For the first time since its formation in 1956, the Tamil Nadu government is all set to celebrate ‘Tamil Nadu Day’ on November 1. Though the announcement has been welcomed by all political parties, historians aren’t on the same page.
The demand for reorganising the states on a linguistic basis was in the air as long as 1930s, and in 1936, Odisha became the first state to be formed based on language. Andhra Pradesh was declared a separate state in 1953 following the death of freedom fighter Potti Sriramulu during an indefinite hunger strike.
Three years later, due to the pressure mounted by leaders like Periyar, CN Annadurai, K Kamaraj and others, the erstwhile Madras Presidency was reorganised on a linguistic basis and accordingly, Kerala, Karnataka and the Madras State were formed on November 1, 1956.
The name ‘Madras State’ was changed to Tamil Nadu on January 14, 1969 during the chief ministership of Annadurai. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the rechristening.
It may be noted that while all these three states — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka — celebrate their formation day every year, Tamil Nadu has never done the same. The decision to celebrate it this year came during a debate over subsidies on Tamil development department for the year 2019-2020. The government has also allocated ₹10 lakh for the celebrations this year.
There is no doubt that the announcement has answered a long-time demand of several historians, political parties and scholars. However, some intellectuals have raised a question claiming that the year chosen by the government is wrong.
“The formation of Madras State based on border reorganisation and the rechristening of the state as Tamil Nadu are two different stories. The government should not combine these two. Each of these incidents has their own significance and uniqueness. Therefore, the two must be celebrated separately,” said KS Radhakrishnan, writer and DMK spokesperson.
He said that during the border reorganisation in 1956, the state lost Chittoor, Nellore and Tirupati to Andhra Pradesh, Delvikulam, Peermedu, Nedumangaadu, Neyyattinkara and Palakkad to Kerala, and Kollegal to Karnataka. During the reorganisation of borders, we had Vada Ellai (north border) and Then Ellai (south border) struggles, due to which, what we got was a little as compared to what we lost, he added.
“It is because of the border reorganisation that we lost so many places to the neighbouring states. And therefore, we are witnessing so many problems related to rivers and dams. The government should take a stand whether November 1 be observed as a day marking Tamil Nadu’s loss or celebrate like other states are doing,” Radhakrishnan said.
Speaking to The Federal, T Parameswari, the granddaughter of freedom fighter MP Sivagnanam, said that instead of seeing it as a day when the Madras Presidency was divided, we must realise that each language has got its own land to survive.
“If the Madras Presidency wasn’t reorganised, we wouldn’t have had a separate land for Tamil. Each language has its own land and it is their right. This day can be observed in the memory of all those martyrs who gave their lives during border struggles,” she said.
Meanwhile, Pattali Makkal Katchi founder Dr S Ramadoss said in a statement that the government must also come forward to celebrate January 14, the day the state was renamed as Tamil Nadu.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the state is set to celebrate November 1 as ‘Tamil development day’.