The Chamber is 72 years old and celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. We look back with pride and satisfaction the past 72 years of our golden period.
Cardinal Newman, the author of the famous and beautiful hym n "Lead, Kindly Light" has said "Growth is the only evidence of Life". Yes! Growth not in terms of age alone but also in terms of performance.
It would be relevant on this occasion to recall and record our performance " Origin, Objectives and Achievements.
The year 1944 in which our Chamber was born happened to be a momentous as well as a crucial year for our nation. It saw many events. The Second World War (1939-1945) was going on and it was the penultimate year of the War. The British Rule had taken India into the War by a proclamation without consulting Indians. India resented this and the result - National leaders were put behind the bars. Gandhijis wife Kasturba breathed her last in the jail after a long illness. The only sigh of relief was that the Father of the Nation Gandhiji who had been imprisoned for launching his "Quit India Movement" was released this year.
It was also a period of transition, the end of one era that of British Rule in India and another era namely Independent India was to usher in, in the near future.
But the nation was poised for full freedom. The non-cooperation movement was in full swing which had shaken the British Administration at its base. India was in a State of political turmoil. Negotiations were going on between the National Leaders and the British Government for arriving at a solution.
These happenings had their effect in the Commercial field. India had made vast contributions to the war both in terms of men and money.
The British Rule had adopted many harsh measures to meet the needs of the war which had consumed almost the entire produce - food, cloth as well as fuel. The war time compulsions led to a spate of controls covering production, price, stocks, distribution, imports and exports, tariffs and capital issues affecting every segment of the economy. The control mechanism had its impact on the economic and commercial activity of the period. The crippling effect which the controls and taxes had on the Indian Industries and Trade made the Industrial and Commercial Community feel the need to vent their feeling of grievances in some way.
Though there were other Chambers of Commerce functioning in the then composite State of Madras (named as Madras Presidency comprising the present Andhra, Tamilnadu, Kerala and part of Karanataka States), the need for an additional Chamber to protect and promote the interests of the mercantile community of Tamil Nadu was keenly felt by a number of leading businessmen in the compelling circumstances prevailed then and also in the context of the contemplated formation of linguistic States which were to come up in the near future.
In this atmosphere with a far sighted vision and lofty mission, the Tamil Chamber of Commerce was established by the founding fathers who were great men.
The Chamber was ushered into existence by the late Dr.R.K.Shanmugham Chetty who was the first Finance Minister of Independent India. A galaxy of greatmen like Sir A.Ramaswamy Mudaliar, who represented India in the United Nations, the great philanthropist and Educationalist Dr.Al.Rm.Alagappa Chettiar, Rao Sahib Mr.V.Ramaswamy Mudaliar, Mr.Varadappa Chettiar, Rao Bahadur Mr.C.Tadulingam, Tamil Kavalar Mr.K.A.P.Viswanathan and the famous T.K.S.Brothers have played a great role in the activities and development of the Chamber. There have also been many stalwarts like Mr.P.M.Balasubramaniam, Mr.M.Kuppuswamy Naicker, Mr.A.Nagappa Chettiar, Mr.C.S.Loganathan, Mr.P.M. Garudapathi Naicker, Mr.V.S.L.Nathan,Mr.Rawal, Mr.M.Kothandaraman, Mr.A.B.Ananthakrishnan, Mr.G.K.Shankar, Mr.T.G.Krishnamurthy, Dr.Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, Mr.R.K.Varadanarayana, Mr.R.M.Dave, Mr.V.Ramachandran and Mr.C.Ratanchand Savansukha who have headed the Chamber as Presidents and built up the Organisation.
Our main objectives as set out in our memorandum are
To promote and protect the Commerce, Industries and Trades in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu;
To watch over and safeguard general commercial interests of the Tamils, engaged in Commerce, Industries and Trades in India and Abroad.
To concert measures for advancing commercial and technical education and such study of different Art and Science as may tend to develop Commerce, Industries and Trade in Tamil Nadu.
Though the Chamber is based in Chennai, it has been working on broad national principles for the benefit of the whole mercantile community of the country without confining to any particular section, area or State.
It is the strong view of the Chamber that in the context of national effort for a planned programme of development, the importance of sustained efforts to preserve an atmosphere of cordiality and mutual esteem cannot be over-emphasized, and as spokesman/mouth piece of the Organised Commerce and Industry it is the Chambers duty to fearlessly present the points of view in respect of official policies and programmes.
Ever since its inception the Chamber has been consistently pleading that for the ordered economic development of the country and to keep the Government well informed of the commercial and industrial problems, separate representations for the mercantile community both at the Central and at State Legislatures is essential as the trading community alone can keep the Government correctly informed of the difficulties confronting it. Whenever occasion or opportunity arose the Chamber has not failed to stress upon this point.
The Chamber has also been pleading that for the Economic Development, first and foremost, the government should cut down its own expenditure and has been persistently impressing upon them to economise its administration.
The Chamber has also been pleading with the Government, that while periodical increase in wages depending upon the increase in prices is necessary, it should also be commensurate with other factors like the capacity of the employers to pay the wages, that the proper procedure to be adopted, to do justice both to Employers and Employees, would be to evolve a pattern of wages with a minimum and maximum, on the basis of income of Employers/Establishments, to enable the employers to adhere to it.
One of the notable achievements of the Chamber which may be mentioned with pride is the part played by it in the retention of the City of Madras in Tamil Nadu, when the composite Madras State was divided into Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Our membership fraternity covers the whole of Tamil Nadu and also outside with a representative character comprising various industries and trades.
To encourage craftsmanship and commerce education; the Chamber has instituted Annual Awards for the Best Weaver and Designer of the year and also for the Best Students in Commerce studies.
The Chamber is organizing Conferences and Seminars periodically and also invites prominent persons in the Commercial and Industrial field as well as officials from the Government to address our members.
The Chamber is publishing a Periodical "The Tamil Chamber of Commerce Journal" for the use of members to keep them informed of the latest information in Commerce, Industry and Trade.
With the contribution made by the members and the munificent grant by Dr.Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, the Chamber has acquired a flat of its own in the George Town.
The cumulative effect of the cooperation, guidance and wise cousel as well as the experience, and expertise of all the members is solely responsible for what has been achieved. The Chamber salutes them all. Let us have a peep into the past.