Kanakammal Ramaiya, graduate, Madras University, early 20th century

“Mary Kanakammal Ramaiya was born in 1894 as the tenth child of Mr.Samuel Sargunar and Mrs.Gnanapoo Ammal in Conjeevaram. True to the genius of her father who was not only the first graduate from Tirunelveli district, also proficient in seven languages including Latin, Greek, French, Sanskrit and Hindusthani, Kanakammal completed her B.A., degree in Philosophy in I class at the University of Madras. She resigned from the post of head-mistresss and superintendent of the Presidency Training  School, Madras when she married Dr.Ramaiya, a Hindu Convert.

After marriage Kanakammal was active in serving the needs of people of Madurai in different capacities. She was the only woman member of the District Board of Madurai for years till its dissolution. She was also the first woman Bench Magistrate of Madurai,  also the president of the Juvenile Court and the Secretary of the Children Aid Society and did yeomen service. Dr. Ramaiya was an ardent supporter of the Freedom  Movement and Kanakammal identified herself with all his interests. Due to her fluency in English and Tamil, she was invited to translate the speeches of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Annie Besant in public meetings. With neither malice nor ill-will towards the British, she was honoured by the Governor of the Madras Presidency Sir, Arthur Hope by making her sit next to him in a banquet.

After the bereavement of her dear husband in Oct. 1945, she withdrew herself from public activities and drew closer to Christ. A women of prayer, she used to pour her heart to God and await His guidance. She was also a woman of the Book and drew her sustenance from the Bible, a striking thing for an intelligent person as she was and with varied achievements and experiences in the world and in her life.

She had her home call on 30th April 1977. She was 83 “Who can find a virtuous women?  Her price is far above rubies. Her children arise up and call her blessed”. (Prov. 31:10,28) Her five children and gthe grand – children all very highly educated and holding very respondible positions in life in India and over-seas, really call her “blessed”.

Miss Sargunar was the student of our late President, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, when he taught for a short while in the Presidency college after his graduation.”

Contributor: J. Durairaj

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