Gnanapragasam Pillai (1872-1915), was born in India, in Muthialpet, the region of Pondicherry in south India; a French territory in colonial India. He migrated to Singapore/Malaya in search of a better fortune. He was an early Indian trader who owned a grocery business along Serangoon Road near Tekka Market in the early 1900s. He was a wealthy businessman who had two shop houses at number 44 and 46 Serangoon Road. His business was eventually taken over by P.Govindasamy Pillai after his demise. Having one’s portrait taken was common in early-mid 20th century Singapore among the upper middle class, well to do businessmen.