On 13 April 1954, Kamaraj became the Chief Minister of Madras Province. To everyone's surprise, Kamaraj
nominated C. Subramaniam and M. Bhakthavatsalam, who had contested his leadership, to the newly formed
As Chief Minister, Kamaraj removed the family vocation based Hereditary Education Policy introduced by
Rajaji. The State made immense strides in education and trade. New schools were opened, so that poor rural
students had to walk no more than three kilometres to their nearest school. Better facilities were added
to existing ones. No village remained without a primary school and no panchayat without a high school.
Kamaraj strived to eradicate illiteracy by introducing free and compulsory education up to the eleventh
standard. He introduced the Midday Meal Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor
school children. Later it was expanded to four more schools. This was the precursor to the free noon meal
schemes introduced by K. Kamaraj in 1960's and expanded by M. G. Ramachandran in the 1980s. He introduced
free school uniforms to weed out caste, creed and class distinctions among young minds.
Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Statue in Kamaraj Colony, Hosur
During the British regime the education rate was only 7%. But after Kamaraj's reforms it reached 37%.
Apart from increasing the number of schools, steps were taken to improve standards of education. To
improve standards, the number of working days was increased from 180 to 200; unnecessary holidays were
reduced; and syllabi were prepared to give opportunity to various abilities. Kamaraj and Bishnuram Medhi
(Governor) took efforts to establish IIT Madras in 1959.
Major irrigation schemes were planned in Kamaraj's period. Dams and irrigation canals were built across
higher Bhavani, Mani Muthar, Aarani, Vaigai, Amaravathi, Sathanur, Krishnagiri, Pullambadi, Parambikulam
and Neyyaru among others. The Lower Bhavani Dam in Erode district brought 207,000 acres (840 km2) of land
under cultivation. 45,000 acres (180 km2) of land benefited from canals constructed from the Mettur Dam.
The Vaigai and Sathanur systems facilitated cultivation across thousands of acres of lands in Madurai and
North Arcot districts respectively. Rs 30 crores were planned to be spent for Parambikulam River scheme,
and 150 lakhs of acres of lands were brought under cultivation; one third of this (i.e. 56 lakhs of acres
of land) received a permanent irrigation facility. In 1957–61 1,628 tanks were de-silted under the Small
Irrigation Scheme, and 2,000 wells were dug with outlets. Long term loans with 25% subsidy were given to
farmers. In addition farmers who had dry lands were given oil engines and electric pump sets on an
Industries with huge investments in crores of Rupees were started in his period: Neyveli Lignite
Corporation, BHEL at Trichy, Manali Refinery, Hindustan raw photo film factory at Ooty, surgical
instruments factory at Chennai, and a railway coach factory at Chennai were established. Industries such
as paper, sugar, chemicals and cement took off during the period.