Tube Investments of India
Tube Investments of India
Tube Investments of India Ltd.
Formerly TI Financial Holdings Ltd.
A signal contributor to Madras

John Alves Arbuthnot
John Alves Arbuthnot

Smack in the middle of celebrating its 175th year of existence is the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry, founded as the Madras Chamber of Commerce on September 29, 1836, with 18 members, only one of whom was Indian, Sidloo Chetty. Teroocawmy Naidu was invited to join a few months later.

John Alves Arbuthnot of Arbuthnot's was the first Chairman, and his Committee comprised J.W. Dare (Parry's), James Scott (Binny's) J. Pugh (Parry's) John Line (Line & Co.), J. Barrow (Barrow & Co.), and J. Ouchterlony (Ouchterlony & Co.).

The other members represented Fischer & Co. and Guichard & Co. (possibly German and French firms, respectively), Seth Sam & Co. (a Jewish company), G. Sidloo Chetty & Co., and J.G. Tulloch & Co. For years, the ABP of Madras, Arbuthnot's, Binny's and Parry's dominated the Chamber. The Administrator-General (Peter Cator) and the Advocate-General (George Norton) were the other two members.

The first Indian chairman, A.M.M. Murugappa Chettiar of Tube Investments (a firm with strong British links), took office in 1965 but passed away within a few months. The first Indian chairman to serve a full term was John K. John in 1967; he was the first Indian vice-chairman and managing director of Parry's. A.M.M. Arunachalam was the next Indian chairman, in 1969, the year the Chamber got its first Indian secretary, C.S. Krishnaswami. From 1972, the chairmen have been Indian.

In many ways, the Chamber's most significant contribution to Madras was its almost single-minded pursuit of getting the city a safe harbour. From as early as 1845, it was endorsing to Government proposals it received for developing a harbour.

It was eventually 1886 before the Chamber got the kind of harbour it was satisfied with, but it was another 30 years before Madras got a harbour that received the approval of international shipping.

It was as late as 1966 that the Chamber recognised that it also had a role to play in industry and changed its name to the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry.