Born in a family of agriculturists, Mr. Alagesan was a brilliant student and after his schooling in St. Columbus high school, Chengalpattu, joined the Presidency College, Madras. Even as a student he was inspired by Gandhiji and fired up by the revolutionary poet Bharathi and his patriotic songs. He gave up his studies and joined the Salt Satyagraha at the age of 18 and suffered his first imprisonment. This was the first of many imprisonments to follow.
He took part in all the programmes announced by Gandhiji such as Civil disobedience, Quit India and many others. He walked, cycled, traveled by bullock cart and used whatever means he could to reach out to the people to follow the Mahatma and join the Freedom Movement.
Though his formal education was cut short at an early stage, he made it a point to educate himself all the while learning the epics like Ramayana & Mahabharata, among other great literature and poetry in English and Tamil. He also learnt Sanskrit. His eagerness to educate himself and the level he achieved were such that he was able to translate Nehru’s Glimpses of World History in to Tamil. Even today this stands as the most voluminous translation ever and serves as a reference book for English to Tamil translation in the University of Madras.
He later served as member of the Constituent Assembly, Provincial Parliament and the Lok Saba. He served as a Minister in the Central Government handling portfolios such as Railways, Transport, Shipping, Tourism, Irrigation & Power, Mines and Fuel, Petroleum and Chemicals. He earned the reputation of an efficient Minister and was instrumental in many developments in each and every department he handled. He was affable in nature, and he earned the goodwill of one and all, including members of the opposition.
He strongly felt that the Nation’s progress was in educating its people and in keeping with this character and approach to things, he decided to do something about it and therefore founded the Bhaktavatsalam Educational Trust and the many Institutions under its umbrella.