THE politics of nomenclature may finally end in Tamil Nadu with the DMK government going in for largescale renaming in a bid to stop the ongoing caste violence in its southern districts. Districts and transport corporations named after political leaders of various communities were renamed last fortnight. Hearteningly, with geography rather than personality being given emphasis.
The formation of a transport corporation named Veeran Sundaralingam, after a prominent Dalit leader, had triggered off the latest round of violence. The Thevars were up in arms and communal clashes took place in Virudunagar and Theni districts. The Thevargrouse: they could not travel in buses that bore the name of a Dalit. Besides, the Dalits already had a transport corporation named after Ambedkar in Chennai.
Even as tension built up, the Dalits demanded that another transport corporation be named in the memory of their leader, Emmanuel. The Thevars, on their part, weren't far behind in pitching for a transport corporation to be named after their late leader, Pulithevan.
Hounded by demands from the various communities, the government is seeking to put an end to the whole game. It also resolved to open a fixed deposit account of Rs 25 lakh each to create trusts titled after 28 leaders whose names were removed from the districts and transport corporations. The interest accruing from that is to be used to provide scholarships to deserving students. While the 19 districts named after leaders would henceforth be called by the names of their respective district headquarters, the 21 government transport corporations were grouped into three—Greater City Transport Corporation, Government Express Transport Corporation and Tamil Nadu Government Transport Corporation.
In a rare show of unanimity, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and TMC chief G.K. Moopanar sat down for a community lunch at a temple in Mylapore, Chennai on July 3 to celebrate the end of the naming. Interestingly, the politically-motivated naming of places was initiated by the DMK.
When the party first came to power in 1967, its very first act was to rename Madras state Tamil Nadu. Between 1967-1976, the party also created three transport corporations after the three great Tamil empires—Cheran, Cholan and Pandian.
However, with the advent of the AIADMK rule in 1977, universities, districts and transport corporations were named after prominent leaders. Dindugal became Anna district; Erode became Periyar; and Virudu-nagar, Kamaraj. The universities at Trichy and Coimbatore were renamed after the poets Bharathidasan and Bharathiyar. And the first exclusive university for women in the country was named Mother Teresa. The first to receive flak was the naming of a transport corporation after former chief minister M.G. Ramachandran's mother Sathya.
The advent of Jayalalitha as chief minister witnessed a dangerous trend—each district was renamed after a prominent caste leader from the dominant community, obviously done with the votebank in mind. For instance, when the AIADMK government bifurcated Trichy district, the Mutharayar-dominated area was named Mutharayar district. The Vanniar-dominated Villupuram was carved out as Ramaswamy Padayachiar, where Padayachiar is a caste prefix for Van-niyars. And in the Aazhagu Muthu Kone Transport Corporation, the word 'Kone' is the caste prefix to denote Yadavas.
Sundaralingam Transport Corporation, which triggered the present bout of caste violence, was also Jayalalitha's creation. But her government order naming it could not be implemented at that time as the election commission had ordered the government to withhold the renaming till the forthcoming polls were over. When Karunanidhi came to power, he could not afford to antagonise the Dalits and had no option but to go ahead with the renaming. However, in the government-convened all-party meeting held in the first week of June, most of the political parties, barring the AIADMK faction led by Jayalalitha, favoured the removal of all names. MDMK leader Gopalsamy accused the government of removing the names of "the great leaders who fought for the Tamil identity, the Tamil language and its people". Said Jayalalitha: "Removing these names amounts to labelling them as caste leaders. If our party comes back to power, we would rename them as it stood earlier". Which would bring things back to the very beginning.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT