Non Brahmin Leader: Late Mr. O. T. Chettiar

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Late Mr. O. T. Chettiar

A great leader of the non-brahmin community has passed away in the death of Dewan Bahadur O. Thanikachellam Chettiar, which took place on Sunday last. The late Mr. Thanikachellam was pre-eminently a self-made man. He had none of those adventitious circumstances as affluence of parents and influence of family to aid him in his early life. Naturally he started his career in a small way as a clerk in a firm of solicitors in Madras. But he had plenty of grit, energy and enterprise in him, and these qualities cleared for him the way to success. When the late Sir Theagaroya Chettiar started the Non-brahmin Movement, he found in “O.T” a very valuable lieutenant, capable of not only shouldering a good portion of the spade work that had to be done, but also of imparting to the movement a vitality and vigour which was so necessary to make it popular and respected. As a member of the Legislative Council, he won laurels, both as a debater and as a shrewd politician, of which few of his colleagues could boast; as a President of the corporation, he did work of a character which would for all time be remembered by the rate-payers of the city; lastly, as Chief Judge of the Small Causes Court, he demonstrated to the world at large that there was nothing like congenital incompetence in the case of Non-brahmin lawyers to occupy honoured positions on the bench – only they lacked opportunities at the hands of an unsympathetic Government to show their worth and capacity. There was nothing mean or mealy mouthed about him, he was as clean-minded as he was straightforward and not even his worst opponents could say of him, even while he was in the midst of bitter political fights, that he hit anyone below the belt. These qualities are so rare in politicians of the present day that one feels all the more oppressed and depressed in mind when one thinks of the death of such a good and great man at so early an age. May his soul rest in peace!

– Revolt, 28 July 1929

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