Shri. Karumuthu Thiagaraja Chettiar affectionately called "Kalaithanthai" meaning "Father of Arts" founded the Thiagarajar School of Management (TSM) which was the first of its kind institution in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. The textile honcho “Shri Karumuthu Thiagaraja Chettiar”, popularly known as “Karumuthu”, was born in the year 1893. After completing his Education in India & Ceylon, he started his career as an assistant editor in the Ceylon English daily "Morning Leader". He fought for the rights of Tamil labourers in plantations in the then Ceylon. He contributed articles and also published a book titled "Indian Immigrant on Ceylon Estates". His persistent efforts made the Government to offer better working conditions to the labourers. This was a phenomenal achievement at the age of 22. He returned to India from Ceylon in 1916 and joined the Congress in 1917 and became President of the labour wing.
He established Meenakshi Mills Ltd. in Madurai in the year 1921 and went on to establish as many as 18 Textile Mills. Besides, he also acquired sugar factories at Pandiarajapuram and Thanuku in South India. Subsequently the renowned P.ORR & Sons Pvt. Ltd, Chennai came under his wings of effective management. He also ventured into other industries like Banking (Bank of Madura), Insurance (Madura Insurance which after nationalisation merged with United India Insurance) and News Paper (Tamil Nadu).
During one of his business trips to Calcutta, he visited Shantiniketan, where he met Sir Rabindranath Tagore. Inspired by Viswabharathi University, he started many charitable trusts, like Thiagarajar Endowment, in 1944, Thiagarajar Dharma Vanigam in 1948, Thiagarajar College Endowment Trust in 1951, the Thiagarajar Charities in 1962, and Thiagarajar Educational Trust. In 1947, he started "Visalakshi Kalasalai" in his native place A. Thekkur. In 1959, the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the spacious building as well as the adjoining hostel accommodation of this institute.
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