Tiruvellore Thattai Krishnamachariar (1899-1974) was the Indian Finance Minister from 1956-1958 and from 1964-1966. Krishnamachariar, who was born into a Tamil Iyengar brahmin family graduated from Madras Christian College (MCC) and was a visiting professor to the department of economics at MCC. He resigned from the position twice.
T. T. Krishnamachari was popularly known as TTK.He was also a member of drafting committee,and entrepreneur and congress leader.
T. T. Krishnamachari Career
Krishnamachari was one among the founders of modern India. He was instrumental in building the basic economic and industrial infrastructure of the country and also left his mark on the Indian Constitution as a member of the Drafting Committee.
Krishnamachari began his life as a businessman and went on to lay the foundation of the hugely successful firm TT Krishnamachari & Co. in 1928, in Chennai, which is now known as the TTK Group. By the mid-thirties, when the company was well established, Krishnamachari decided to turn his attention to politics.
T. T. Krishnamachari was initially elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly as an independent member, and later joined the Congress. In 1946, he was made a member of the Constituent Assembly at the Centre.
From 1952 to 1965, he served the country twice as a Central Minister. He was the first Minister for Commerce and Industry and then Finance Minister. He also remained in charge of the Steel Ministry for quite some time. He became Minister again in 1962, first without portfolio, then the Minister for Economic and Defence Cooperation and finally Finance Minister, in 1964.
Krishnamachari was instrumental in setting up the country’s three major steel plants and financial institutions like IDBI, ICICI and UTI. He introduced path-breaking tax reforms during his stint as Finance Minister.
Embarking upon measures needed for providing social security, Krishnamachari expanded the pension scheme to cover family members of the deceased government servants by introducing a new Family Pension Scheme in 1964. He planned schemes like the Rajasthan Canal Schemes, Dandakaranya and Damodar Valley Projects.
The Neyveli Projects owe their existence to the fillip given by Krishnamachari. However, one of his major schemes called the Freight Equalization Policy made coal and other natural resources available in the Eastern part of India cheaply available to the other parts.
This led to constant deprivation of the eastern states like West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. On the other hand, the southern and the western states flourished since the commodities available there were not subjected to this discriminatory policy.
Feroze Gandhi had asked a Parliamentary question about the Life Insurance Corporation putting in 1.24 crore rupees in industrialist Haridas Mundhra’s sinking cited a commission of inquiry headed by Justice M.C. Chagla. The proceedings, which began on January 20, 1958, were open to the public which took a keen interest.
A large number of witnesses was examined under oath, including the then finance minister, T.T. Krishnamachari (TTK), and the principal finance secretary, H.K. Patel. It was over on the eleventh day and a comprehensive report was released by the government on February 13, 1958.
MUNDHRA SCANDAL (1957) :- It was the media that first hinted there might be a scam involving the sale of shares to LIC, Feroz Gandhi sources the confidential correspondence between the then Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari and his principal finance secretary, and raised a question in Parliament on the sale of ‘fraudulent’ shares to LIC by a Calcutta-based Marwari businessman named Haridas Mundhra.
The then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, set up a one-man commission headed by Justice M.C.Chagla to investigate the matter when it becomes evident that there was a prima facie case.
Chagla concluded that Mundhra had sold fictitious shares to LIC, thereby defrauding the insurance behemoth to the tune of Rs. 1.25 crore. Mundhra was sentenced to 22 years in prison. The scam also forced the resignation of T.T.Krishnamachari.
T. T. Krishnamachari Later Life
T. T. Krishnamachari resigned from the post of Minister in 1965 after his term as Lok Sabha member was over and led an intellectually active life till illness overtook him.