Nyapathi Subba Rao Pantulu (January 14, 1856–1940) was an Indian politician and social activist who served as a member of the Madras Legislative Council. between 1893 and 1909. He was also one of the founders of The Hindu.
N.Subba Rao was born in Nellore on January 14, 1856 but later moved to Rajahmundry. His father Veera Raghava Rao worked in the Customs Department(Salt Branch) in the Madras Government. His mother was Rangamma. As a student Subba Rao was known for his intelligence and industry. After passing the Matriculation examination, he joined the Christian College at Madras and obtained his B.A degree in 1876. Three years later he obtained his Law degree. After qualifying for the Bar, he set up his practice at Rajahmundry in 1880. At Rajahmundry, he came into contact with Kandukuri Veeresalingam, the well known Andhra social reformer. Subba Rao was attracted by the literary and social reform activities of Veeresalingam. Within a few years Subba Rao became a leading lawyer in Rajahmundry.
N.Subba Rao was interested in journalism and Telugu literature. While studying in Madras, he founded The Hindu in 1878 along with his friends G. Subramania Iyer and M. Veeraraghavachariar. He also founded two other journals : Chintamani in Telugu and Indian Progress in English. Chintamani encouraged the writing of Telugu novels by instituting annual awards.
Pantulu was involved in politics from his early life. He served as the first Chairman of the Rajahmundry municipality. He attended the first session of the Indian National Congress held at Bombay in 1885. In 1892, he was elected as a member of the Madras Legislative Council. In 1894, he presided over the annual session of the Krishna District Association. In the following year he established the Godavari District Association. He presided over the annual session of the Madras Provincial Conference held at Vishakapatnam on 5th June 1907.
Subbarao was a moderate by conviction. He did not support the activists of the extremists. At the same time, he supported the Swadeshi Movement as it fostered the growth of indigenous industries. Along with C.Y. Chintamani he toured the coastal Andhra districts to propagate Swadeshi. Pantulu was elected as the General Secretary of the Indian National Congress in 1914 and remained in that position till 1917. When the Andhra Mahasabha held its second session at Vijayawada on April 11, 1914, Pantulu presided over the meeting in which he demanded a separate Andhra state for Telugu-speaking people of Madras Presidency. This resulted in the formation of the Andhra Congress Council on January 22nd, 1918 with Pantulu as its first President and Konda Venkatappaiah as its Secretary.
Pantulu died in late 1940 at the age of 84. In a tribute which appeared in The Hindu in January 1941, Pantulu was hailed as “a man of magnificent vitality” and “a promoter of ‘liberal Hinduism’.