Ananth is an alumnus of Alagappa College of Technology, Chennai, where he completed his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering with a gold medal. Subsequently, he obtained his M.E. and Ph.D.(1972) degrees from University of Florida, Gainesville. His doctoral work at the University of Florida was on molecular thermodynamics, and his advisor was Keith E. Gubbins, a famous British-born internationally renowned scientist, who figures in the list of "hundred great chemical engineers" in America after the post-war years, and who is a distinguished professor at the North Carolina State University, Raleigh.
He was a visiting faculty at Princeton University(1982–83) and a visiting scientist at National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, Colorado(1990–91). He was a visiting scientist in the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, Colorado (1990–91), in RWTH, Aachen, Germany (summer 1983 and summer 1999) and a visiting thermodynamics expert in Aspen Tech, Massachusetts, US (summer 1991).
He has held various senior positions such as head of the department, dean of academic courses and dean of academic research.
Ananth is the head of NPTEL's Project Implementation committee. He also serves on the boards of companies, including Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited, Neyveli Lignite Corporation and Medlab Asia.