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Vol. XXVII No. 22, March 1-15, 2018

Archives: Vol. XXVII No. 22, March 1-15, 2018


The sad, sad state of Fort St. George

by A Special Correspondent

The Government now in power is one that swears by the words, deeds and ideology of the late J. Jayalalithaa, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. And she was of the view that Fort St. George was the rightful place from where our State was to be administered. If so, why is the Fort in such a shabby condition with no maintenance of any kind? A recent visit to that historic precinct shows that matters have only taken a turn for the worse in the last two years.

Of course, the Tamil Nadu Government is not the sole occupant/owner of the place. As is well known, the Archaeological Survey, the Army, the Navy, the Legislature and St. Mary’s Church are all in occupation of the Fort, apart from the Government. But the last named can surely set an example and also take the initiative in maintenance. That it is not doing so is more than evident from the general shabbiness that prevails. How else can you explain this eight-foot ramp of rubbish that has been built up at the rear of the Namakkal Kavignar Maligai (please see accompanying picture)? With such a tower of inflammable material being allowed to accumulate, are we not laying the whole Fort open to a fire disaster? Let’s face it, if such an event were to occur, God forbid, it would not be the first heritage precinct to catch fire in our city, owing to neglect. But do we want that to happen in the centre of administration of our Government?

Fort St George

The Namakkal Kavignar Maaligai in Fort St. George when it was first built (above left) and with ‘Chola’ embellishments in the new Millennium (above right) to make it look more heritage-oriented. And on below is how a refurbished building is maintained.

UntitledIf that is the fate of what is under the control of our Executive and the Legislature, what is with the Archaeological Survey is no better. Clive’s Corner, inaugurated with much fanfare a few years ago, is now mostly locked and when opened reveals a musty room full of peeling plaster.


State not in Top Three on any parameter

by A Staff Reporter

Periodic independent surveys, such as the one published by India Today at the end of last year throw some light on the comparative performances of States – and of interest to us, Tamil Nadu – on the social and economic fronts, but caution is necessary in reading too much into them.

The study covers eleven criteria for ranking States and comparing improvements from 2010-11 to 2015-16. The parameters are: Education, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Inclusive Development, Infrastructure, Law & Order, Tourism, Agriculture, Governance, Economy and Health.

The study divides States broadly as large and small, the latter comprising ten states like Puducherry, Delhi, Goa, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Among the “large” states are the relatively smaller ones in terms of population and territorial expanse, like Kerala and Uttarakhand. This distinction emerges from the fact that such relatively smaller states in the “large” category have cornered all the first ranks for ten parameters. These States are Himachal, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Telangana. It is interesting to speculate whether compactness has been a critical contributory factor for ensuring higher governance standards and more effective implementation through greater physical proximity enhancing accountability. Large states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka that account for 46 per cent of the national GDP have not done well in comparison with the relatively smaller of the “large” category.


Remembering the beginnings as IE Celebrates its Golden Jubilee

by S. Viswanathan

After a couple of years of working as an academic, teaching undergraduate students and studying for another post-graduate degree in political science, I opted for journalism as my profession, appointed myself editor and publisher and launched the transport monthly Mobile.

It was a clean slate: I didn’t have any knowledge or experience in writing, editing, proof reading, printing, pagination or book production. I spent six months visiting the other metros, trying to study the transport industry. I launched Mobile in September 1962. Through the years I learnt the various facets of journalism as also the business of printing and book production.

The experience helped me witness and experience the spectacular changes in printing. I started with the basics by acquiring a letterpress printing press with a few fonts of typefaces and a treadle machine in 1965. Edit matter was composed by hand, using lead types of different fonts and sizes. These were made into pages and printed, two pages at a time, by the treadle – reminiscent of the early stages of Gutenberg’s great invention.

When I launched Industrial Economist as a business fortnightly in 1968, it demanded much larger volume of type setting to be done every fortnight. I opted to get this done with an established printer who had mechanical composing facilities in the scope of a couple of linotype machines. In this, bars of lead were melted, cast on brass matrices arranged in lines, as slugs. These linotype machines were mechanical marvels for typesetting in quick time, to cast afresh lines easy to handle as slugs. The process lent for easy make-up of pages which were locked into forms and printed in large-sized printing machines. This technology ruled typesetting in newspapers spread across the globe for over a century. Such machines initially were the preserve of a few large manufacturers in the West and were later copied by the Russian and other nations.

In my evolution as a printer I yearned to acquire such a machine. This was available on rupee terms with hire purchase facility offered by NSIC, SFCs and banks.


A look at the Presidency in Gujarati

- Karthik Bhatt

From India’s Digital Archives

The book featured in this issue is one of its kind, an overview of the Madras Presidency written in Gujarati.

The Gujaratis were amongst the earliest migrant communities to arrive in the Madras Presidency, their association dating to at least the mid-1500s. Over the course of this period, they have actively contributed to the development of the social, commercial and cultural landscape of the region.

The Malabar Samachar weekly, founded in 1925, was the first Gujarati magazine in the Madras Presidency. It was edited and published by Madhavrai Gigabhai Joshi, a businessman who settled in Cochin after retiring from a successful venture in Rangoon. There is no information either on him or as to the trade he was engaged in. Madhavrai took a keen interest in Gujarati literature and wrote a series of articles suggesting several schemes for its promotion, especially for the benefit of Gujaratis living outside Gujarat. He also wrote to the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (Gujarati Literary Council) requesting that the schemes be discussed and considered for implementation. However, nothing concrete was to


Lost Landmarks of Chennai


Erstwhile home now hosts social service


The signage in Tamil on the yellow-coloured concrete block reads Geraldu Gardens, while the English one below says Jaret. The correct name is Jarretts Gardens. Now reduced to two streets, 1st and 2nd Avenue, with the Guild of Service and the Madras School of Social Work in the middle, this was once the vast garden of a bungalow of that name. And it has a long and interesting history.

The first occupant of this property, at a time when it ran all the way from Casa Major Road, Egmore, to the Cooum river behind, was Thomas Jarrett, who according to HD Loves Vestiges of Old Madras, was a civil servant who moved to Madras in 1805 from Bencoolen in Java. He left for England in 1822, where he died in 1837.