Interview: S. Muthiah

‘North Madras has a rich history’

Print edition : September 05, 2014

The history of north Madras is as rich as that of south Madras…

It is richer than south Madras.

You are right. It is fascinating to read the history of places like Seven Wells or the growth of industry in Madras through the mills and railway workshops there.

North Madras is richer than south Madras and it is where the city began. It is definitely one of the richest places in Madras and still has some of the biggest markets. As you go further north, it is where industry developed…, Binny’s, Perambur railway workshops, Sembium and Padi. Historically, Perambur and Royapuram have been there from the beginning. My reading is that these areas became overcrowded, with everybody wanting to live close to their place of work. If you go to George Town, you will find many of the merchants living on top of their shops. They live in luxury but still they live on top of their shops. So people wanting a more spacious home and a more comfortable life started moving towards the south because it was where the land was.

The people who started the movement towards the south were civil servants. Gandhi Nagar and Kasturba Nagar were developed by civil servants, the IAS [Indian Administrative Service]. There was no place in the north. Otherwise, north Madras would have got extended up to Pulicat! When rich people, powerful people, moved southward, greater attention was paid to south Madras. Most of the George Town merchants are either Telugus, north Indians, Marwaris or Saurashtrians. They are doing very well, but they do not have as much clout as the wealthy people living in south Madras. But the people of George Town can make George Town a wonderful place if they themselves get down to it with a will.

T.S. Subramanian

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