R.K. Shanmukham Chetty was born in Coimbatore on 17th October 1892 in a wealthy business family. He completed his higher studies in Economics and Law from Madras Christian College and Madras Law College respectively.
Shanmukham Chetty plunged into politics immediately after completing his education and started playing an active role in the electoral politics of British India. He initially joined Congress, quit and became a part of Justice Party of Madras. He was elected to the Coimbatore municipal body in 1917, where he later became the vice-president. He also was elected to the Madras legislative council from the same party in 1920, although he resigned after two years.
In 1924, he joined the Swaraj Party and got elected to the Central Legislative assembly. British Government appointed him to several positions: President of the Indian Legislative Assembly, Chairman of the Tariff Board, Dewan of Cochin.
Contribution to Constitution Making:
Chetty was entrusted as the Constitutional Adviser to the Chamber of Princes.
Chetty was the finance minister in the first cabinet of Independent India and presented the first budget of Independent India, for the financial year 1947-48.
He was associated with various trade and commerce bodies, and was head of the Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation. Chetty played a crucial role in setting up South India Mills Association, South India Textile Research Association and Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Chetty succumbed to a heart attack and passed away on 5th May 1953.