Famous Citizens of Chennai – 2

The rate of return on investment in education, although not precisely measurable for the various reasons discussed,is nevertheless among the highest in the public and private sectors and I personally believe it is indeed the highest

Malcolm S. Adiseshaiah

I came to know of Dr. Malcolm S Adiseshiah though his home on Cenatoph Road. As I walked to school daily, I used to look wistfully at the house hidden from the road by greenery. His name was an amalgam of Christian and Brahmin names, but that is fairly common in this side of the country. Other than that, his name didn’t mean much to me then. Later I heard his name here and there in Newspapers. Only on reading his obituaries when he passed away in 1994, did I realise his contribution to education and development.

Dr. Malcolm S Adiseshaiah was born in Vellore in 1910. After school education in Vellore and University education in Chennai, he went to London School of Economics and Cambridge for higher education. He returned to India and spent time teaching Economics in St. Pauls Calcutta and Madras Christian College, Madras.

From 1948 to 1970 he was with UNESCO, rising to become the Deputy Director General of the world body. During his spell in UNESCO he focussed on education in Third World countries and pushed for equitable growth. On retirement from UNESCO, he came back to Madras and founded the Madras Institute of Development Studies in 1971.

Eric Prabhakar says in his essay on Adiseshaiah “He viewed rural India as an area teeming with people who, despite their innate wisdom tosurvive, have much greater productive capacities than are presently being tapped. The problemwas massive illiteracy of adults in the rural areas. Given this perspective, it was plain to him thattop priority must be improvements in education and health as the first requisites for the expansionof commodity output in agriculture. ‘Adult education is the tool for the farmer and the country’srural masses to raise their subsistence standard’, he said”.

You can read the essay here.

His name was included in the series of profiles of 100 famous educators-philosophers, statesmen, politicians, journalists, psychologists, poets, men of religion-drawn from many parts of the world. Other Indians in the list are Sri Aurobindo, Gandhi, Tagore and Vivekananda.

And what happened to his house that captivated me in the first place? Well it was demolished after his death and there now stand the corporate office of Cavin Kare, a FMCG major in Chennai.

Earlier post Famous Citizens of Chennai – 1

4 Comments so far

  1. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on August 16th, 2006 @ 11:22 pm

    Nice post on Dr Malcolm S Adiseshiah, Chenthil Nathan. He was also the Vice Chancellor of University of Madras. A C Tech was then under University of Madras. I remember Dr Malcolm S Adiseshiah visiting the campus in his black imported car with his pet dog, frequently

  2. Krithiga (unregistered) on August 17th, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

    Did someone post on someother famous citizen of Chennai? Was there a “Famous citizens of Chennai – 1”? Can’t seem to find it.

  3. Chenthil (unregistered) on August 17th, 2006 @ 5:29 pm

    Yes, I did Krithiga. Updated the post with the link.

  4. phantom363 (unregistered) on August 17th, 2006 @ 9:00 pm

    dr malcolm started a minority education trust after he returned to chennai. he had been in unesco for so long, and paid in dollars, that he felt the need for a broadbased education & charity trust, to serve the needy, regardless of their caste or creed. but the quirky way in which the indian constitution and the tax laws are set, had he followed his original intentions, he would have had to pay a fortune in taxes. the only way he could avoid handing over a big chunk of his money to the government, was to incorporate it as a minority christian trust. i wonder if his trust still exists and what the activities now are :)

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