Madras Seva Sadan


The Madras Seva Sadan was founded in 1928 by Sir & Lady M.Venkatasubba Rao with their personal initial contribution of Rs.10,000/- and further contributions on a continuous basis Sir.M.Venkatasubba Rao was the Founder-President and Lady M.Venkatasubba Rao was the Founder Honorary General Secretary and Treasurer. It was founded as a Home for grown-up girls and young women who were poor and destitute, such as deserted wives, helpless widows and orphans, with a view to impart to them such education and training as would make them fit, in course of time, to look after themselves, and be thoroughly self-supporting and self reliant.

Its unique feature might be called its ideal of “Creative Reconstruction”. The Madras Seva Sadan recognizes that “The world is a world and not a charitable institution” and steers clear of one of the gravest dangers that beset organizations for relieving the helpless viz., a passive purposeless charity which has a degrading and deadening effect on its receipients. Initially, The Madras Seva Sadan sought to reconstruct the broken lives of young women and not allow them to drift into oblivious inaction. It, therefore, made provision for literary training as well as instruction in arts and handicrafts, so that young women, after a stay in The Madras Seva Sadan, could go into the world equipped to live an independent, self supporting life. It still continues to follow the pattern laid down by the founders.

In course of time education and other facilities have been offered to boys and men as well. A further step has been to include the wealthy as well as the indigent into the fold of the Sadan.


The Madras Seva Sadan at “Shenstone Park”, 7, Harrington Road,Chennai-31.

1.The Madras Seva Sadan Hr., Secy., A free school for girls started in 1930 is an aided school catering to around 1500 economically underprivileged students.

2. The Madras Seva Sadan Industrial School started in 1934 caters to girls who wish to qualify themselves in tailoring, embroidery and dressmaking. They do a 2 year course, leading to the Teachers Training Course.

3. Vocational Centre : For those destitute women, deserted wives, helpless widows who have no education and are too old to start schooling, vocational guidance is imparted in the Vocational Centre. In the early stages, vocational guidance was imparted in handicrafts like lace work, weaving, rattan work, music ( vocal and instrumental),embroidery and dressmaking.

With the passage of time, there has been a necessity to give up some and take on new types and methods. The centre now specializes in Leather work.

4. Rehabilitation Centre : In 1963 Lady Venkatasubba Rao started a further great humanitarian rehabilitation programme viz., Rehabilitation of Cured Mental Patients. These Patients are sent by the Government Institute of Mental Health, Kilpauk, as they are cured and have no one to keep or care for them. These women are rehabilitated and employed in the various sections of The Madras Seva Sadan. At that time it was remarked by the Tamil Nadu Women’s Welfare Department that, “So far this is the only Voluntary Welfare Institution which has boldly come forward to maintain Ex-Mental Patients when even their relatives refuse to take them back”

5. Home for Destitute Women and Children :
In World War II, during the evacuation of Burma, numerous children lost their families, eighty of these little girls were given to Lady Andal to look after, thus started the home which still continues.

6. Working Women’s Hostel : In 1930 two women from Vellore had found jobs in Madras, but had nowhere to stay, they approached Lady Andal and so began the Working Womens’s Hostel which caters to around 70 Ladies

7. Shanti Sadan - A home for the aged started in 1989 offers single rooms with attached bath facilities for ladies over 60.

8. ORCA - Commissioned in 1999 is a 6 lane 25m. pool, coaching students for competitive swimming.

9. Pravarthanalaya : started in 2006 is a women’s empowerment programme offering free courses in computers for girls & women.

10. Priyathama : A creche for children between the ages of 6 months & 5 years.

11. City Shandy : An avenue for small entrepreneurs, NGOs and self help groups to showcase and sell their products, held every month.

12. To run all the above successfully and to commemorate the memories of the Founders:

a) Lady Andal Venkatasubba Rao School was founded in June 1987. A much sought after school, as it has a wealth of diverse extra and co-curricular activities including NCC, Scouts, Guides, R.S.P, Papyrus club, Interact club, Juvenoptomists , NIOS, international student and teacher exchange programmes, Digital Inter-Active Classrooms, innumerable programmes for students and staff, a Learning Centre for students with learning disabilities, an Occupational Therapy Centre and tremendous support for sports persons as also adoption of the nearby Corporation School, etc, etc., An enviable student staff ratio of 13:1.

b) The Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall was Commissioned in Feb 2008 for the preservation & propagation of Indian & all other forms of art & culture. The complex consists of an 1132 two level air-conditioned theatre with a 2400 sq.ft. stage, an art school, an art gallery and a coffee shop. Equipped with some of the most advance audio-visual & lighting equipment, this complex will be a one-stop shop which can cater to anything form a solo performance, a street play, to a philharmonic orchestra.


1. Madras Seva Sadan Higher Secondary School
In 1953, the citizens of Tambaram, requested the founders to start a school. In response to this appeal, a free co-educational school was started in a 13 acre campus which in course of time has developed into an aided Higher Secondary School with a self financing English medium stream.
2. Madras Seva Sadan Nuery & Primary School
This school is an English Medium School with classes from LKG to Class V.


1. Sir M.Venkatasubba Rao Matriculation Higher Secondary School 
To commemorate the memory of the late Founder Sir.M.Venkatasubba Rao school was started in June 1971.

Beyond its Portals:

The Sadan lends a helping hand on a regular basis beyond its portals, be it for further education, medicare or other requirements to individuals, other institutions or the general public during times of natural or man-made calamities. In short, tries its best to live up to the ideals of the founders and the aims and objectives of the Institution.

From the beginning the home had both educational and vocational classes for lace making, enameling, lacquer work, rattan work, weaving, etc. Violin, Veena and Vocal music were the optionals in S.S.L.C. In the 1930′s, on the first Friday of every month, Seva Sadan girls used to sing bhajans on the radio. At Seva Sadan’s request Royapettah hospital opened a training course for pupil nurses from Seva Sadan. Many girls used this facility. In 1935, Seva Sadan had in its campus preliminary training to qualify girls as teachers, mid-wives or sick nurses. So Seva Sadan was doing in 1935 what only fairly recently has been introduced as vocational education. Therefore, you can gauge the caliber of the founders and their foresight.

The Madras Seva Sadan was the 1st Indian Girls School to establish the Secretarial Course – from form IV to form VI typewriting, shorthand, book keeping, commerce, drafting and precis writing and commercial arithmetic.

From 1935, for almost 35 years women convicted of infanticide were sheltered, loved and rehabitated in the Seva Sadan. The only non-sectarian recognized Institution in India to do so.

The 1st and 2nd batches of the Womens Police Wing were housed and trained in our Chetpet campus.

The foundation stone for the Industrial Training School at T’Nagar was laid by Rajaji and opened by Mrs. Durga Bai Deshmukh in January 1955. In the beginning it housed a Industrial Centre for Women, SSLC tutorial classes, the Working Women Hostel and Office Assistants Training Course. Even mid-day meals was introduced for day-scholars in December 1955.

Always a trend setter, on 17/1/55 the Sadan girls took part in the Youth Rally in the
Nehru Stadium to meet the Prime Minister. They represented China in the pagent. 40 pupils and 4 teachers went to Avadi as volunteers during the Congress sessions. Caste, creed, social standing has had no place in the campus.

In the early thirties when the 1st harjan girl was admitted, the other girls refused to sit and eat with her. So, Sir M. Venkatasubba Rao and Lady Andal took her home and after a few days, called the rest of the girls for lunch, where they found the harijan girl seated at the same table as the founders. After this, the girl took her rightful place in the hostel. Thus the founders never forced nor preached, but by example showed many girls the true path in life.


In the words of the famous Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, M.Ananthanarayanan “Sir M.Venkatasubba Rao was not merely a most distinguished and respected judge of the Madras High Court, he was that rare-phenomenon, a man of wide culture, great sentivity, humility and warmth. When Sir and Lady Venkatasubba Rao began this pioneer institution the path was hard and thorny. Social service was no short cut to fame, success or enrichment. The rights of women were still in jeopardy. Actually social service was, to a large extent, toil, tears and sweat, to partly borrow Churchill. The idealism of the Founders cannot be forgotten. This institution is their living monument”.

The Honourable C.Rajagopalachari wrote “I am proud of being counted by this great and good man as a friend. One of our finest men and one of the best judges. For moral courage, for integrity in the highest and most difficult phases of that quality there is no equal to Venkatasubba Rao”.

The late Mrs.Sarojini Naidu summed up the ideals of the Institution in the Visitor’s Book in 1940:- “irrespective of caste,creed or circumstances womanhood finds what it seeks or needs in this Seva Sadan, be it protection, opportunity, scope, encouragement, hope, knowledge or the means towards earning a self-respecting and independent livelihood”.