Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVIII No. 20, February 1-15, 2019
Going to Fort St. George has become an increasingly depressing experience. The maintenance of the place leaves much to be desired and it is really a surprise that the various Government departments that operate from here should be so blind to their shabby surroundings. Paper cups (we are now a no-plastics State) abound, as does general litter. Several heritage buildings that are now mere hollow shells, serve as convenient places to throw garbage into and it is also a familiar sight to see men zipping their trousers and emerging from these hallowed structures. And so they double up as toilets as well. The Archaeological Survey of India, which, ideally speaking, ought to be maintaining much of the space remains content with taking care of its headquarters, located at the Great House aka Admiralty House on Charles Street in the Fort. Why is it not able to take care of the rest of the precinct?
Elsewhere in the country, it is quite evident that the ASI does a perfectly good job of maintaining heritage precincts. The Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple, the Mamallapuram complex, Badami, Aihole, Patadakkal and Hampi are all instances of very clean spaces that are welcoming to visitors. Of course, it may be argued that all of these are monuments that fall under UNESCO’s world heritage sites and so there has to be maintenance of a high standard. How then are we to explain the fact that the Residency complex in Lucknow too is kept in the best possible condition?
The Tamil Nadu Government which did not even provide information to the Central Pollution Control Board, for the latter’s Annual Report for 2017-18, on the action taken to implement the provisions of the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016, has jumped into action.
The features are: ban on forms of plastic that are not easy to dispose, punitive measures to deal with non-compliance, and charging local bodies with responsibility for collection, appropriate disposal and law enforcement.
Pharmacies are now dime a dozen in Madras that is Chennai but in the early years of the last century that was not so. The trade was restricted to a few very well known names of the city. Mount Road had an enclave of sorts where no fewer than four leading members of the trade functioned from. This was near the entrance to Ritchie Street, close to where the Madras Mahajana Sabha is. These were R. Maclure’s (1894), J.F. Letoille’s (1928) and Allbutt’s (1881). There is no information on what happened to Maclure’s but Letoille’s, now under Indian management, survives after a fashion. The third, contrary to its Western-sounding name, was founded and run by Dr. Vurdappah Naidu, scion of a prominent family of Madras. Founded in Broadway, it later functioned from G. Venkatapathi Naidu Building on Mount Road, once the offices of the photographers Wiele and Klein, and now demolished. A fourth company to occupy this area was E.C. Barnes, opticians. The founder drowned himself in the sea following business losses post-Independence.
The Digital Library of India (DLI) project, an initiative of the Central Government, aims at digitising significant artistic, literary and scientific works and making them available over the Internet for education and research. Begun in 2000 by the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India and later taken over by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, it has to date scanned nearly 5.5 lakh books, predominantly in Indian languages.
The diaries of a dubash
Ananda Ranga Vijaya Champu by Srinivasa Kavi is a work in Sanskrit composed in 1752 on the life of one of the greatest chroniclers of South India, Ananda Ranga Pillai, the noted dubash. In 1937, Dr. V. Raghavan, the well-known scholar embarked on a project to edit this work and provide additional material by way of notes and Sanskrit commentary. This was published in 1948 and is the subject of this piece.
Mylapore is home to many iconic shops. One of them near the main entrance to the Kapaliswarar Temple is the Giri Trading Agency, popularly known as Giri Stores – a “one stop shop for all religious products”. Interestingly, Giri Stores had its origins not in Chennai but in Matunga, known in the past as the ‘Little Madras’ of Bombay, where Maamis in madisar (9 yard) sarees and Maamas in their veshtis were a common sight. One such Tam Brahm from Tirupunithura in Kerala, V.K. Swarna Gireeshwaran alias Giri, an employee in a business house, decided to quit a well-paying job in 1951 to start a shop near Matunga Central Station using a bakda (push cart) to sell religious books. As a spokesman for the Giri family, T.S. Ranganathan, the youngest son of Giri, whom I interviewed for this article told me, “There is a story behind why my father chose to sell religious books. Early in his life he was invited to an Upanayanam (Sacred Thread) ceremony of a friend’s son.