Chalakuzhy Paulose Mathen

C. P. Matthen (18 May 1890 – 2 June 1960) was an Indian politician who served as Member of the Indian Parliament in the first Lok Sabha, constituted in 1952 after India gained independence from Great Britain. He represented the Thiruvalla constituency of Kerala. Matthen was appointed the Indian Ambassador to Sudan after his single term in the Lok Sabha. Before his entry into politics, Matthen was a businessman with interests in cashew, minerals, insurance, plantations and banking. He was responsible for starting the Alleppey Chamber of Commerce. He was Managing Director of the Travancore National & Quilon (TN&Q) Bank when it suffered a run of unprecedented length that forced it to close. The bank run was said to have been escalated by Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer,[circular reference] the Dewan of Travancore, in an attempt to reduce the power of the Christian Community who were agitating for fair representation in the governing council of this Princely State. C.P. Matthen was extradited from Madras and imprisoned in Trivandrum, allegedly for balance sheet irregularities. He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment but offered many chances to walk free if he would acknowledge guilt. C.P. Matthen refused these offers, maintaining his innocence for more than three years. He became something of a folk hero for his uncompromising stand. He was released on 22 January 1942 without condition or explanation and returned to Madras.

C.P Matthen
Member of Parliament
for Thiruvalla (Lok Sabha constituency)
In office
1952–1957
Personal details
Born(1890-05-18)18 May 1890
Thiruvalla, Kingdom of Travancore
Died2 June 1960(1960-06-02) (aged 70)
Paris, France
Political partyIndian National Congress
Spouse(s)Elizabeth
Children2 son and 6 daughter
Portrait of Mr.C.P.Matthen
The Matthen family at "Ingle Dene", Trivandrum, 1937

Early lifeEdit

CP Matthen was born into a landed Christian family in central Travancore, in Kavumbhagom, Thiruvalla. It was unusual in that agricultural economy, even for landed families, to educate their children beyond high school, but Matthen went to Madras after high school and did his Bachelor of History degree at Madras Christian College (MCC). He completed his education with a Bachelor of Law.

Insurance and BankingEdit

At the age of 29, Matthen raised Rs 56,000 in capital and Rs 54,000 in deposits and started a bank that he called the Quilon Bank with its headquarters in Kollam (Quilon), The Quilon Bank headquarter building was then constructed and completed in 1935. In a relatively short space of 15 years, the bank's total working capital rose from Rs 156,000 to Rs 10,246,000.

Another leading Travancore businessman of that era was Mr K.C.Mammen Mappillai, whose interests were not only in banking - his bank was called the Travancore National Bank - but also in journalism, newspaper publishing and politics, his heart was actually in journalism. He was the Chief Editor of a Travancore newspaper, Malayala Manorama.

Mammen and Matthen had started an insurance company together, and the commercial success of this new venture led them to amalgamate their respective banks in 1937. The registered office remained at the Quilon Bank headquarters in Travancore but the main business of the bank was conducted from its central office in Madras where its primary shareholders were based. Sir CP Ramaswami Iyer,[circular reference] encouraged this arrangement by offering to place Rs 7,000,000 of Travancore treasury money with the merged bank but this offer was never fulfilled.

The TN&Q Bank was the fourth-largest bank in India and the largest in South India. It had 75 branches in British India, Travancore, Cochin, the Malabar, Coorg, Mysore and Ceylon:[1] Alleppey, Alwaye, Athirampuzha, Bangalore City, Bangalore Cantt.(South Parade Road), Bangalore Cantt.(Central Street), Bombay, Calcutta, Calicut, Changanacherry, Chirayinkil, Cochin, Coimbatore, Colombo, Coonoor, Cuddapah, Devicolam, Dindigul, Ernakulam, Erode, Galle, Hyderabad, Jaffna, Kandy, Karaikudi, Kayamkulam, Kottayam, Kumbakonam, Madras: Anderson Hall, G.T., Flower Bazaar, Mount Road, Triplicane, Mylapore, Vepery, Thyagarayanagar, Royapettah, Madura, Mangalore, Marthandorn, Mercara, Munnar, Mysore, Nagercoil, New Delhi, Ootacamund, Palghat, Parur, Perumpavoor, Pollachi, Poona, Pudukottah, Quilon, Quilon Sub Office, Rajapalayam, Salem, Secunderabad, Shertallai, Srirangam, Tellicherry, Tenkasi, Tinnevelly, Tinnevelly Junction, Tirupur, Thiruvella, Trichinopoly (25 Lascjar Street), Trichinopoly (Chinnakadai Teppakulam), Trichur, Trippunittura, Trivandrum (Main Road), Trivandrum (Chalai Bazaar), Tuticorin, Udumalpet, Vellore, Virudhunagar, Vizagapatam.

ImprisonmentEdit

TN&Q Bank was established in 1937 with a new Quilon headquarters building which Matthen built at a cost of Rs. 140,000 (a very large sum of money at that time). To retain the business and deposits of the Travancore State, Matthen and Mammen had not only agreed to the headquarters in Travancore but that two of the bank's directors were the Dewan's appointees and also that the Bank's General Manager, a confidant of the Dewan named K. S. Ramanujam, was appointed at the specific recommendation of Sir CP. Despite this initial support from the Travancore Government, within a few months of amalgamation being completed, rumors started making its rounds that the bank was insolvent, and by 1938 there was a run on the bank's assets – this was instigated not only by the Dewan but was publicized by the Travancore State's Department of Publicity. The bank's financial run concluded with 88% of the public's deposits being returned by the bank, and the bank becoming insolvent. At this point the trap was sprung, by Sir CP's administration demanding the extradition of Matthen and Mammen from Madras Presidency to Travancore State to stand trial for defrauding the public. Sir CP also convinced the British Government in Madras that the bank and its directors had been financing the Congress party and the Independence movement, so appeals to the Madras High Court and the Privy Council in London to stay the extradition orders were rejected and 3 directors of the bank including Matthen, Mammen and Mammen's elder brother and Mammen's son, were transported in chains from Madras to Quilon to stand trial.

At the trial in Trivandrum, the erstwhile General Manager of the bank - K. S. Ramanujam, who was the nominee of the Maharaja's government - falsely testified that Mammen and Matthen had defrauded the bank and four directors (including Mammen's brother and son) were then awarded 8 years' imprisonment. The bank's remaining assets were liquidated by the State, and the bank's assets were distributed - mainly to confidants of Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyer, one of whom acquired the bank headquarters' building in Quilon for Rs 15,000 - approximately a tenth of what it had cost to build three years earlier. With the first year in jail, Mammen's imprisoned elder brother died a broken man. Soon afterwards, Sir CP, who had been an astute lawyer in the colonial administration, being keenly aware of the weaknesses in the Government's case – which depended on K. S. Ramanujam who vanished abroad after the trial - sent word to Mammen and Matthen that if they admitted their accused guilt and sought the Maharaja's mercy they could be pardoned. Mammen and his son, had other major family problems, so they agreed to sign the false declaration but Matthen continued to refuse. Sir CP initially declined to agree to the release without all of three of them admitting guilt, but finally released Mammen and his son on receiving their written "confessions". Matthen continued to hold out on his refusal to sign any false confession, despite heavy pressure brought on him through the Inspector General of Police, Mr Abdul Karim, visiting him regularly in jail and suggesting that he sign a letter – which the IG had drafted, requesting the Maharaja to pardon and release him. Finally, on 22 January 1942, Mr. C. P. Matthen was unconditionally released by the Maharaja's Government without any written or verbal false admission of guilt. The IG, Mr. Abdul Karim, took Matthen in his official car from Travancore jail to his house where his family had waited patiently for his release from jail.

Member of ParliamentEdit

Mr. C. P. Matthen was a member of the First Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament) in 1952, representing Thiruvalla Constituency of Kerala.

Lok Sabha Member and AmbassadorEdit

He was elected to the first Lok Sabha in 1953, from Mavelikera constitutioncy in Kerala by one of the largest majorities of that election.

After completing his term in the Lok Sabha, in 1957, he was appointed as the Indian Ambassador to Sudan. He retired a year later due to health reasons caused by his years of imprisonment in Trivandrum.

DeathEdit

Died on 2 June 1960 in Paris, Île-de-France, France and buried at Thiruvalla, Kerala, India.[2]

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ Association (1938). The Calcutta Stock Exchange Official Year Book 1938.
  2. ^ "Matthen (1890 - 1960) - Genealogy". geni.com. Retrieved 9 November 2015.

General referencesEdit

  • N. M. Mathew, History of the Mar Thoma Church (Malayalam), Vol. 3, 2008. page 75
  • Chalakuzhy Kudumba Charitram, Thomas Mathew (ed.) 1987.

External linksEdit