Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar: The Life and Legacies of a Visionary
About the Book
In this book, Dr. K. Vairavan presents an inspiring portrait of a great son of Chettinad, South India: Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar and his many lasting legacies. Few individuals in history have reached the heights of achievement and philanthropy as Alagappa Chettiar (AC) did in a short lifetime of 48 years. AC was a pioneering industrialist, a tireless promoter of education, and a renowned philanthropist whose generosity knew no bounds. Above all, he was a visionary with a brilliant mind and a magnetic personality.
AC ranks among the rare industrialists and philanthropists who helped launch a post-independent India on a course to become a modern nation. Most people familiar with AC may think of him as a man who transformed Karaikudi, the once sleepy town in Chettinad, into a prominent South Indian city populated with a congregation of educational and research institutions of extraordinary range, including the Central Electrochemical Research Institute (a major national research laboratory). But in fact even before 1947, when he began his ambitious Karaikudi journey, AC was an accomplished entrepreneur who had supported numerous causes throughout the country.
AC channeled most of the fortune he made from his diverse businesses to promote education at all levels by recognising its critical importance for the future of India. His special support for engineering education came at a time when leaders in India voiced the urgent need to train technologists and engineers for advancing the country's economic development.
Amazingly, AC achieved many great things though beset by a background of tragedy in his early life and poor health in most of his adult life. This book is a story of a man of exceptional courage, achievement and generosity. It is a story of how one determined visionary, facing major hurdles, boldly broke new ground and accomplished so much, positively transforming the lives of countless people. It is a story that can move and inspire anyone who becomes familiar with it.
About the Author
Dr. K. Vairavan, a native of Kandanur in Chettinad, South India, received his undergraduate education at the College of Engineering, Guindy (University of Madras). He obtained his MS from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and his PhD from the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Vairavan established an illustrious academic career at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), where he is now an Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His professional activities include work in NASA and National Science Foundation research projects, Bell Telephone Laboratories, the University of Notre Dame, and Hiroshima University (Japan), and technical consulting for many organisations.
At UWM, he served as the founding Chairman of the Computer Science Programme, and helped to build it over several years. Dr. Vairavan's many contributions to educational programme development at UWM include an interdisciplinary PhD in Medical Informatics in 2004. He served as the Co-Director of this doctoral programme – developed in collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin, till his retirement in 2008. He also founded and chaired the Computer Science Industrial Advisory Council at UWM, leading this advisory group of representatives from many large and small companies in Wisconsin.