This, the first of three volumes, is one part of what is probably the most comprehensive historical record of Madras that is Chennai. These three volumes that will provide A 400-year record of the First City of Modern India are the result of the effort of over 50 scholars whom the Association of British Scholars, Chennai Chapter, invited to contribute histories of their specialties. Most of the authors are members of the ABS, whose membership comprises those from Chennai who have spent time in the U.K. on studies.
Each of the three volumes of this title is a separate book by itself, titled separately, and providing the histories of subjects relevant to the respective titles. This book is titled The Land. The People & Their Governance and contains 17 articles on Geography, History, Religion, Governance and Law. The second book in the series will be titled Services, Education & the Economy and will have 19 chapters, while the third will be on Information. Culture & Entertainment and will have 17 chapters.
Together the three volumes will provide the most detailed look at Madras history published to date and will give the casual reader a wealth of information and the scholar a solid base from which to launch any research project. Written in an easy-to-read style, these books will make history enjoyable and not the dry-as-dust subject most people think it to be.
S. Muthiah, the chronicler of Madras that is Chennai, was educated in Ceylon, India and the United States. After l8 years as a senior journalist with The Times of Ceylon Group, he returned to Madras to head a firm that printed and published maps, atlases and travel literature. Twenty years later he returned to journalism.
For two decades now he has been a freelance writer and columnist, editor of two Madras-focused journals, and an author of over 20 books. Most of these have concentrated on telling the stories of Madras and of some of its eminent personalities and best-known institutions. His books include, Madras Rediscovered. Madras-its Past and its Present, Madras-Gateway to the South, Getting India on the Move, The Spencer Legend, Looking Back from Moulmein, The Ace of Clubs. The Spirit of Chepauk and Born to Dare. Two large pictorial histories, The Chettiar Heritage and The Indo - Lankans, that look beyond Madras, have been well received internationally.
When not reading, writing and pursuing history, he teaches, lectures to international groups, and takes an enthusiast's watching interest in the Arts and Sport. An ardent conservationist and environmentalist, he was awarded the MBE for his work in these fields by the Queen of England in 2002.
This project, to tell the history of Madras that is Chennai in a rather different way than usual, has been five years in the pipeline. It began when I once addressed the Association of British Scholars, Chennai Chapter, and observed that Madras that is Chennai lacked a detailed history of its contribution to Modern India and that, given the membership of the local ABS, there was no better group of persons to undertake a Gazetteer-like project. I volunteered to edit the publication. The ABS Chennai Chapter jumped at the idea, but none of us knew what we were getting into.
What we, however, were sure of was that the articles should be a straightforward narration of the history of the particular subject being covered, with, as much as possible, no opinions being expressed. The whole purpose of this style was to provide factual information that offered students, researchers and academics a platform on which to start their work and complete it without the biases of anyone else influencing their output. Thus, this is a comprehensive reference book on the history of various aspects of the city that I hold is the first city of modern India. These volumes therefore are also a recognition of the pioneering contribution that Madras has made to the development of modern India, much of which becomes apparent in the histories therein.
A core committee drew up the outline of the project and listed fifty subjects that it felt needed to be covered in as much detail as 25,000-40,000 words would allow each. Then, a list was drawn up of those who were experts in the subjects and who, it was sure, would be glad to 'volunteer' to research and write on their respective specialities/ interests. Then, at a meeting with the possible contributors, the guidelines for the project were presented and fine-tuned.
When we began the project, we felt that every contributor should be a member of the ABS Chennai Chapter. But as the work got underway, whenever suitable authors from amongst the membership of the ABS Chennai Chapter could not be found, outside contributors were invited to write on their specialities. When the final list of contributions and their authors was drawn up, we found we had 53 subjects, 60 per cent of them written by ABS Chennai Chapter members and the rest by experts who were non-members.
The articles divided themselves fairly conveniently into the content of three suitably titled omnibus volumes. And as each of the volumes, broadly speaking, was independent of the others, we decided to publish them as each one was completed, but in a logical sequence appropriate to the idea conveyed by the title of each.
Thus, the first volume is titled The Land, the People & their Governance, and discusses in 17 chapters the geography and natural features of Madras, its people in terms of demography, gender and religion, their history, and how the city is governed and administered. The second volume is titled Services, Education & the Economy and in 19 chapters looks at the different services the city provides its citizens, the different levels of education that are offered, the means of earning a living and the support services for this that are necessary, and the wherewithal for all this. The third volume offers 17 chapters on Information, Culture & Entertainment and focuses on the different means of providing information, surveys cultural and built heritage, and examines the major avenues of entertainment.
The subjects covered by each book are as follows:
The Land, the People & their Governance: Geography; Wildlife; Demography; Hinduism; Islam; Christianity; Archaeology; History (1600-1900); History (1900-2000+); Military History; Governance; Administration; Political Parties; Empowerment of Women; The Corporation: Law Enforcement; and The Judiciary.
Services, Education & the Economy: Housing; Food & Hospitality; Healthcare; Municipal Services; Social Welfare; School Education; Higher Education; Technical Education; Agriculture; Science; Trade & Commerce; Industry; Public Works; Railways; Shipping; Civil Aviation; Labour; Coins & Currency; and Banking.
Information, Culture & Entertainment: Tamil Language & Literature; Printing; The Press; Publishing; Advertising; Archival Records; Libraries; Museums and Zoos; Architectural Landmarks; Art; Music; Dance; Theatre; Audiovisual Media; Cinema; Clubs; and Sport.
Every article has a detailed bibliography and each volume has its own list of contents and index. A supplementary volume will have a comprehensive index.
Readers should note the following in all the volumes:
• As over 350 years of that contribution were made when the city was called Madras, that is what I have called the city throughout this work. (Madras, which had its beginnings in 1639, became officially called Chennai in 1996.) • When we started work on this historical compendium, we asked contributors to consider a 400-year time-span from 1600 to 2000. But given the delays, many contributors have paid some attention to events after 2000, though the majority have stuck to the first suggested time-frame.
• The focus of this work has been Madras city, but with Madras having first been the chief city of the East India Company in India and from the mid-1770s the capital of the Madras Presidency, much of what happened in the rest of India, and particularly in the Presidency, impacted on Madras and vice versa, so readers will find much material here that looks far beyond Madras that is Chennai.
• In a work of this kind, some repetition is inevitable, authors often repeating facts stated by not just one author but by several. But these repetitions need to be looked at in the specific context of the subject each writer is recording.
• Readers will also note a variety of spellings of proper nouns. I have not tried to standardise these, given the ways that people's names and place names are spelt in the records and in the works of recordists at different times. If the spellings do not interfere with current understanding, I have left them alone.
Given the scale of this publication, it would not have been possible if the British Council-South India had not enthusiastically supported it through two successive directors, Eunice Crook and Chris Gibson. That encouragement was as much moral support as well as adequate financial assistance that made the extensive research of each contributor possible. As much as the ABS Chennai Chapter offers its thanks to the Directors of the Council and their staff, I must personally thank them for the help they've given in making this dream come true. Thanks are also due to the core committee of P.M. Belliappa, C. Venuprasad, Swapna Sathish and Sudhir Ravindran for not only raising the rest of the funds needed for the project but also for identifying authors and following up on the contributions each promised.
To Chitra Krishnan for her meticulous copy-editing and M/s PACE systems & graphic communications for the considerable effort they put in on each article, be it typesetting, proofreading, formatting or preparing the index, this project owes much.
I must also acknowledge the efforts of P. Poovendran of Vishnu Maps for the cartography work in this volume.
Last but not least, a special words of thanks to all the contributors not only for all the efforts they put in, in making their articles as comprehensive as possible within the word limit, but also for putting up with all my nitpicking.
But all these efforts would have come to nought if it were not for P. Chellappan of Palaniappa Brothers agreeing to print and publish the three volumes and a supplementary index and to consider a Tamil version later.
I hope libraries, educational institutions and researchers, for academic or official purposes, will agree that these three volumes will fulfil a long-felt need for a detailed reference book on Madras that is Chennai.
This, the second of three volumes, is one part of what is probably the most comprehensive historical record of Madras that is Chennai. These three volumes that will provide A 400-year record of the First City of Modern India are the result of the effort of over 50 scholars whom the Association of British Scholars, Chennai Chapter, invited to contribute histories of their specialties. Most of the authors are members of the ABS, whose membership comprises those from Chennai who have spent time in the U.K. on studies.
Each of the three volumes of this title is a separate book by itself, titled separately, and providing the histories of subjects relevant to the respective titles. This book is titled Services, Education & the Economy and contains 19 articles on Geography, History, Religion, Governance and Law. The first book in the series is titled The Land. The People & their Government and has 17 chapters, while the third will be on Information, Culture & Entertainment and will have 17 chapters.
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