The State government will celebrate the 151st birth anniversary of Singaravelar, one of the early Leftist thinkers of the country, on February 18.

The announcement was made by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Friday, according to an official release, which recalled that the government had named the Chennai Collectorate and fishermen housing scheme after Singaravelar, besides installing his statue at the Collectorate and purchasing the copyright of his works.

Singaravelar (1860-1946), also known as M. Singaravelu Chettiar, was an advocate by profession. He spent his early career in the propagation of Buddhism. A contemporary of Balagandhar Tilak and V.O. Chidambaram, Singaravelar was a left-of-centre Congressman. He represented the party in the Chennai Corporation Council.

He was especially interested in railway labour and held, for a number of years, various offices in the South Indian Labour Union. During the Non-Cooperation Movement, he burnt his lawyer's robe, abiding by Mahatma Gandhi's directive. He became prominent for his leadership of the Choolai Mill strike and his association with the black flag demonstration against the Simon Commission.

Singaravelar was one of the accused in the Kanpur conspiracy case but the case against him was later withdrawn. He was sentenced to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment for his participation in the South Indian Railway Strike in 1928. Later, the Madras High Court reduced the sentence to six months. Eventually, he served four and a half months in prison before his release in August 1930.

A polyglot, he knew many European languages, including German, French and Russian. He translated into Tamil the works of Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer and Albert Einstein. His critique on Das Kapital became so popular that he was called upon to preside the conference of the Communist Party of India in Kanpur in 1925. Singaravelar financially supported the poet, Subramania Bharathi, in his last days.

He had a library of about 10,000 books, which he presented to the CPI.

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