Biography of Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar

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Indian Politician Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar Biography

Diwan Bahadur Sir Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, KCSI (1887–1976) was an Indian lawyer, politician and statesman who served as a senior leader of the Justice Party and in various administrative and bureaucratic posts in pre-independence and independent India.

Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar Early Life

Ramasamy Mudaliar was born in an affluent Vellalar family of South Arcot in 1887. He was one of a pair of twins, the other being Arcot Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar.  He studied at Municipal High school, Kurnool and graduated in arts from Madras Christian College. On graduation, Mudaliar studied law and was nominated to the Madras Legislative Council.

Justice Party

Ramasamy Mudaliar was a part of the Justice Party ever since its inception in 1917 and served as its General Secretary.  In July 1918, Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar went to England along with Dr. T. M. Nair and Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu as a part of the Justice Party delegation to argue in favor of communal representation and give evidence before the Reforms Committee.

The evidence was taken just before Dr. Nair’s death on July 17, 1919. Ramasamy Mudaliar rose in stature gradually and began to be regarded as the “brain of the Justice Party”.

Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar assisted in coordinating between non-Brahmins in different parts of India and organizing non-Brahmin conferences. Mudaliar was a prominent orator and was known for his inspiring speeches.

In the elections to the Madras Legislative Council held on November 8, 1926, the Justice Party lost the elections winning just 21 of the 98 seats in the Council.  Mudaliar was one of the many who met with failure in the elections.
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Mudaliar took a temporary retirement from politics and replaced P. N. Raman Pillai as the editor of Justice, the mouthpiece of the Justice Party. Under Mudaliar, there was a tremendous growth in circulation and the Justice became widely popular.

On March 1, 1929, Mudaliar appeared before the Simon Commission along with Sir A. T. Paneerselvam another important leader of the Justice Party, to provide evidence on behalf of the Justice Party. Mudaliar served as the mayor of Madras from 1928 to 1930.

In 1935, Mudaliar resigned as the Chief Editor of Justice following his appointment to the Tariff Board. Mudaliar was knighted in the 1937 Coronation Honours List, by which time he was a member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India. He received the accolade at Buckingham Palace on 25 February 1937.

All India Non-Brahmin Movement

Mudaliar maintained friendly relations with Shahu Maharaj and non-Brahmin leaders from Maharashtra and parts of North India and helped in coordinating between and uniting leaders from different parts of India and in organizing non-Brahmin conferences.

Mudaliar was a participant in the Satara non-Brahmin Conference held in December 18, 1922. Rajaram II presided over this conference. He also participated in the All-India Non-Brahmin Conference held at Belgaum on December 26, 1924 where Mudaliar’s oratory was appreciated. At the Seventh Non-Brahmin Conference held on February 8, 1925, he appealed for unity amongst non-Brahmins.

Following the death of Sir P. T. Theagaroya Chetty in 1925, Ramasamy Mudaliar functioned as the sole link between Shahu Maharaj’s Satya Shodhak Samaj and the Justice Party. He assisted the Raja of Panagal in organizing an All-India Non-Brahmin Confederation at Victoria Hall, Madras on December 19, 1925. Mudaliar supported the candidature of B. V. Jadhav who was eventually appointed President.

On December 26, 1925, he organized a second conference at Amaravati. The conference comprised two sessions. The Maharaja of Kolhapur presided over the first while the Raja of Panagal presided over the second. In the second session of the Conference, Mudaliar said :

It was too late in the day for me to defend what was the Non-Brahmin movement. When its activities had spread from Bombay to Madras, from the Vindhya mountains to Cape Comorin, its very extent and the lightning rapidity with which its principles have pervaded the country will be the best justification of the Movement.

Mudaliar’s utterances at this conference became the target of the The Hindu which criticized him by saying that “the Speaker was desiring to produce an effect in another province, forced him to draw rather freely on his imagination”.

As member of the War Cabinet

Shortly before the Second World War broke out in 1939, Ramaswamy Mudaliar was appointed member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council. In June 1942, he was knighted again as a KCSI. In July 1942, Ramasamy Mudaliar was appointed to Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet, one of the two Indians nominated to the post,with equal rights and privileges as representatives from Britain’s dominions.

Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar As President of ECOSOC
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Portrait of Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar

Mudaliar served as India’s delegate to the United Nations at the San Francisco Conference between April 25 and June 26, 1945 where he chaired the committee which discussed economic and social problems.  Mudaliar was elected as the First President of the Economic and Social Council during its session at Church House, London, on January 23, 1946.

Under his presidency, the Economic and Social Council passed a resolution in February 1946 calling for an international health conference.  At the health conference which was eventually held on June 19, 1946, inaugurated by Sir Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, the World Health Organization came into being and the constitution for the new organization was read out and approved by delegates from 61 nations.

On the expiry of his one-year term, he returned to India and took over as the Chief Minister of Mysore.

As Chief Minister of Mysore

Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar took over as the Diwan or Chief Minister of Mysore in 1946. Arcot Ramaswamy Mudliar had advised His Highness Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar not to accede to the Independent India.

Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar Religious Beliefs

Despite his violent tirades against Varnashrama dharma and Hindu scriptures in his writings and editorials in the Justice, Ramasamy Mudaliar was known to be a staunch Vaishnavite. He regularly sported the Vaishnavite namam. Once while offered beef during a visit to England, he refused it with horror.

Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar Works

•    Searchlight on Council debates: speeches in the Madras Legislative Council. Orient Longman. 1960.
•    Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar (1987). Mirror of the year: a collection of Sir A. Ramaswami Mudaliar’s editorials in Justice, 1927. Dravidar Kazhagam.

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