August 21st, 2006 @ 6:58 PM Chennai
Though Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu, the Tamil spoken here is entirely different from the districts of Tamil Nadu. This is due to the cosmopolitan nature of the city. English, Armenians, Telugus, Malayalees, Parsis, Marwaris (morphed to Marwadis in Tamil), Sindhis – the list of cultures that have left a mark in this city is numerous. And I have not even started getting into the sub divisions of Tamils.
By and large the major languages that have melted together in this melting pot are – Tamil, English, Telugu. Of these Telugu speaking people are of sizeable number in Chennai. In fact till 1980s (I think so) most of the Telugu movies were shot in Madras. The fast unto death by Potti Sriramulu for a separate state of Andhra Pradesh was held in Madras.
It was during that agitation, the slogan “Madras Manade” (Madras is ours – in Telugu) was raised by the Telugu community. It reached its peak during 1952-53. But this issue had been festering for quite some time. As early as 1920s, the Raja of Panagal (yes, it is after him the Panagal Park is named), who was the Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency from 1921-26 proposed that the Cooum river be used as the boundary for bifurcation – land north of Cooum be given to Telugu speaking people while the land to the south of Cooum be given to Tamil speaking people. Since Tamils were the dominant political force in the State and National Politics, nothing came out of it.
The Tamils responded with “Madras Namade” (Madras is ours- in Tamil). Tamil Scholar M.P. Sivagnanam (called Ma. Po. Si after his intials), was the focal point of Tamils. The JPC committee consisting of Jawaharlal Nehru, Pattabhi Sitaramayya and C.Rajagopalachari came with the compromise solution of handing over Tirupathi to Telugus and keeping Madras with Tamils. Tempers must have run high in those day, but I have not heard anything about skirmishes or fights between two groups. It is remarkable that hardly any ill will remains between the two communities in Chennai today. The migration of large number of Tamilians from the interior districts has tilted the balance in favor of Tamils, thought Telugus remain a sizeable minority in the city.