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Vol. XXXIII No. 9, August 16-31, 2023

Our Readers Write

Tangedco tangles

This refers to the Name Transfer Mela being organised by Tangedco. While we welcome the programme as it will be beneficial to those consumers who are yet to get their individual service accounts transferred in their name, it will be of immense help to those residential apartments which are unregistered and whose common service numbers still remain either in the name of the builders or the original land-holders.

 When one of the residents visited the local Tangedco office on July 24, 2023, to get to know the documents to be furnished to process the transfer of common service number in the name of the apartment-associations which are unregistered, he was told that all the dwellers in the apartment should sign the letter to give effect to such a request.

In multi-storied residential complexes, while it will be possible to get the signatures of all the dwellers, provided all of them stay in the said apartments, since in most cases, the owners reside elsewhere for various reasons/compulsions, getting the signatures of such owners will be impossible even when they are informed of such a requirement to effect the change in the name of the common service. Considering that prima facie there can be no objection from the residents as the process is undertaken for the common good of everyone, and, transferring the name in respect of the common service does not impact any dweller individually nor does it accrue any benefits to anyone, nor does it rise any legal complications, one wonders, why should Tangedco harp on getting the signatures of all the dwellers? We feel that the very requirement is arbitrary in nature and counter-productive and reflects Tangedco’s don’t care attitude towards the opinion of the consumers. If Tangedco’s intent is to simplify the process and not to make it so complicated, it should roll back such restrictive conditions and process the requests of the unregistered flat associations which are far too many in Chennai and elsewhere by accepting the letter duly signed by the office bearers for the name transfer.

Whilst on this, we must mention that since Tangedco has come up with an offer to facilitate unregistered flat-associations to effect change in the name of the common service, the latter, in reciprocation, wants to avail of the same. Therefore, the procedure should not be bedevilled with any complications. For the flat-associations, it does not mean anything even if the name in the common service number remains unchanged so long as it remains ‘active’.

 We hope that Tangedco will consider our request and process the submissions of the flat-associations without insisting upon the signatures of all the dwellers.

V.S. Jayaraman
31/57 Motilal Street
T Nagar, Chennai 600 017

The Sengol episode

This refers to MMM’s piece The Long and the Short of Sengol in MM, June 16th.

That the entire narrative of a sengol having been exchanged at the time of transfer of power from the Colonial administration to newly independent India is a figment of imagination is borne out by the absurdity of such ceremony. Sengol is supposed to represent all that is good, just and benevolent.

Handing over of an instrument symbolising all the good qualities by a representative of an Imperial power that ruled the country for two centuries would imply that the “sengol aatchi” of the colonial power was being ceremonially handed to the native representative of the country. Nothing could be more absurd than this considering that, just to give one stark example, hardly 4 years prior to Independence, under this “benevolent” administration millions perished in Bengal in what is euphemistically called Bengal Famine but was caused entirely by the misrule of the colonial power.

It is inconceivable that this procedure would have been suggested by one of the shrewdest, scholarly and administratively most experienced (a former CM of Madras Presidency) political leaders of that era, namely Rajaji.

Further, in the era of kings and monarchs, transfer of power took place by one of the three methods: by waging a war of conquest, by intrigue and elimination/ assassination of the incumbent ruler or by dynastic succession. Sengol could have been exchanged only when the transfer of power was through dynastic succession. It is rather strange that a dispensation that is viscerally opposed to dynastic succession should enshrine a symbol of dynastic succession behind the Speaker’s chair in the Parliament of the largest democracy in the world.

These are the contradictions of trying to stitch a coat to suit the button.

The Sengol, as a gift presented by the head of a religious order of South India to the country’s first Prime Minister rightly belongs to the new Parliament Museum that is reportedly being set up in the old parliament building.

K. Balakesari
3/1, Rams Kesari Kuteeram
22, Westcott Road
Royapettah, Chennai 600 014

Sanjivi and two of his siblings: Swaminathan and Venkataraman

I was absolutely delighted to read about K(rishnaswamy) S(rinivas) Sanjivi (KSS), a pre-eminent physician of the Madras of yesteryears and the founder of Voluntary Health Service Hospital in Adyar. Many chronicles speak eloquently of KSS’s medical brilliance. The late Balasubramanian Ramamurthi (eminent Neurosurgeon of Madras) speaks highly of KSS and the medicine he practiced in Madras in his autobiography Uphill all the Way (2000, Achanta Lakshmipathi Neurosurgical Centre, Madras). I vaguely recall that Dr. Muthu-Krishna Mani (practising Nephrologist, Madras) wrote on the medical brilliance of KSS in Madras Musings some time ago.

From left to right: Krishnaswamy Swaminathan (1896–1994); Krishnaswamy Venkataraman (1901–1981) and Krishnaswamy Srinivas Sanjivi (1903-1994).

I am not sure how many MM readers would be aware that the three Krishnaswamy siblings, Swaminathan, Venkataraman, and the youngest Sanjivi were exceptional intellectuals whom Madras should ever be proud of and remembering. The eldest of the three, Swaminathan, ­after earning his M.A. title in English Literature from the University of Oxford, served as the professor of English with the Government of Madras. His prime time was spent at the Madras Presidency College. Post-retirement, Swaminathan edited and published the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (several volumes, published by the Gandhi Sevagram Ashram, Wardha). I have heard the late Reverend Lawrence Sundaram, S.J. (distinguished professor of English at Loyola College, Madras) speaking gloriously about the scholarship of Swaminathan on many an occasion and I cannot think of a greater tribute to this great son of Madras. A Wikipedia site ( Swaminathan) exists referring to Professor Swaminathan.

Krishnaswami Venkataraman, was an Indian-organic chemist extraordinaire. He was the first Indian director of the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Poona. He pioneered a key organic-chemical reaction that later came to be referred as the ‘Baker-Venkataraman rearrangement’. He led NCL to be recognised as a polestar in global science. Venkataraman learnt his first-level chemistry at the Madras Presidency College.

He earned his Chemistry Honours title from the University of Madras in 1923. He proceeded to the University of Manchester and earned his PhD and DSc titles working with Robert Robinson, a distinguished British-Organic Chemist. It is notable that Venkataraman and T(hiruvengadam) R(ajendram) Seshadri (1900-1975), another great organic chemist-son of Madras, born in Kulithalai, Tiruchirapalli, were contemporaries at the Robinson Laboratory, Manchester. More details can be got from the site:

Anantanarayanan Raman

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  1. C.K. SUBRAMANIAM says:


    Have you heard such an announcement on a railway platform? Yes; Such an announcement was made for local trains from Beach Station to Tambaram. As a student studying in Madras Christian College this was a regular announcement when the train touches Mambalam the local announcement without a loudspeaker usually announced shouting Vandi Guindy Nikkathu. This is a caution for the Guindy trains to get down in the previous station or cross Guindy and get down in the next station. This was a regular feature as there was no public announcement system those times. The sequence of stations from Chennai Beach, Fort, Park. Egmore, Chetput, Nungambakkam, Kodambakkam, Mambalam, Saidapet, Guindy, St. Thomas Mount, Palavanthangal, Meenabakkam, Trisulam, Pallavaram, Tambaram Sanatorium, Tambaram. Indeed, it was a gift from the British to India.

    The railways were intended principally to transport extracted resources – coal, iron ore, cotton and so on – to ports for the British to ship home to use in their factories. The movement of people was incidental, except when it served colonial interests; and the third-class compartments, with their wooden benches and total absence of amenities, into which Indians were herded, attracted horrified comment even at the time.

    People were willingly travelling by local trains and their journey was rather comfortable and the cheapest mode of travel. As a student of Madras Christian College, Tambaram, it was the only option to travel by local trains on a daily basis, And a “Vandhi Guindy Nikkathu” was a common announcement on this route. Those days Guindy was not given much importance on those days when Horse Racing was not there. With a person walking across the platform loudly at the top of his voice announcing ” Vandi Guindy Nikkathu ” thus cautioning passengers there is no official stoppage at Guindly for this train. In Mumbai only fast trains used to skip some stations to provide a fast mode of travel. But this was followed in Chennai, a long time back.

    Madras Christian College had many celebrities and the great Tamil Actor Gemini Ganesh of yesteryears. He was a demonstrator in the Chemistry department at Madras Christain College and used to do all acrobatics including jumping the college compound wall. He was a complete sportsman and he enjoyed playing cricket. Travelling by train, the local students loved to hear ” Vandi Guindy Nikkathu ” on reaching Mambalam or Saidapet to caution the passengers well in advance. There we got ” Vandi Guindy Nikkath ” in a manual way of announcement.


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