Tamil Nadu

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Tamil Nadu
Map of India with Tamil Nadu highlighted.
Capital
Coordinates
Chennai
13.09° N 80.27° E
Largest city Chennai
Population (2001)
Density
62,110,839 ( 6)
• 478/km²
Area
Districts
130,058 km² ( 11)
• 30
Time zone IST ( UTC +5:30)
Establishment
Governor
Chief Minister
Legislature (seats)
1967- 07-18
Surjith Singh Barnala ( list)
J Jayalalithaa ( list)
Unicameral (235)
Official language(s) Tamil
Website tn.gov.in
Abbreviation (ISO) IN-TN
Seal of Tamil Nadu Government

Seal of Tamil Nadu
Established in 1773, renamed Tamil Nadu on July 18th 1967 [1]

Tamil Nadu (தமிழ் நாடு, " Land of the Tamils") is a state at the southern tip of India. The bordering states/territories are Pondicherry, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The island nation of Sri Lanka, which has a significant Tamil minority, lies off the southeast coast.

Tamil Nadu is the second most industrialized state in India. Unlike most other parts of the country, Tamil Nadu gets its rainfall largely from the "North-East monsoon" in the months of October-December. There is a long standing dispute with Karnataka over the matter of water from the Kaveri River. The river flows south from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, and both regions draw on water from the river, prompting concerns over whether the upper riparian Karnataka has released its fair share of river water to the lower riparian Tamil Nadu.

Chennai, which was known until 1996 as Madras, is the 4th largest city of India and the state capital. Also known as the auto capital of India, Chennai is the home of Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world. Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, Salem and Tirunelveli are other large cities of Tamil Nadu.

History

Tamil Nadu's recorded history dates back about 6000 years and the origin of its people is closely tied to the debates of the Aryan invasion theory. Those who uphold this theory favour the view that the Tamils belong to the Dravidian race and were part of the early Indus Valley settlers. But recent historical evidence questions the Aryan invasion theory.

Tamil Nadu was constituted by various kingdoms such as that of the Pallava, Chera, the Chola Empire and the Pandya.

The history of the Pandyan kingdom dates as early as 6th century BC. Madurai was founded by the first Pandyan king Kulasekara. The Pandyas excelled in trade and learning. They controlled the present districts of Madurai, Tirunelveli, and part of south Kerala. The Pandyas had trading contacts with Greece and Rome and were powerful in their own right, though they were subjugated during various periods by the Pallavas and Cholas.

The kingdom of the Cheras comprised of the modern state of Kerala, along the western or Malabar Coast of southern India. Their proximity to the sea favoured trade with Africa. This region still boasts of a few Jewish settlers and people of Arab origin. Many Maronite Christians and Syrian Catholics still live in the region.

1st to 9th centuries

The early Cholas reigned between 1st and 4th centuries A.D. The first and the most famous king of this period was Karikalan, who built the Kallanai (kall - stone, anai - bund), a dam across the Kaveri River, which is considered to be an engineering marvel of that time. The Cholas occupied the present Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli districts and excelled in military exploits. In the height of their glory, the Chola kings had spread their influence as far as Ceylon (SriLanka) in the south and hundreds of kilometers across the northern region. As is common amongst the Tamil kings, the Cholas revelled in building magnificent temples. Brahadeswarer's Temple or more popularly called as the Big temple in Tanjore (Thanjavur)is a classical example of the magnificent architecture of the Chola kingdom.

Around A.D. 580, the Pallavas, great temple builders, emerged into prominence and dominated the south for another 150 years. They ruled a large portion of Tamil Nadu with Kanchipuram as their base. They subjugated the Cholas and reigned as far as Sri Lanka. Among the greatest Pallava rulers were Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman. Dravidian architecture reached its epitome during Pallava rule. The last great Pallava King was Rajasimha, whose death in A.D. 728 ended the glorious days of the Pallavas. Though his successors ruled over smaller territories, the rise of later Cholas ended Pallava domination. The last independent Pallava king Aparajitha was defeated by Aditya Chola towards the end of the 9th century.

9th to 13th centuries

The Medieval Cholas again rose to power by the 9th century. Under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose as a notable power in Asia. The Chola Empire stretched as far as the Himalaya Mountains and West Bengal. Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, and annexed parts of Sri Lanka by defeating the Pandyas. Rajendra Chola went beyond, occupying coastal Burma, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya in South East Asia and Pegu islands with his fleet of ships. He defeated Mahipala, the king of Bihar and Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital called Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Chola armies exacted tribute from Thailand and Cambodia. The power of the Cholas declined around the 13th century. The Cholas were the first Indian empire to engage in naval conquest overseas.

14th century

With the decline of the Cholas, the Pandyas rose to prominence once again in the early 14th century. This was short lived -- they were soon subdued by Muslim Khilji invaders from the north in 1316. The city of Madurai was ransacked and completely destroyed. The invasion weakened both the Cholas and Pandyas and led to the establishment of Bahmani Kingdom in the northern Deccan.

This 14th century invasion caused a retaliatory reaction from the Hindus, who rallied to build a strong new kingdom, called the Vijayanagara empire. It absorbed all strongholds of Cholas and other local Hindu rulers to check the Muslims. Governors called Nayaks were engaged to run different territories of the empire. With Hampi as the Capital, Vijayanagar Empire was the most prosperous dynasty in the south. But by 1564 the empire came to an end at the hands of Deccan sultans in the battle of Talikota. The empire was split into many parts and was given to the Nayaks to rule. Tamil Country under the Telugu Nayaks was peaceful and prosperous. The Nayaks of Madurai and Thanjavur were most prominent of them all. They reconstructed some of the oldest temples in the country.

17th century

Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat. In 1639, the British, under the British East India Company, established a settlement further south, in present day Chennai. The British used petty quarrels among the provincial rulers ( divide and rule) to expand their sphere of influence.

The British fought with the various European powers, notably the French at Vandavasi (Wandiwash) in 1760, and the Dutch at Tharangambadi (Tranquebar), driving the Dutch away entirely, and reducing the French dominions in India to Pondicherry. The British also fought four wars with the Kingdom of Mysore under Hyder Ali and later his son Tipu Sultan, which led to their eventual domination of India's south. They consolidated southern India into the Madras Presidency.

Some notable Chieftains or Poligars who fought the British East India Company as it was expanding, were Veerapandya Kattabomman, Maruthus and Pulithevan.

20th century

When India became independent in 1947, Madras Presidency became Madras State, comprising of present day Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh, northern Kerala, and the southwest coast of Karnataka.

The state was subsequently split up along linguistic lines. In 1953 the northern districts formed Andhra State, later Andhra Pradesh, and Bellary district was split between Andhra and Mysore states. Under the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, Madras State lost its western coastal districts. South Kanara District was ceded to Mysore state, and Malabar District became the northern half of the new Malayalam-speaking state of Kerala. The predominantly Tamil-speaking Kanyakumari District, formerly part of the state of Travancore-Cochin, was transferred to Madras. In 1968, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, partly to resist the imposition of Hindi as a national language by the Central Government.

Politics

Tamil Nadu had a bicameral legislature until 1986, when it was replaced with a unicameral legislature, like most other states in India.

  • Number of Lok Sabha Constituencies : 39
  • Number of Assembly Constituencies : 234

Regional parties have dominated state politics since 1967. One of the earliest regional parties was the South Indian Welfare Association, which was founded in 1916. It came to be known as the Justice Party after the name of its English-language daily, Justice.

E.V. Ramasami Naicker, popularly known as "Periyar", renamed the party Dravidar Kazhagam in 1944. DK was a non-political party which demanded the establishment of an independent state called Dravida Nadu. However, due to the differences between its two leaders Periyar and C.N. Annadurai, the party was split. Annadurai left the party to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.The DMK decided to enter into politics in 1956. Nineteenth century Western scholars thought that Dravidian speakers were earlier inhabitants of India than the speakers of the Indo-Aryan languages in the north of the country. It was supposed that the generally darker-skinned Dravidians constituted a distinct race. This notion corresponded to racial hierarchies of the time according to which darker skinned peoples were more primitive than light-skinned whites. Accordingly, Dravidians were envisaged as primitive early inhabitants of India who had been partially displaced and subordinated by more advanced Aryans.

This concept has affected thinking in India about racial and regional differences and has informed aspects of Tamil nationalism, which has at times appropriated the claim that Dravidians are the earliest inhabitants of India in order to argue that other populations were oppressive interlopers from which Dravidians should liberate themselves. The discovery of the Indus Valley Civilisation in the 1920s, which was attributed to the displaced Dravidians of the north, further fuelled such Dravidianist ideas since it implied that the Indo-Aryans were uncivilised barbarians rather than a "superior race".

Nehru's grant of a seperate state essentially forced Tamil nationalism off stage. Instead Tamil regional parties now fight for access to the centra and between each other. The Anti-Hindi agitations in mid- 1960s made the DMK more popular and more powerful in the state. The DMK routed the Congress Party in the 1967 elections and took control of the state government, ending Congress's stronghold in Tamil Nadu. M. Karunanidhi became the party's leader after the death of Annadurai in 1969.

Karunanidhi's leadership was soon challenged by M.G. Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR. in 1972, he split from DMK and formed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). He was the Chief Minister of the state from 1977 until his death in 1987. After the death of MGR, the party split again into two factions, one led by Janaki Ramachandran, wife of MGR, and the other led by J. Jayalalithaa. After the defeat of AIADMK in 1989 assembly polls, both factions were merged and Jayalalithaa took control of the party. She was elected as the General Secretary of the unified AIADMK. There have been splits in both the DMK and the AIADMK, but since 1967 one of those two parties has held power in the state. Currently, the leader of the AIADMK, J. Jayalilathaa, is the Chief Minister of the state. List of political parties in the state List of Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu

Population

Tamil Nadu's population stood at 62,110,839 as of 00.00 hours of March 1, 2001. It is the sixth most populous State of the Indian Union behind Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. The State accounts for 6.05% of the country's population. Its population density at 478 persons per square kilometre, up from 429 in 1991, and much higher than the all-India density of 324, makes it the eleventh most densely populated State (1991 rank:10) [2]. Approximately 47% of Tamil Nadu's population live in urban areas, one of the highest percentages in India [3].

During the decade 1991-2001, Tamil Nadu reported the second lowest decadal growth in population after Kerala, among the group of States with population exceeding 20 million in 2001. While Kerala's population grew by 9.42% between 1991 and 2001, Tamil Nadu's grew by 11.19%. In fact, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Orissa are the only three States in this group to have shown a decline in decadal percentage change in population in every decade since 1971.

Culture

Tamil Civilization is one of the oldest in the World. Unique cultural features, like Tanjore paintings, Bharatanatyam and Tamil architecture, give Tamil Nadu a heritage to be proud of. Tamil Chola kings conquered lands as far North as the Himalayas, and as far East as Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. The world's oldest dam was built across the Kaveri river in Tamil Nadu by King Karikala Chola. Today, the rapidly increasing IT boom in Tamil Nadu cities like Chennai and Coimbatore makes Tamil Nadu the economic hotspot of India. Today, the Tamil Indians preserve their Tamil culture, while being proud Indians and active global citizens.

Tamil Nadu is known for its rich tradition of literature, music and dance which continue to flourish today. It is one of the most progressive and industrialized states in India. Tamil is the official language of Tamil Nadu (as well as one of the official languages of India).

Tamil Nadu is also home to the large Tamil film industry, producing a huge number of Tamil films each year. Chennai has often been referred to as Kollywood, a conflation of Hollywood and Kodambakkam (the section of Chennai that houses the cinema related facilities).

Festivals in Tamil Nadu starts with traditional kolam
Festivals in Tamil Nadu starts with traditional kolam

Pongal, a four-day harvest festival, is the most celebrated festival of Tamil Nadu. It is then followed in importance by Diwali. Tamil New Year, which generally falls on either April 14 or 15 of the English calendar, is another event of celebration. The first month in the tamil calendar is Chittirai. Apart from these, other national festivals like Dasara, Holi and Vinayaka Chathurthi are also celebrated.

In addition the Velankanni Church and The Nagore mosque stand testimony to the secular and multi-religious nature of the state.

Economy

Mahindra city, Chennai,  India's first Corporate Special Economic Zone
Mahindra city, Chennai, India's first Corporate Special Economic Zone

Possessing the third largest economy (2004-2005) among states in India, Tamil Nadu is also the second most industrialised state next to Maharastra. [4] It ranks second in per capita income (2004-2005) among large states. It ranks third in foreign direct investment approvals (cumulative 1991-2002) of Rs.22,582.64 crore ($5 Billion USD), next only to Maharashtra (Rs.36,602.41 Crore ($8,100 million)) and Delhi (Rs.30,303.79 Crore ($6.7 Billion USD). The State's investment constitutes 9.12% of the total FDI in the country [5]. Unlike many other states, the economic resources are quite spread out, rather than concentrated in a small industrialised area.


According to the 2001 Census, Tamil Nadu has the highest level of urbanization (43.86%) in India, accounting for 6% of India’s total population and 9.6% of the urban population. Tamil Nadu has a network of about 110 industrial parks and estates offering developed plots with supporting infrastructure [6] [7]. Also, the state government is promoting other industrial parks like Rubber Park, Apparel Parks, Floriculture Park, TICEL Park for Biotechnology [8], Siruseri IT Park, and Agro Export Zones among others.


The Tamil Nadu state government owns the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers (TNPL) [9], the world's biggest bagasse based Paper mills in Karur as well as the world's sixth largest manufacturer of watches together with TATA, under the brandname of "Titan" [10]. 55% of all wind-generated electricity in India is created by windmills in Tamil Nadu. Renowned Danish wind power company NEG Micon has established its manufacturing unit in Chennai. [11] Tamilnadu is leading producer of Cement in India, it is the home for leading cement brands in the country such as Chettinad cements(Karur), Dalmia cements(Dalmiapuram), Ramco cements (Madras cement ltd.,), etc.,


Annual Plan outlays have increased by a record 75% from Rs.5,200 crore ($1.1 Billion USD) in 2001-2 to Rs.9,100 crore ($2 Billion USD) in 2005-6.

Textiles

The textile industry plays a significant role in the Indian economy by providing direct employment to an estimated 35 million people, and thereby contributing 4% of GDP and 35% of Gross Export Earnings. The textile sector contributes to 14% of the manufacturing sector. The city of Tirupur, in Tamil Nadu is the largest garment exporter in India and sometimes referred to as Textile valley of India. In 2004, the export turnover from the town was more than Rs 5,000 Crore ($1,100 million USD). Some 7,000 garment units in the town provides employment opportunity to 1 million people. 56% of India's total knitwear exports come from Tirupur. The Export Import Policy of 2002-2007 acknowledges Tirupur for its contribution to the export efforts. Next to Tirupur, the city of Karur generates around $300 million USD a year in foreign exchange through home textile exports such as bed linens, kitchen linens, toilet linens, table linens and wall hangings. [12].

Industry & Manufacturing

Many heavy engineering and manufacturing-based companies are centered around the suburbs of Chennai (nicknamed, "The Detroit of India"). Chennai boasts the presence of global vehicle manufacturing giants like Ford, Caterpillar, Hyundai, BMW and Mitsubishi as well as indigenous companies like MRF, TI cycles of India, Ashok Leyland, Royal Enfield, TAFE(Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited) and TVS. Everything from automobiles, railway coaches, battle-tanks, tractors, motorbikes and heavy vehicles are manufactured here. Karur is known for its bus body building industries where most of the buses used in south India are manufactured.

The Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant, Neyveli Lignite Power Plant, Vriddachalam Ceramics and the Narimanam Natural Gas Plants are major sources of Tamil Nadu's electricity. As of 2005, Tamil Nadu is one of the few Indian states with surplus power electricity, enabling the electrical authority to sell it to neighbouring states. India's leading steel producer SAIL has a steel plant in Salem, Tamilnadu [13].

Electronics manufacturing is a growing industry in Tamil Nadu. Companies like Nokia, Flextronics and Foxconn have chosen Chennai as their South Asian manufacturing hub. Products manufactured include circuit boards and cellular phone handsets [14]. Ericsson also has an R&D facility in Chennai.

The town of Sivakasi is a leader in the areas of printing, fireworks, and safety matches. It was fondly called as Kutty Japan or "little Japan" by Dr. Jawaharlal Nehru. It contributes to 80% of India's production of safety matches as well as 90% of India's total fireworks production. Sivakasi provides over 60% of India's total offset printing solutions and ranks as one of the highest taxpaying towns in India. Sivakasi also is a 100% employed town, putting it in the company of very few towns in India.

Agriculture

Tamil Nadu has historically been an agricultural state, while its advances in other fields launched the state into competition with other areas. Even so, Tamil Nadu is a leading producer of agricultural products in India. Tamil Nadu agriculture is heavily dependent on the river water and Monsoon rains. The perennial rivers are Palar, Cheyyar, Ponnaiyar, Kaveri, Meyar, Bhavani, Amaravati, Vaigai, Chittar & Tamaraparani. Non-perennial rivers include the Vellar, Noyal, Suruli, Gundar, Vaipar, Valparai and Varshali. Tamil Nadu is also the leading producer of Kambu, Cholam, Rye, ground nuts, oil, seeds and sugar cane in India. At present Tamil Nadu is India's second biggest producer of rice, next to Punjab where there is perennial source of irrigation. [15]. Tamil Nadu is the home to Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, known as the "father of the Green Revolution" in India. [16]. The town of Namakkal is also known as the Poulty hub of India.

Software

Chennai is the second leading Software exporter in India, after Bangalore. India's largest IT park is housed at Chennai. Software exports from Tamil Nadu rose from Rs.7,600 Crore ($1,600 million) in 2003-04 to Rs.11,000 Crore ($2.4 Billion USD) in 2004-05. [17]. Chennai is a hub for e-publishing, as there are 47 e-publishing units registered with the STPI in Chennai and 25 in Bangalore. Companies such as TCS, Satyam, Infosys, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Covansys, Ford Information Technology, Xansa, Verizon, iSoft, iNautix, Electronic Data Systems and many others have offices in Chennai. Infosys Technologies has set up India's largest software development centre to house 25,000 software professionals at an estimated investment of Rs 1,250 Crore ($270 million USD) in Chennai [18]. India's largest IT park is housed at Chennai, jointly made by Ascendas India Ltd, a Singapore-based company engaged in providing business space solutions, and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) [19].

Businees Process Outsourcing Services

Chennai is now emerging as the most preferred destination for high-end BPOs in financial services, healthcare and other back-office services for multinational companies. Companies like Congruent Solutions (back-end services for California-based retirement funds), Secova eServices (HR service provider for US clients), Lason India (data processing for healthcare and financial services clients in the US) and OfficeTiger (outsourcing of creative works) have set up centres here to take advantage of Chennai's "quality talent pool and infrastructure". Stanchart, eServe (Citibank), ABN AMRO and World Bank have also chosen the city for their back-office functions. [20]

Knowledge Process Oursourcing

Chennai is also the preferred destination for companies outsourcing their high end knowledge intensive operations. Testimony to this is the presence of major market research companies such as Frost & sullivan and equity research companies such as Irevna in Chennai. This is the next high growth area that Chennai is witnessing

E-Governance

Tamil Nadu has been a pioneering state in E-Governance initiatives in India. A large part of the government records like land ownership records are already digitised and all major offices of the state government like land registration offices, and transport offices have been computerized, thereby improving the quality of service and transparency in operations.

Social development

The Dravidian movement, which began in Tamil Nadu, claimed to uplift the socially repressed classes, but drew its main support from the middle castes. Educating the people and eradicating superstitions were some of their objectives. They had a commitment to social justice which led to the expansion of reservation for the middle castes (or other backward classes - OBCs) and the lower castes and tribes (the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes). Today many of India's premier educational institutions such as IIT-Madras, Chennai; Anna University; Chennai; Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai; Regional Engineering College, Trichy; Chennai Medical College, Chennai and TamilNadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore are some of the many premier instituions of the state. Tamil Nadu has also performed reasonably well in terms of literacy growth during the decade 1991-2001. The State's literacy rate increased from 62.66% in 1991 to 73.47% in 2001. [21]

The Mid day Meal Program in Tamil Nadu program, initiated by Kamarajar Kamaraj, was expanded considerably during the rule of the AIADMK in 1983. It feeds over a fifth of the state's population. The other event is "Entry in Vaikkom Temple"

Magsaysay Award winner from Tamil Nadu

  • Aruna Roy, Chennai
  • Jockin Arputham, Mumbai
  • Dr. V Shanta, Chennai
  • Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Chennai
  • M.S. Subbulakshmi, Madurai
  • T.N. Seshan, Chennai

Districts

There are 30 Districts in Tamil Nadu, with Krishnagiri District being the 30th with headquarters at Krishnagiri, by bifurcating the Dharmapuri district

  • Chennai
  • Coimbatore
  • Cuddalore
  • Dharmapuri
  • Dindigul
  • Erode
  • Kanchipuram
  • Kanyakumari
  • Karur
  • Krishnagiri
  • Madurai
  • Nagapattinam
  • Namakkal
  • Perambalur
  • Pudukkottai
  • Ramanathapuram
  • Salem
  • Sivaganga
  • Thanjavur
  • The Nilgiris
  • Theni
  • Thoothukudi
  • Tiruchirapalli
  • Tirunelveli
  • Tiruvallur
  • Tiruvannamalai
  • Tiruvarur
  • Vellore
  • Viluppuram
  • Virudhunagar
Map showing Districts of Tamil Nadu
Map showing Districts of Tamil Nadu

Tourism

A view of temple tank and gopuram at Uthirakosamangai temple in Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu, south India.
A view of temple tank and gopuram at Uthirakosamangai temple in Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu, south India.

Tamil Nadu is a land of varied beauty. It is mostly famous for its numerous Hindu temples based on the Dravidian architecture. The temples are of a distinct style which is famous for its towering Gopuram. Popular temple towns include Madurai, Trichy, Tanjore, Kanchipuram, Palani, Swamithoppe, Tiruvallur and Mahabalipuram. The most famous temple is the Brahadeeswara temple in Thanjavur that is about 1000 years old and is on the UNESCO's World Heritage Site list. Tamil Nadu also has the Navagraha temples that are a popular pilgrim circuit. Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of peninsular India, is famous for its distinct and beautiful sunrise, Vivekanda Rock Memorial on the mid-sea, Thiruvalluvar statue and has some very green hilly landscape and picture-postcard perfect sceneries around the district and Nagercoil. Hill stations like Kodaikanal and Nilgiris boast some of the stunning landscapes in India. The Nilgiris also has one of the two mountain Railways in India and is being evaluated for the UNESCO's World Heritage Site list. The Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary located in Gudalur near the border of Karnataka known for its elephants, tigers and deer and the Pitchavaram Mangrove forests located in Chidambaram are two of the many eco-tourism spots of importance.

Famous Tamilians of Modern era

Politics

  • Thanthai Periyar-Founder of Dravida kazhagam
  • Kamaraj - Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (1954-63). former President of Indian National Congress
  • C.N.Annadurai- Founding leader of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (1949-69); Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (1967-69)
  • E.V. Ramasami Naicker (Periyar) - Founding leader of Self Respect Association (1925-38) and Dravidar Kazhagam (1944-73)
  • Dr. C Subramaniam Bharat Ratna - Political founder of India's Green Revolution
  • C. Rajagopalachari - The second Governor-General of independent India, and later, Chief Minister
  • M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) - filmstar and founding leader of the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), later renamed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIDADMK); Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, 1977-87; of Malayali ancestry; nevertheless became the most popular political leader in post-independence Tamil Nadu and an important figure in Tamil popular culture
  • M. Karunanidhi - leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (1969-now); Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, 1969-76, 1988-89, 1996-2001
  • Sellapan Ramanathan - The sixth and current President of Singapore
  • P. Chidambaram - Present Finance Minister of India


Bharat Ratna

Tamil Nadu has the most number of highest civilian awardee( Bharat Ratna) in India

  • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
  • C. Rajagopalachari
  • C.V. Raman
  • K. Kamaraj
  • M.G. Ramachandran
  • A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
  • M.S. Subbulakshmi
  • C. Subramaniam

Science

  • Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman - Nobel Laureate, in Physics, for his contributions to the Raman Effect
  • Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar - Nobel Laureate, in Physics, for his contributions to Chandrasekhar limit (astrophysics)
  • Dr APJ Abdul Kalam - President of India and rocket scientist ( 2005)
  • Dr R. Chidambaram, "Principal scientific advisor" to the government of India and former director of DAE, was a key person in India's nuclear tests.
  • Dr K. Kasturirangan, Former director of "ISRO" and present director of National institute of advanced studies (NIAS).
  • Dr. Sivathanu Pillai - Head of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
  • Dr. M. S. Swaminathan (Agricultural Scientist) - Scientific founder of India's Green Revolution
  • Srinivasa Ramanujan - formerly a child prodigy, he later became known as one of the world's greatest mathematicians

Sports

  • Viswanathan Anand - Chess Grandmaster
  • Narain Karthikeyan - Only Indian to enter Formula One car racing
  • Mahesh Bhupathi - Professional tennis player
  • Vijay Amritraj - International Tennis Champion, Commentator, Film producer & Actor
  • Ramesh Krishnan - Professional tennis player
  • Krishnamachari Srikanth - Cricket player and former Indian Team's Captain
  • Srinivas Venkataraghavan - ex-Indian Cricket Captain and Test umpire
  • Lakshmipathy Balaji - Cricketer
  • Nasser Hussain - former England Cricket Captain
  • Murugan Thiruchelvam - chess player
  • Dhanraj Pillay - Former Indian hockey team's captain.

Industrialists

  • Shiv Nadar - 126th richest person in the world with an estimated personal net worth $3.7 billion. Founder and Chairman of HCL group
  • M A Chidambaram - Industrialist
  • Indra Nooyi - CFO of PepsiCo US
  • S. Ramadorai - CEO of Tata Consultancy Services
  • R. Chidambaram - Scientific Adviser to Prime Minister; ex-Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission
  • S Dhanabalan - Chairman, DBS Bank (Singapore)
  • J.Y.Pillay - Chairman, Singapore Exchange (stock market)

Arts

  • M.S. Subbulakshmi - Noted Carnatic singer, who had uniqueness of singing in UNESCO dias.
  • Subramanya Bharathy - Renowned poet, considered the founding figure of modern Tamil poetry; associated with the Indian independence movement; his poetry and journalistic contributions provided arguments for changing caste relations or dissolving caste boundaries, women's empowerment, improvement of the life conditions of the poor
  • Dr. M.S. Udhayamoorthy - Noted social worker, businessman, writer and close friend of arignar Annadurai
  • Ilayaraaja - Maestro of Indian Film music composer; composed scores for over 840 films
  • Sivaji Ganesan - Actor and politician
  • Maniratnam - Film Director, directed around 17 films including Nayagan, Roja, Iruvar, Kannathil Muthamittal, etc
  • A. R. Rahman - Film Music Composer, one of the talented music directors in India.
  • Kamal Hasan - Actor
  • Rajinikanth - Actor
  • Bala Pillai- Inventor/Producer/Ceo, Thinker, Inventor of Tamil Mind Colonies

Administrators

  • B. Sivaraman, former Cabinet Secretary
  • M.M. Rajendran, former Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu (1988-91) and former Governor of Orissa (1999-2004)

Cultural icons

  • Veena Dhanammal
  • Rukmini Devi Arundale
  • M.S. Subbulakshmi Bharat Ratna awardee
  • D. K. Pattammal
  • Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer,
  • Medha Hari, Bharatanatyam dancer
  • Sudharani Raghupathy - Bharatanatyam guru
  • Padma Subramaniam - Bharatanatyam guru
  • Chitra Vishweshwaran - Bharatanatyam guru

Nobel laureates

  • Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman
  • Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Religious

  • Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Hindu Seer & Spiritual preceptor

Others

  • Velupillai Prabhakaran - Leader of the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka
  • Varadharajan Mudaliar, known as Vardha Bhai; former prominent underworld kingpin
  • Veerappan, Sandalwood smuggler and forest brigand

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