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Madras State

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Madras State

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Madras State was a state in the Republic of India. At the time of its formation in 1950, it included the whole of present-day Tamil Nadu, Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema, the Malabar region of North Kerala, and Bellary, South Canara and Udupi districts of Karnataka. Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema were separated to form Andhra State in 1953, while South Canara and Bellary districts were merged with Mysore State, and Malabar District with the State of Travancore-Cochin to form Kerala in 1956. In 1969, Madras State was renamed to Tamil Nadu, meaning "Tamil country".


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After Indian Independence, the Madras Presidency became the Madras Province on 15 August 1947. On 26 January 1950 it was formed as Madras State by the Government of India. As a result of the 1956 States Reorganisation Act, the state's boundaries were re-organised following linguistic lines. The state was finally renamed as Tamil Nadu on 14 January 1969.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari

In the 1952 elections, the first as a part of independent India, the Indian National Congress was the single largest party in the assembly. However, the congress could not form the government as it did not have a clean majority, and the Communist Party of India's led coalition appeared to be in a better position to form the government. Nevertheless, a congress government was formed in the state, and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was selected by the cadres of the Congress party to rule the state. However, he was not an elected member of the Madras Legislative Assembly. Hence, he was nominated by the governor to the Legislative Council and took office as the chief minister of Madras state.

Dr. P. C. Alexander, himself a former Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra governor, writes that the most conspicuous case of constitutional impropriety was the one by Sri Prakasa when he invited Rajagopalachari to form the government in the Madras state. During this time Potti Sriramulu called for a separate state named Andhra and went on an unconditional fast until his goal was achieved. He died following complications that arose during the fast, and violent riots broke out in the Telugu areas of Madras State. Jawaharlal Nehru had initially warned that this method of fasting to achieve administrative or political changes will put end to democratic government, but after death of Potti Sriramulu Nehru agreed to the demand for separate state of Andhra but refused to include Madras (now Chennai) city in Andhra. Serious allegations arouse that Rajaji did not intervene to break the fast or provide medical help for Sriramulu even though the fast had continued for over 50 days. On a side note, only one other person, Jatin Das, before Sriramulu, in modern Indian history actually fasted to death. In most cases they either gave up, were hospitalised or arrested and force fed. The State of Andhra was carved out of the Madras State in 1953, Rajaji remained aloof from the Andhra State and related issues. He removed controls on foodgrains and introduced a new education policy based on family vocation. According to this policy students had to go to school in the morning and to compulsorily learn the family vocation, like carpentry, masonry etc. after school. It was severely opposed as casteist and dubbed Kula Kalvi Thittam (Hereditary Education Policy) by his close friend Periyar who vehemently opposed it. This policy was under attack this from within the Congress as well as outside it. This ultimately led to his resignation in 1954.


On 13 April 1954, K. Kamaraj reluctantly became the chief minister of Madras Province. To everyone's surprise, Kamaraj nominated C. Subramaniam and M. Bhakthavatsalam, who had contested his leadership, to the newly formed cabinet. Kamaraj removed the family vocation–based Hereditary Education Policy introduced by Rajaji. Kamaraj strove to eradicate illiteracy by introducing free and compulsory education up to the eleventh standard. He introduced the Mid-day Meal Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor school children.

One of the first political acts of Kamaraj during his tenure as chief minister was to widen representation of the rising non-Brahmins in the cabinet. Ministerial berths were given to the non-Brahmin caste-based parties, Tamil Nadu Toilers Party and Commonwealth Party. Both the parties were subsequently 'subsumed' by the Congress. In a move to counter Tamil cultural politics espoused by the DMK, Kamaraj made conscious attempts to partake in the linguistic cultural matters. To placate Tamil aspirations, Kamaraj effected some measures. The efforts towards introducing Tamil language as a medium of instruction in schools and colleges was accompanied by the publication of textbooks on 'scientific and technical subjects' in Tamil. In 1960 the state education minister took steps to introduce Tamil in government arts colleges as a medium of instruction.

Similarly the usage of Tamil in the courts received encouragement. To affirm his role in the linguistic politics of the state, Kamaraj introduced a bill in February 1962 in the legislative assembly for changing the name of Madras to 'Tamil Nadu' for 'intrastate communication', the bill also proposing Madurai as the capital. But no decision was taken on it. The DMK made capital out of this, routing Congress in the 1967 elections four years after Kamaraj relinquished his office as chief minister in accordance with the Kamaraj Plan to concentrate on Congress organisational work.

Committed to his version of "socialism" meaning that "those who are backward should progress", Kamaraj remained truthful to the simple dictum of his "socialism", providing "what is essential for man's living" such as "dwelling, job, food and education". The great feature of Kamaraj rule was the ending of the retrogressive educational policies and setting the stage for universal and free schooling.

Almost every village within a radius of one mile with a population of 300 and above inhabitants was provided with a school. With a view to encouraging and attracting the rural poor children to the schools, Kamaraj pioneered a scheme of free mid-day meals for primary school children in panchayat and government institutions. This scheme, aided by the American voluntary organisation CARE, was launched in 1957. In addition the government came forward to supply school uniforms to poor students. To make the education easily accessible to children from various backgrounds, full exemption from school fees was introduced. Public enthusiasm and participation in raising funds and procuring equipment for the schools were entertained through different schemes making education a social responsibility. Such measures made education affordable for many who were denied basic educational opportunities for centuries.

Kamaraj's other feat was his role in facilitating developmental programmes chiefly electrification and industrial development. Thousands of villages were electrified. Rural electrification led to the large-scale use of pumpsets for irrigational purposes and agriculture-received impetus. Large- and small-scale industries were flagged off generating employment opportunities. Kamaraj made the best use of the funds available through the Five-Year Plans and guided Tamil Nadu in deriving the maximum benefit.

M. Bhaktavatsalam

In 1963, the Indian National Congress won the Madras state elections and formed the government in the state for the fifth time in 25 years. On 2 October 1963, Bhaktavatsalam took office as the chief minister of Madras as Kamaraj backed off, expressing his desire to spend more time serving the party. Bhaktavatsalam is, till date, the last Chief Minister of Madras from the Indian National Congress.

In August 1963, M. S. Golwalkar, the Sarsangchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh established a Swami Vivekananda Centenary Committee and a Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee and appointed Eknath Ranade as its Secretary. The main function of the committee was to construct a rock memorial at Kanyakumari in order to honour Swami Vivekananda on his birth centenary. The chief minister, Bhaktavatsalam, and the Union Minister for Cultural Affairs, Humayun Kabir, vehemently opposed the move. However, Bhaktavatsalam yielded when Ranade presented him a letter with signatures of 323 members of Parliament in support of a memorial.

Bhaktavatsalam's tenure as chief minister witnessed severe anti-Hindi agitations in Madras state. Bhaktavatsalam supported the Union Government's decision to introduce Hindi as compulsory language and rejected the demands to make Tamil the medium of instruction in colleges, saying that it was "not a practical proposition, not in the interests of national integration, not in the interests of higher education, and not in the interests of the students themselves". On 7 March 1964, at a session of the Madras Legislative Assembly, Bhaktavatsalam recommended the introduction of a three-language formula comprising English, Hindi and Tamil.

As 26 January 1965, the day when the 15-year-long transition period recommended by the Indian Parliament came to an end, neared, the agitations intensified, leading to police action and casualties. Five of the agitators (Sivalingam, Aranganathan, Veerappan, Mutthu, and Sarangapani) immolated themselves while three others (Dandapani, Mutthu, and Shanmugam) consumed poison. One of the agitators, eighteen-year-old Rajendran, was killed on 27 January 1965 as a result of police firing.

On 13 February 1965, Bhaktavatsalam claimed that the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Left parties were responsible for the large-scale destruction of public property and violence during the anti-Hindi agitations of 1965.

C. N. Annadurai

In 1967, the Congress lost nine states to opposition parties, but it was only in Madras state that a single non-Congress party majority was achieved. The electoral victory of 1967 is also due to an electoral fusion among the non-Congress parties to avoid a split in the Opposition votes. Rajagopalachari, a former senior leader of the Congress party, had by then left the Congress and launched the right-wing Swatantra Party. He played a vital role in bringing about the electoral fusion amongst the opposition parties to align against the Congress. At that time, his cabinet was the youngest in the country. C. N. Annadurai legalised self-respect marriages for the first time in the country. Such marriages were void of priests to preside over the ceremony and thus did not need a Brahmin to carry out the wedding. Self-respect marriages were a brainchild of Periyar, who regarded the then conventional marriages were mere financial arrangements and often caused great debt through dowry. Self-Respect marriages, according to him encouraged inter-caste marriages and caused arranged marriages to be replaced by love marriages. Annadurai was the first to announce subsidising of the price of rice in the election manifesto. He promised a measure of rice for one rupee, which he initially implemented but withdrew soon. Subsidizing rice and giving freebies are still used as election promises in Tamil Nadu.

Renaming of the state

It was Annadurai's government that renamed the Madras State to Tamil Nadu. The name change itself was first presented in the upper house (Rajya Sabha) of the Parliament of India by Bhupesh Gupta, a communist MP from West Bengal, but was then defeated. With Annadurai as chief minister, the state assembly passed the bill of renaming the state successfully. It was during the period of his Chief Ministership that the Second World Tamil Conference was conducted on a grand scale on 3 January 1968. Also, when a commemorative stamp was released to mark the Tamil conference, Annadurai expressed his dissatisfaction that the stamp contained Hindi when it was for Tamil.


Madras State Wikipedia