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 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." 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 Defence 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 Defence services, and in big industrial establishments.
He was a man of action and not of words and the Madras Institute of Technology, Chromepet, which he founded in 1949 and which became part of the anna University of Technology, Chennai, says much about him, and words, however eloquent may fail to convey. However, the circumstances leading to its establishment, the noble personalities involved in its inception, including the revered first Prime Minister of free India, Sri jawaharlal Nehru, showed the founder of this great insttitution to be dynamic, generous, far-seeing and totally self-made. This institution has shaped many first-class technologists who became active in India and abroad including India's Missile Man, Dr.Abduk Kalam, a purely homespun scientist, who rose to become India's Rashtrapati, a truly People's President.