:: History



Sir M. Venkatasubba Rao was born on the 18th of July, 1878. After a Brilliant academic career, he graduated from The Madras Christian College. On securing his B.L. Degree, he became apprenticed to Sir C.V. Kumaraswamy Sastri. He was enrolled as a Vakil in July 1903. In July 1904, he formed a partnership with Mr. Radhakrishnaya, his college mate, and they practiced under the name of Venkatasubba Rao and Radhakrishnaya.

In the space of few years, Sir M. Venkatasubba Rao become one of the leaders of the Bar. His forte was on the Original Side. He was appointed Judge of the Madras High Court in 1921. His appointment was unique in two ways. He was the first practitioner on the Original Side to be appointed a Judge. Secondly, he was the youngest person to sit on the bench of the Madras High Court.

In the year 1922, he married Andalamma. This marriage was a milestone in his life, in as much as together with her, he was able to implement his passion for social welfare and reform, in founding the Madras SevaSadan.

For his outstanding ability as a Judge, he was knighted in 1936.

After serving as a Judge for about 17 years, he retired in 1939 as the acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.

Later in 1939, he was appointed as the Agent for Berar of the Nizam of Hyderabad. This choice fell on him and it was given to himas the first agent to lay the foundation, to divise the pattern and set the tradition of the high and unique office which had no precedence to fall back on.

He will always be remembered first and foremost as one of the greatest Judges who adorned the Madras High Court.

Sir M. Venkatasubba Rao's judicial career was marked by his passion for justice, complete independence of outlook and adherence to the truth as he saw it. He had an iron will and never accepted conformity or ready acquiescence as a principle of action. As a result, his long judicial career was one of the most successful and eventful in Madras Legal History. Sir M. Venkatasubba Rao had a passion for thoroughness which he carried into his everyday life. He hated shoddiness and disorder. He was scrupulously particular about dress and food. Cleanliness was to him a part of Godliness. Then again, in his public activities, he was equally thorough. He could not tolerate anything slipshod, anything vague and equivocal or anything which was underhand. He was always a great kind and courteous. He was a great philanthropist, giving away a great part of his wealth for social causes, in particular to the Madras Seva Sadan.

Another great passion of his was for Social Reform. He stood for the rights of women and their status in Hindu Society. The Madras Seva Sadan is a standing monument of his zeal and enthusiasm to uplift Indian women.

At the age of 82 years, on 30thDecember 1960, he reached the lotus feet of the Almighty, ending a glorious and beautiful life.

To commemorate the name of the Founder, the Madras Seva Sadan started the Sir. M. Venkatasubba Rao Matriculation Higher Secondary School at T.Nagar in 1971.



One hundred years ago, Madras was, as you can imagine, a very different place, where huge, shady trees formed lovely, avenues, very few vehicles were seen on the road, and people led gracious, simple lives.

It was, in other ways, not an idyllic place. There were many injustices in those days, especially against women,who were not treated well at all.

It was in into that world that our founder, Andalamma, was born in the year 1894. Since she came from a well-to-do family, she had the benefit of good education (not many girls did, in those days). She went to St. Thomas Convent, Mylapore and the Presidency High School, Egmore and learnt all the crafts and skills of a young lady of her time. Andalamma, as she grew up, was also learning something else that no school taught, but everyone needed. That special, ‘something’ was Social Awareness - the ability to feel compassion for the poor, helpless and less fortunate and the desire to someday do something to change their plight.

Little did she realize how her opportunity would come. At a very young age, Andalamma became a widow and thought she must now accept a life of seclusion- for widows in those in those days could not remarry or mingle in society.

It was then that she met the person who would change her life the Hon'ble Justice M. Venkatasubba Rao, a brilliant and much respected judge who was determined to make Andalamma his wife – abrave gesture in those times! Justice Venkatasubba Rao was a very special man - learned, courageous and upright in his beliefs. He deeply wished to transform the ills of society and in his young wife he found the ideal partner. Together, they set out to brighten the lives of hundreds of under-privileged people. Both of them believed in living by example-never to preach, but to practice their ideals, to show others by lighting the way.

This is what they did: In 1928, with their own money (a grand sum of Rs.10,000 which at that time was a generous figure indeed) they founded the Madras Seva Sadan - an institute to protect, teach and help destitute women and children and people who been abandoned and mistreated by society. Here on the sprawling grounds of this noble institution, all the ideals and love in the mind and heart of Lady Andal began to take shape.

At the Madras Seva Sadan, women who thought they had nothing to live for found new purpose and meaning in life. They were fed and clothed, given work, taught skills and learnt to become happy, independent members of society. The numbers grew from 8 to 3,000 in just 30 years.

So, the Madras Seva Sadan and all the many other institutions under it, grew from strength to strength under Lady Andal's firm and careful guidance. She didn’t just lead her people, she took a personal interest in each one. Her stately presence was beloved by all. Dressed in beautiful silk sarees she would weave flowers into the hair of little girls, feed them personally with rice balls, take them for evening drives to the beach. (She was one of the first ladies to drive her own car in those old-fashioned times).When the holidays came and some children had no home to go to, she took them to her own beautiful house where they spent memorable times together.

In fact, she was truly a mother to many, taking care of them until they were old enough to marry, finding good husbands for the girls, and organizing the weddings, for which she herself would buy the sarees and jewellery.

Lady Andalworked tirelessly to organize the many activities and functions of the Madras Seva Sadan. Breaking all barriers of caste, creed, religion and social stigma, the Madras Seva Sadan took in people from any and every background. In fact, once a Harijan girl joined the school, but the upper caste children did not want to eat with her. Lady Andal did not scold or lecture, but taught the children a lesson they would never forget. She invited all the children to eat with her. At the Meal, she seated the Harijan child on her right, with the other children all around themand then she began to eat. Once the others saw this, they realized how small and limited their thinking was. The problem never came up again.

During the years when The Madras Seva Sadan was growing she also took part in other welfare activities in the state, such as:

Reception Committee of the Fourth Madras Constituent.
Conference of Women on Educational Reform.

The Nurses Association.

Vice-President The Nurses Club -1928.
Old Girl's Association of the Presidency High School.
The Society for the protection of Cow and Animals Madras 1928-1930.
The Music Academy.

Honorary Secretary
The Madras Children's Aid Society.

The District Secondary Education Board - 1936.
The Madras Nurses and Midwives Council.
Lady Members of the Advisory Committee of the General Hospital1937 - 1940.
Advisory Council of the Queen Mary’s College 1938 - 1941.
Advisory Committee, Government Hospital for Women andChildren 1930 - 1937.
General Committee - Indian Red Cross Senate - 1939.
Governing Body of the Indian Medical School and Hospital in 1935.
The King Emperor’s Anti-Tuberculosis Fund.
The Central Advisory Committee for Women’s Education - 1930.
The Training School for Health Visitors Course.
Lady Sub - Committee of the M.S.P.C.
The Provincial Council of Girl Guides Association - 1930.
Executive Committee Member of the Vigilance Association.
Alder women of the City Corporation Council 1938.
Honorary Visitor of the School of Arts and Crafts for 3 years from1930.
Lady Assessor at Madras – Royal Labour Commission.

This Was how Lady Andal, like a bright star, lit the way for others, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and prejudice. Yes, for all her greatness, she was a humble lady. She was honored with very prestigious awards – the King George’s Medal, the Kaiser-I-Hind Medal and the Padma Bhushan – all of her outstanding work in social welfare, but these honours did not change her nor did any of her work ever come in the way of her being a loving and devoted wife. She stood by her husband in all his important postings. She welcomed equality into her home the most illustrious of persons (royalty,national leaders and famous personalities would visit often) as also the humblest. No one could ever doubt their welcome in her home. She always had time to celebrate birthdays and festivals with the family and filled their lives with joyful moments, beautiful gifts and fun-filled occasions.

In 1960, Sir M. Venkatsubba Rao passed away and it was as if the light had gone out of Lady Andal’s life. Deeply grieved, she bore her loss with courage and still carried on her duties with a smile and a kind word for all. In 1969 she joined her husband at the Lotus Feet of the Almighty. Our School has been named in honour of this great lady, to carry with pride, not only her name, but also her noble ideals. Our motto is inspired by her wonderful life:- To brighten the way for others, to serve with one’s own hands, with one’s whole heart and always WITH A SMILE.

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