In fact, education is an integral part of the growth and development of a society which is based upon culture and civilization. In a philosophical sense education is the natural inheritance of every individual, since he is influenced by good or bad by all with which he comes into contact. As a matter of fact, education in a broader sense begins from the cradle and ends in the grave.
S. Mohamed Meeran Rowther @ Hajee Karutha Rowther, was born of noble parents at Uthamapalayam in 1888. Being the founder president of Hajee Karutha Rowther Howdia College, he was a well known Philanthropist of the Cumbum valley. He was extremely simple and pragmatic. The Hajee was a Patriot, Philanthropist, Pious Muslim all rolled up into one. Blessed with the altruistic ideal of doing good to others, the Hajee liberally gave as and when he was called upon to do so. A staunch nationalist that he was, he took part in the Khilafat Movement during the Freedom struggle. The Hajee who was truly religious had the conviction that true religion consists in service to humanity. He donated a building worth Rs.75000/- to the local Government Hospital. He made liberal contributions for the construction of mosques in and around Uthamapalayam. In 1914 he founded a Residential Madrasa, which has been doing great service to Islam and the Muslim Community. Besides imparting Islamic education the Madrasa provides free education for about twenty men students with facilities for free boarding and lodging all the year round.
Though the Hajee did not receive higher education, he realised the need for modern education. He knew well that education was the key to social and economic progress of the masses. It was this laudable idea that prompted him to establish a primary school at Uthampalayam as early as 1914. In the year 1950, when the Local Board High School was on the verge of closure for want of a permanent building, Hajee Karutha Rowther came forward to construct a building worth about one Lakh Rupees. The Madurai District Board magnanimously named the school after him as 'Karutha Rowther Howdia High School', has catered to the educational needs of people ever-since it was stabilized.
Hajee Karutha Rowther did not like the benefit of education to be confined to this locality alone. So, he made liberal contribution to Jamal Mohamed College, Thiruchirapally, The New College, Chennai and the S.I.E.T. College, Chennai. After his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1954, he came back with renewed enthusiasm and ambition to start a college at Uthamapalayam. For this purpose he offered Two Lakh Rupees to the Madurai District Board. But the Government was not in favour of the Board running a College. The Hajee was not disheartened. He rushed to Dr. A.L. Mudaliar, the then Vice-Chancellor of Madras University, for guidance. Seeing the boundless enthusiasm of the Hajee, Dr. Mudaliar came to his help. It did not take long for the Hajee to start the College. He created an endowment of Five Lakh Rupees in the form of Bank Deposit and also he donated landed property around 58 acres in the fertile area on the banks of the river Periyar. Apart from these, he contributed several lakhs of rupees towards the construction of the College and Hostel buildings. In 1956 the college was declared open by Sri. K. Kamaraj, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
Fascinated by the sanctity of a famous Muslim saint of Baghdad, Howdh-Ul-Ahlam Mohideen Abdul Qadir Jeelani, the Hajee had the name "Howdia" added to all the institutions founded by him. "Howdia" has become a household name in the Cumbum Valley.
Hajee Karutha Rowther Howdia College, occupies a unique place among the institutions of higher education in Tamil Nadu. It owes its existence solely to the munificence of Hajee Karutha Rowther, who was a man of simple living but lofty ideals. By establishing this college in 1956, he had fulfilled the long-cherished dream of the people of the Cumbum Valley. His name will ever be remembered by posterity with gratitude and affection. The college provides opportunity especially to the poor students who could not afford to continue their studies in cities like Madurai, Tiruchi and Chennai. Hajee Karutha Rowther Howdia College claims the reputation of the first rural college ever established in the erstwhile Madurai district.
The sudden demise of this great visionary in the year 1958 left the people in the entire Cumbum Valley grief-stricken. With the same missionary zeal, like the Hajee, his illustrious sons shouldered the responsibility of running the institution. This institution has every right to be proud of having sent out many talented young men and women to serve the nation and society. We can very well hope that, it will continue doing better service in the years to come.