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Vol. XXXI No.7, July 16-31, 2021

Poor man’s Educational Paradise

by C.K. Subramaniam


Sir Pitty Theagaraya Chetty.

Sir Theagaraya College is located in Old Washermanpet. The college is affiliated to the University of Madras. Arts and Science courses offered include B.A. Historical Studies, B.A. Economics, B.Sc Chemistry, Physics, Botany, and Zoology, B.Com General, M.A. Historical Studies, M.A. Economics, M.Sc Zoology, Ph.D. Self-Financing Courses both full-time and part-time in Historical Studies, Economics and Zoology (Shift-II) UG Courses are B.C.A (Bachelor of Computer Application), B.B.A (Bachelor of Business Administration) B.Sc Computer Science, B.Com General, B.Com Computer Application, B.Com Accounting and Financing, and B. Com Corporate Secretaryship. PG Courses commenced from the academic year 2019-2020 are M.Sc Computer Science and M.Com(General).

Theagaraya College is one of the educational landmarks of our city. It is a matter of pride for Chennai that this institution celebrates its 71st year. Pitty Theagaraya Chetty – Senior and Sir Pitty Theagaraya Chetty-Junior, founded the North Madras Hindu Secondary School in 1897, to cater to the educational needs of the local population. For nearly 25 years, the school was nurtured under the munificence of the acclaimed philanthropists- the Pitty Brothers. After their demise, the School was renamed the Theagaraya Chetty Hindu Secondary School. In 1931, the Pitty Family, with the approval of the High Court of Madras, vested the management of the school in the hands of a Committee constituted for the purpose.

The first correspondent of the School was the coveted personality in Dewan Bahadur P.T. Kumaraswami Chetty. Subsequently, he was succeeded by his brother P.T. Chengalvaraya Chetty in 1942. The School flourished and soared to greater heights in the field of education and by June 1947, the students’ strength increased to 1600 – no mean achievement, given the demographics of the location of the school, populated by traders, artisans and daily wagers.

Fittingly, the Management realized the need to raise the School into a College, in the year 1950, to provide higher education to the residents of North Madras – a luxury offered at hand’s reach, which even the affluent could not easily dream of, in those days. P.Ramaswamy Chetty, grandson of Pitty Theagaraya Chetty-Senior, a talented and visionary icon of Pammy family was a member of the Managing Committee and worked relentlessly towards the establishment of an institution for higher learning- a haven for the weaker and under-privileged sections of the people in North Madras. The steady growth achieved by Sir Theagaraya College since its establishment illustrates the commitment of the Management in offering education, particularly higher education to the under-privileged and the disadvantaged.

Sir Theyagaraya College which is a constituent of the Theagaraya Chetty Educational Institutions, is managed by a board comprising six trustees, of whom two are drawn from each of the families of Pitty Theagaraya Chetty-Senior and Sir Pitty Theagaraya Chetty-Junior, one from the Chartered Accountants Association and the other being nominated by the Madras University Syndicate. Having studied in both Sir Theagaraya College Higher Secondary School and also Sir Theagaraya College I represented both the school and college in cricket having led my college team in 1969-70 and featured as an opening batsman and a new ball bowler. My best was winning a match against the much-fancied Madras Medical College side and taking 7 wickets for 28 against a strong College of Engineering (Guindy) after putting the opposition to bat first. Moreover, I represented Sir Theagaraya Recreation Club in the fourth division league and carried my bat throughout the innings against Shivaji CC. The set of professors were really kind enough for me to allow me to go for cricket practice in the last hour of college and that was physics.

There was an accepted gradation among the students of Loyola, Pachaiyappa’s and Sir Theyagaraya College. But I never felt the difference as my set of boys from the BSc Maths section were all thorough gentlemen. We enjoyed the company very much and have a whatsapp group now to exchange our old memories. As an average student in school and PUC, the first year of college, I was reluctant to pay fees for BA Economics but my physical director called me and informed me that there is one seat for BSc Maths available and the Principal Rajagopalan would like to give it to me. With hesitation in mind, I entered the principal’s room, and he wrote in a chit of paper “admit” and I was in the mainstream of mathematics with physics and statistics as ancillary subjects. Thus, I became a mathematics graduate with a C grade. Cricket was my first preference and when I joined NCC, I struggled to attend NCC Parades during the weekends. By the end of the course, the NCC commander issued a certificate to me stating that I was irregular in attendance as I was attending cricket matches on parade days. Thus, I got a double certificate and my physical director did make a mention about my exemplary behaviour and therefore I got a good conduct certificate as well.

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