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Posts tagged ‘madras’

TAMARIND CITY – the book.

Bishwanath Ghosh, a print media person originally from Uttar Pradesh with Bengali ethnicity, has written a book called TAMARIND CITY, which he goes on to add as MAKING OF THE MODERN INDIA. The book deals with the city of CHENNAI, since its formation in 1640 and the various cultural, political threads which have woven the city into what it is today.

I enjoyed reading the book, maybe because i am familiar with the places and the people’s attitude that he enumerates in the book.

His research into the historical FACTS to put together this book is praiseworthy.

Since, Bishwanath Ghosh had not been steeped in the Madrasi culture and originally hails from Uttar Pradesh his presentation, therefore,  is fresh and has a certain innocence to it.  He had interviewed many people including Saroja Devi (former Tamil actress), Dr Kamala Selvaraj (gynaecologist), Mr. Muthaiah (the Chennai historian), Ms. Meena Kandasamy (dalit activist and a poetess) etc., which lend credibility to his presentation.

But it is his personal experiences in Chennai which stamps the hallmark of authenticity to the book. When he discovers a heap of condoms in the Marina beach and when his lady friend says, “KAIKKU ANJU, VAAIKKU PATHTHU” there is an IMMEDIACY to his averment that Chennai beneath the thick layer of tradition is nothing but a molten lava of all kinds of activity!

The interview based presentations are too bland, especially Bishwanath Ghosh’s meeting with Saroja Devi and her statements about herself are very self-redeeming! I wish Bishwanath Ghosh had put in a lot more effort to pull out the sleaze which , probably, lies hidden under the mount of self redeeming interviews and media management. In any case, Bishwanath Ghosh would not have been in any position to write like our good old Kushwant Singh, as Mr. Ghosh wangled most of the interviews based on his credibility as a person working for THE HINDU or as a media person.

But his effort to ferret out history accurately and show that Modern India was built on the foundations laid at Madras is laudable. That Madras was the first centre for the East India Company and that their stability in Chennai helped the British to capture Bengal or  create Mumbai are FACTS; but to say that Madras was the starting point of Modern India is an INFERENCE, which he may still have to fortify with facts for people to accept!

His dilated presentation of the ‘TAMBRAM’ (shortened for for TAMIL BRAHMIN)  with reference to  the existing divisions of IYERS and IYENGARS,  should definitely help my North Indian brethren and sisters to have clarity over the unbridgeable divide!

The book is definitely worth reading.

The two historical inputs which have shaken me to my bones are the inputs relating to Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) and Elihu Yale.

Duke of Wellington is ascribed the quote , ” THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO WAS DECIDED ON THE PLAYGROUNDS OF ETON AND HARROW”, thereby implying that the discipline shown by the sailors/ navy men in the Battle of Waterloo was inculcated in the public schools of London and that led to the victory. But after going through the book, it seems that the DUKE of WELLINGTON honed his ability as a future Admiral by knowing how to keep accounts from the Chettiars and Pillais of Chennai’ and also developing the skill to be an able admiral by building his skills in COMMUNICATIONS from Fort St. George!

The second one relating to Elihu Yale, in even more intriguing. Elihu while he was the Governor of Madras, had abolished a system for procurement and thereby enriched himself. A part of the ill-gotten money seems to have been DONATED by the said Yale to the University which had been subsequently named after him. If the naming was because of his donation, then it is WORSE, but if it was because of his eminence as an Administrator, it is BAD.

Anyway, as my senior said, don’t worry, after all YALE UNIVERSITY discharged its obligation by conferring a Doctorate degree on C N ANNADURAI, while he was the CM of Tamil Nadu.  Some repayment of debt for all the looting Elihu Yale did.


Metro in India could mean the tube or also the METROPOLITAN cities. I’m here wanting to blog on METROPOLITAN CITIES.

In the wake of the parochialism that is being spread thru SONS OF THE SOIL concept, it is time for the parliament to step in and decide the issue based on debate and making locals realize that neither them nor their forebears are responsible for the growth of the cities which are called METROS.

The metros that i am talking of are DELHI, MUMBAI, CHENNAI and KOLKATA. Delhi is the capital of the country and every Indian has the right to access and seek jobs there, buy property and make it his place of domicile.

Prior to India’s independence Bombay, Madras and Calcutta had found a place in the International map as CITIES of repute. One shud also include Lahore, Karachi and Dacca in that list. Therefore the three  cities, which are in today’s India, were not built into these huge METROPOLISES after the advent of the DIVISION OF STATES ON LINGUISTIC basis from the mid 50’s onwards.

MADRAS was appropriated by the then Madras state and Bombay by Maharashtra, but Calcutta was always with West Bengal. The composite culture that pervaded those two cities ie. Bombay and Madras have slowly been taken over by the local politicians and have infused a belief that merely because the respective cities are their state capitals, they shud be made the fief of the majority linguistic community of that state.

The malaise that we see today-in the form of violence- is nothing but a symptom of that belief, that had been allowed to creep into the consciousness of the locals and bandied about as a RIGHT. BOMBAY’s wealth is not merely the product of the labour of the locals. Even assuming that it is entirely their labour, if INDIA did not provide inter-state trade and the  CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT that no discriminatory taxes could be imposed by another state, where could  the BOMBAY FILM INDUSTRY have found  paying viewers? If such a right had not been constitutionally granted, where could the LUCAS-TVS sold all its automotive electrical parts manufactured around Madras?


How are we gonna create a NATION if we launch such parochial issues which assault the constitution of INDIA?

The only solution lies in the MODEL OF CHANDIGARH. Which is a UNION TERRITORY but the capital of Two states (Haryana & Punjab). After all, as already pointed out, let us nationalize MUMBAI and CHENNAI and make it the second and third cities which vest every INDIAN WITH THE RIGHT to work or stay without any over-riding rights by the locals.

I know it is too idealistic, but let each INDIAN start a soul-searching on these lines.

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