Shri Chinnaswami Rajam was described as a “pioneer in the Industrial Field” by the late Dr.C.P.Ramaswami Iyer. It is normally a fact that an enterprising person becomes an entrepreneur, leading himself to the path of being crowned as an Industrial Magnate. Until the first half of his life time Shri Rajam, even though youthful, dynamic, aspiring and hard-working, did not get his break.
He was born on 28th Nov. 1882, in the village of Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam. He had his High School education at the Town High School, Kumbakonam. Till 1904, he was staying at Kumbakonam, searching for a job. In 1904, he joined the Salem Government Weaving School, and learnt the art of weaving. Then he started his own handloom factory at Salem with a capital of Rs.1,000/- and manufactured dhoties, towels, shirtings etc, with fly-shuttle looms. After that, Shri Rajam tried out his hand in many jobs like grocery shop, canvassed orders for a tannery firm, managed a leather goods show room etc.
Then he started an Indian Company with a meager capital of Rs.1700/- which manufactured Coal Tar and was very successful. The India Company Ltd., Madras, took up the agency for Tata Steel in 1923, and for about ten years it was selling nearly 2,000 tons of steel per month on a small commission. This enhanced his reputation very much in Madras city, and he became one of the important business magnates.
He started The India Company Ltd., The Garage Ltd., The Kumbakonam Electric Supply Corporation Ltd. in 1932, and The Negapatam Electric Supply Company Ltd. and Indian Steel Rolling Mills Ltd. in the year 1933, and these companies had flourished very well. The paid-up capital of these companies exceeded Rs. 50 lakhs. He had been leading a princely life throughout.
In 1944, when his wife died, he made up his mind to minimize his comforts and sold his two bungalows, and gave a donation of Rs. 5 lakhs to start “THE MADRAS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY.” The first Convocation of the Institute was addressed by the First Prime Minister of India, pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the year 1952.
Mr. Rajam was ably assisted by a number of distinguished friends of his like Sir Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, the second president of the Indian Republic, Mr. M Subbaraya Iyer (1885 – 1963), Mr. K. Srinivasan(1887 – 1959) Editor of the The Hindu, Mr. C R Srinivasan (1889 – 1962), Editor of the Swadesamitran, Dewan Bahadur L Venkatakrishna Iyer, Mr. M K Ranganathan the Founding Director of the Institute and others.
For the Rolling Mills and Electric Supply Companies, he had to get foreigners even for erection work and therefore immediately made up his mind to produce practical Engineers and Scientists in India, for starting industrial concerns, or for taking up posts in the Defense departments and replace foreigners in due course. This has become a ‘fait accompli’ and the Institute has flourished very well during the past years. And many of the students have been absorbed in the Defense services, and in big industrial establishments.