M.Ct.M.Chidambaram Chettyar was born on August 2, 1908. “M.CT”, as he was popularly known, came from a conservative merchant community, once renowned for trading, financing and banking, but he went on to beat a different path and play a pioneering role in economic development in Southern India. Sadly, his life is a story of a journey that ended long before it should have.
M.CT. was a dreamer who lived far ahead of his time. He was a visionary. Beginning, his business career in 1929, with a small but pioneering life insurance company, The United India Life Assurance Co.Ltd., M.CT grew it into a national organisation at a time when foreign-owned insurance companies dominated the scene. He went on to build on its foundation, in 1938, another pioneering Indian-owned venture, The United India Fire & General Insurance Co.Ltd., that proved as successful as his previous venture. He established, in 1936, a bank, The Indian Overseas Bank Ltd., (specialising in foreign exchange), with branches all over India, and in South and Southeast Asia. And he pioneered a major industry in South India in 1946, promoting and building South and Southeast Asia’s first synthetic fibre manufacturing facility, the Travancore Rayons Ltd.