Friday, February 25, 2011

Renaming ... Will Rose by any other name smell the same ?

Constitutionally, INDIA  that is BHARAT is a Union of States.  Today there is a news item in The Hindu ‘this day that age’ of the decision of the Govt. of Madras to rename the Madras State as Tamizh Nadu.  The news item read as under :

““ dated February 25, 1961: Renaming Madras State :   The Government of Madras have decided that Madras State be referred to in Tamil by the name “Tamizh Nadu” from now on. This replaces the present equivalent of “Chennai Rajyam” used by the Government. Madras City would, however, continue to be called “Chennai” and the English equivalent of the State's name and that of the capital would be Madras. The decision of the Government was announced in the legislative Assembly on February 24 by Mr. C. Subramaniam, Finance Minister and Leader of the House, replying to the discussion on a non-official resolution for renaming the State as Tamil Nad. Mr. Subramaniam said that the State Government did not propose to sponsor any legislation in Parliament to amend the Constitution of India for the purpose of altering the name of the State. He however, sounded a warning that the change of name should not lead to any linguistic fanaticism but should only foster greater love for Tamil.””

Renaming seems to be an obsession – Madras became Chennai, Calcutta – Kolkatta, Bombay – Mumbai, Bangalore – Bengaluru, Orissa – Odisha and more………  this is not restrictive of States, Cities but has spread to Streets also.  Curiously, there are many streets in Chennai with English Names such as Wallers Road, Blackers Street, Warren
Road, Belfours Roadand more – sure that most of us do not know the significance and why these roads were named so ?

Madras Presidency was renamed Madras State;  Madras State or Madras Rajdhani became Tamilnadu;  Madras the capital of the State was renamed Chennai.  Some of the roads in the City which have been renamed would include : 
           Mount Road to Anna Salai.
           Edward Elliot Road to Dr.Radhakrishnan Salai
           Elliot's Beach Road to Sardar Patel Road
           Mowbray's Road to  T.T.K Road after Thiruvallur Thattai Krishnamachari
           Commander-in-chief Road to Ethiraj Salai after V.L. Ethiraj
           Nungambakkam High Road to Mahatma Gandhi Salai.
           Warren Road to Bhaktavatsalam Salai
           Lloyds Road to Avvai Shanmugam Salai
           Oliver Road to Musiri Subramaniam Salai
           Montieth Road to Red Cross Road
           Pycrofts Road to Bharathi Salai
           Bells road to Babu Jagjivan salai
           Chamiers Road to Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar Road
           Griffith Road to Maharajapuram Santhanam Road
           Beach Road became 'Kamarajar Salai
           Ponamallee High Road became Periar EVR salai
           Walltax Road to VOC Salai
           Royapettah High Road became Thiru Vi Ka Salai after Vriddachalam Kalyanasunduram
           LB [Lattice Bridge] Road became Dr.Muthulakshmi Salai

Chennai and Tamilnadu have a long history claiming to be older than the stone age.  The language and places have existed for long and the civilization is believed to be one among the oldest.  After the Sangam period, the age of the  four ancient Tamil empires of Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallava are well recorded in history, Those Kings ruled over the land exhibiting unique culture and enriching language

The Madras Presidency was a creation of the East India company in some ways.  At its extant   Madras Presidency included much of South India which in effect is the modern day Tamilnadu, Malabar regions of Kerala, Lakshadweep, coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, Ganjam dist of Orissa, Bellary, Udupi districts of Karnataka.  For a few years there was the winter capital at Madras and summer capital at Ootacamund.

The origins were from the agency of Fort St George established by the British East India Co soon after the purchase of village of madrasapatnam in 1639 from Chenna kesananaickers. Perhaps in some ways the British way still existed when the legislative assembly functioned till recently from the Fort. St. George and now moved to the new premises in the erstwhile Omanthoorar estate. 

Though the resolution of renaming the State was announced in the assembly in 1961 itself, it was not until 1968, the name change occurred.  On Jan 26, 1968, officially Madras State came to be known as State of Tamilnadu.  The vast geography which it had, had been reduced on previous occasions.  In 1953 was the split along linguistic lines. Under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, the States of Kerala and Mysore were carved out of the Madras state. 

This Act was a major reform of the boundaries and governance of Indian States.  This also amended the Indian constitution replacing the 3 types of States with a single type of State.   Arising out of this, the State’s geography further shrunk or rather reorganized with the transfer of Malabar district to Kerala and the southern part of Travancore was added to the state and came to be known as Kanyakumari district.  

Again, the old Act enacted in 1784 had a bearing on all these.  It was the Pitt’s India Act of the British Parliament  which was made to bring the administration of East India Company under the control of the British Govt.  Significantly, it regulated primarily to weed out corruption in the East India Company in Bengal. The legacy has spread so wide and far………….

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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