had gone on a business matter. Tagore inspired him to give back to society; this was the beginning of his philanthropic journey. He established numerous charitable trusts: Thiagarajar Endowment in 1944, Thiagarajar Dharma Vanigam in 1948, Thiagarajar College Endowment Trust in 1951, the Thiagarajar Charities in 1962, and Thiagarajar Educational Trust. In memory of his wife, he founded the Visalakshi Kalasalai – a school in his hometown, A.Thekkur in Sivagangai district, in 1959. It was inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India at that time. His proactive thinking and ability to visualize the future led him to realize the need for professionally trained and efficient managers. Just a few years later, Shri. Karumuttu Thiagaraja Chettiar established the Thiagarajar School of Management in 1962.