Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXI No. 17, December 16-31, 2021

Amazing Adyar

by R.V. Rajan (

(Continued from Last Fortnight)

The Aseema Trust founded in 1998 by the two person army comprising Dr. V.R. Devika and Smt. Vasantha Parthsarathy aims at bridging arts, artists and education in an ever expanding network. Using the performing arts of South India for effective communication with public in general and children in particular, the Aseema Trust strengthens the bond among the people showing respect for difference of opinion, realizing the dignity of labour and maintaining the integrity in cultural preservation. The Trust turns this dream into reality by undertaking several projects to introduce Gandhian principles in handling situations effectively and to create positive outlook. The Trust has been taking forward the Gandhian thought through spinning. Dr. Devika, herself a well-known Gandhian, is striving hard to spread the Gandhian principles among children.

Pathway Centre for rehabilitation and education of the mentally retarded, Pathway for short, was started by Dr. A.D.S.N. Prasad, an audiologist and speech pathologist. It is located in Kamarajnagar in Thiruvanmiyur. From a humble beginning when Dr. Prasad was unexpectedly stuck with the responsibility of bringing up two mentally disabled children, the institute has grown to benefit more than 30,000 children. The Institute has two city centres and a rural agricultutal farm. The article describes in detail how Dr. Prasad managed to get funding for several projects not only from donors in India but also from abroad.

There are 16 other institutions covered under sections titled 1.Early Efforts in Education, 2.Mentoring Excellence, 3. Art & Culture, 4. Environmental Amelioration, 5. Social Awareness and 6. Health and Welfare. The last article in this part is about Roja Muthiah Research Library ( RMRL). The library is a standing testimony to Roja Muthiah’s single minded pursuit in life – that of collection. Hailing from the Kottaiyur village in Southern Tamilnadu. Mr. Muthiah, was running a signboard painting business called ‘Roja Arts’. Thus he came to be known as Roja Muthiah. In the initial years, his daughter along with two others, helped in reading whatever came their way, and compiling, indexing and storing. Ironically, the insecticide that he used to save the collection from destruction caused infection in his lungs and he passed away on June 4,1992. We learn that it was C.S. Lakshmi, popularly known as Ambai in literary circles, who, knowing the importance Mr. Muthah’s collection, roped in her associates in the Library of the University of Chicago to help. The Roja Muthiah Research Library trust was formed in 1994 to preserve, catalogue, expand and to manage the collection of Mr. Muthiah. From 1994-2004 ‘Mozhi’ Trust headed by Sri Theodore Baskaran was managing the Library. In 2004, a new public trust was formed with a Memorandum of Understanding with the University Chicago to preserve and maintain the collection. Many scholars and researchers have gifted their collection to the library, the latest being the books from S. Muthiah’s personal archive. Documentation is the strength of RMRL and it has been documenting all available and accessible Tamil resources including its own collection. ‘The World Cat itemises the collection of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and RMRL is one among them.

The last part dealing with Personalities is divided into two sections 1. Art and Culture and 2, Education, Administration and Social Work. In the Art and Culture section we read about the success stories of Padma Subramanian, The Dhananjayans, Chandralekha and Chitty Sunderrajan & Sivapadasundaram. The second section covers personalities like Prof. Dr. M. Anandakrishnan, Dr. R.Nagaswamy, Iravatham Mahadevan, V.C. Kulandaiswamy, Padma Venkatraman, K.V. ­Ramanathan, B.S. Raghavan, Ananda Vikatan Balasubramanian, Santha Sheela Nair and T.V. Antony.

In this section the new knowledge I gained was about Padma Venkatraman, the daughter of R.Venkatraman the former President of India. Padma started the concept of micro-credit, long before such actions became popular. When she saw the unfortunate people affected with leprosy, she decided to not only lend them some money but also make them realise that by using the scheme they could become productive and their life would change for the better. Padma is currently the Vice-President of Women’s India Association, Chennai and is also associated with other voluntary organisations besides being the advisor to HOPE worldwide.

As the author mentioned at the book release function,‘I don’t think I have completed writing about Adyar. But at some point of time one has to stop.’ I am sure there will be more stories about Adyar which has developed over the years as one of the most prosperous Southern suburbs of the city.

This book would be useful not only to Adyarites but citizens of Chennai besides being a useful reference book to researchers and students of history about the city and region.

The book costing Rs 375/- has been published by Palaniappa Brothers and can be purchased at https// /narasiah books.

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