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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Shifting of Capital ~ some successful and some not... Tuglaq, Harsha, British and MGR

Do you know of the Delhi Conspiracy case – who was the Viceroy at that time and what historic move makes us remember him even now !!!

Down South, he epitomized the success of tinseldom… he carefully cultivated an image for himself in the silver screen which stood him in goodstead in politics too… he rose to stardom playing characters that featured him as the saviour of poor… in fact in life too, many adored him as a great friend of the poor….. 1967 was a dark time…. his fans were eagerly awaiting the release of ‘Thaikku Thalaimagan’ ~ to their shock, agony and anger,  he was shot by a fellow actor  which impaired his speech……..

That was MGR [M.G. Ramachandran] who rose to rule the State of Tamil nadu and remaining very popular throughout. DMK used his clout to enhance its votes and in 1972, he left the DMK to form his own party the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK). In 1977 he became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu - the first film actor in India to become the chief minister of a state. He remained as chief minister till his death in 1987.

Centuries ago, the young Muhammad was  sent by his father to campaign against king Prataparudra of the Kakatiya dynasty, whose capital was at Warangal. But this man was quiet unpopular with most of his decisions being ridiculed ~ somebody doing a foolish act used to be named after him…. It is Mohammad bin Tuglaq.  The Tughlaq dynasty  was  established in medieval India  in the 14th century.  The empire grew under  Muhammad bin Tughluq who is often criticized by historians and others for ill-advised policy experiments such as shifting the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad and introducing copper coins without effective regulation against forgery. Tughluqi has as a result become synonym for brilliant if stubborn eccentricity in the Urdu language.

His dynasty continued for a while but touched its nadir in 1398 invader Timur defeated four armies of the Sultanate, entered Delhi, plundered its wealth and massacred its inhabitants.  When Tuglaq ruled he transferred his capital from time-tested Delhi to Daulatabad, later to be called as Tuglakabad.  By some accounts, it is stated that he enhanced the revenue at a time when famine broke out, thereby making peasants struggle for their livelihood.  Another was the move to introduce copper coins; whence people started preparing the currency by themselves leaving huge forged currency in the market. 

Mohd. Tughlaq was not the only ruler to transfer the capital; Harsha did move to Kannauj;  Iltutmish moved from Lahore to Delhi, Akbar moved to Fatehpur Sikri ……………… all of them got away, while Tuglaq continues to be haunted for his administrative decisions which went awfully wrong. 

Down South, Madurai Nayaks ruled during 1529 AD until 1736 AD, of a region comprising most of modern-day Tamil Nadu, India, with Madurai as their capital.   It was an era noted for its achievement in arts, cultural and administrative reforms, revitalization of temples previously ransacked by the Delhi Sultans.  In this clan, after Muthu Virappa came the more famous ‘Thirumalai Nayakkar’ who ruled for thirty-six eventful years. Before Thirumalai Nayak came to power, the court of Madurai was being held at Trichy for some ten to twelve years. Thirumalai Naicker wanted to continue ruling from Trichy but reportedly a dream changed his destiny.  He was sick and while moving in search for cure,  Goddess Meenakshi appeared to him in a dream, and following his dream, he moved to Madurai and later became very successful King ruling from Madurai, patronizing the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple in a big way. 

In the early part of the last century occurred the transfer of capital of British India from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911. Charles Hardinge, 1st Baron Hardinge of Penshurst, served as Viceroy of India from 1910 to 1916. During his tenure occurred the visit of King George V; the Delhi Durbar of 1911,  and the shift of  capital from Calcutta to New Delhi.   Back then, Delhi was a modest commercial provincial town. It had been gifted to Punjab by the British for the latter’s support during the 1857 mutiny, its glorious Mughal past forgotten. The shifting of the capital put Delhi back on India’s political map and changed the course of its history. British India’s imperial capital today remains the political nerve centre of the country.

Thus there have been some administrative decisions which History has proved to be right ones while some suffered not alone for the fault of the decision maker…. ~ in a continuing part, we will see another shift which was meticulously planned to be a success…..

Tail piece :  The Delhi Conspiracy case, also known as the Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy, refers to the  conspiracy in 1912 to assassinate the then Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, on the occasion of transferring the capital of British India from Calcutta to New Delhi.  A homemade bomb was thrown into the Viceroys's Howdah when the ceremonial procession moved through the Chandni Chowk suburb of Delhi. Although wounded in the attempt, the Viceroy escaped with his injuries.  Rashbehari Bose was assailed to be behind the attack and he went underground evading capture for some years later  becoming actively involved in the Ghadar conspiracy before it was uncovered, and fleeing to Japan in 1916. Although Basant Kumar Biswas was convicted of having thrown the bomb and executed, along with Amir Chand and Avadh Behari for their roles in the conspiracy, the true identity of the actual person who threw the bomb is not known to this day.

During his tenure as Chief Minister, MGR proposed shifting of capital from Chennai to Trichy………….. which was criticized strongly in some quarters and equated with Tuglaq shifting of capital……… in hindsight perhaps that would have done Tamil Nadu lot of better – reducing the pressure of Chennai which could well be the home of IT parks, Chennai port and other industries – all Governmental activities could have been occurring from elsewhere and a Capital situate in proximity to most parts of the State could have helped the southern Districts to grow more…….

More about the successful planned shift of a Capital in my next post…

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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  2. Nice article sampath-ji. I go through Tuglakabad frequently and watch in awe the deserted but huge Fort spanning 5-6 KMs. Interesting is the curse supposedly uttered by the sufi saint Nizammuddin auliya on Ghiassuddin Tuqlak, the father of Muhammed Bin Tuqlak Ya Rahay Hissar, Ya Bassey Gujjar (May it remain unoccpied, may the herdsmen live here). Many believe that it is why the fort remains deserted even today.. -kannan