Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXVIII No. 9, August 16-31, 2018

From Madras to Tamil Nadu: a forgotten re-naming

- R. Muthukamar

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Cover of the magazine Madras Information released in 1968 December to commemorate renaming of Madras State as Tamil Nadu

Madras State did not become Tamil Nadu State in a day. ‘Thiyagi’ Sankaralingam, a Congress Party worker who was behind the first demand to change the name, in the 1950s, made repeated representations. But to no avail.

The DMK emphasised its demand for such a change on entering the Assembly on May 7, 1957. There were just 42 votes in favour of the resolution and it was defeated. However, the DMK continued to represent on this demand. On January 30 1961, the Socialist Party legislator Chinna Durai brought a resolution to change the name from ‘Madras State’. In order to win that resolution, he requested that the ruling party members vote in its favour. This led to Chief Minister Kamaraj postponing the discussion on the demand for a month. The DMK boycotted the Assembly for three days protesting against the delaying tactics of the Government.

Meanwhile, senior Communist leader Bhupesh Gupta, initiated a Bill in Parliament to change the name of the State. At that time, C.N. Annadurai (Anna) was a Rajya Sabha member and he supported the move. A Congressman who spoke then said, “About five hundred years ago there was no United Tamil Nadu and only Chera, Chola and Pandya kingdoms. Such a demand cannot be historically justified.” Replying to this, Anna pointed out usage of the term ‘Tamil Nadu’ in ancient literature including Paripadal, Pathitrupattu, Mani- mekalai, Silapathigaram and the works of Kamban and Sekhizar. An MP then asked Anna as to how the State could profit from such a name change. To counter this, Anna asked as to how the country had benefited by change of the President’s post to Rashtrapati or the Lower House to the Lok Sabha. He stressed that the name of the state and its capital ought to be different. However, due to the enormous strength of Congress party in Parliament, the Bill was defeated.

On July 23, 1963, the DMK brought in the resolution once again in the State Assembly, this time moved by Rama Arangannal. M. Bakthavatchalam was the CM. State Minister R. Venkatraman raised a point – “Tamil Nadu as a name will not be known internationally, on the other hand Madras is recognised in the international market. Moreover, changing the name of the State will jeopardise the signing of agreements between States and other countries.” The resolution failed. However, with the DMK sweeping the Assembly elections in 1967, the matter became a reality.

On July 18, 1967, Chief Minister Anna prepared a resolution to change the name of Madras State to Tamil Nadu in English and Tamil languages. Speaking on the debate, Opposition Leader P.G. Karuthiraman said, “Madras is a name in world history; Tamil Nadu will take time to reach the same heights”. So, he suggested that the name ought to be ‘Tamil Nadu-Madras State’. However, at one point in the debate, Tamil Nadu was accepted and the resolution passed unanimously. Anna uttered “Tamil Nadu” three times and this was loudly cheered by legislators. Anna recognised the contributions of Thiyagi Shankaralingam who died after going on a hunger strike and Ma. Po. Sivagnanam in the formation of Tamil Nadu. Anna said, “We are not an independent country because of the name change, our State will be a part of India.” He also made it clear that the Tamil Nadu Secretariat would be the “Tamil Nadu Government Secretariat” and the nameplate was set up at Fort St. George accordingly.

On January 14, 1969, Madras State was officially renamed Tamil Nadu State. The Golden Jubilee year of this historic occasion has not been remembered. I wonder why – (Courtesy: TCC Digest).

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