Tamil Nadu will celebrate the birth anniversary of Dalit icon and Mahatma Gandhi’s close associate Rettamalai Srinivasan on Thursday as a government function.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had directed that his birth anniversary on July 7 be observed as a government function and ministers to honour him by garlanding his statue located inside Gandhi Mandapam here, a State government release said.

Srinivasan, who had experienced the evils of untouchability in his school days, was instrumental in the father of the nation putting his signature in Tamil as ‘Mo.Ka. Gandhi,’ (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Tamil), it said.

He worked as a translator in a South African court when Gandhi was practicing there as an advocate, it said.

A recipient of Diwanbahadur and Rao Sahib titles in British-era India, he struggled for the rights of the Adi Dravidar community.

Srinivasan, who died at the age of 85, had also rubbed shoulders with veteran leader Babasaheb Ambedkar.