It’s back to being Vellore as T.N. revokes order on spelling-change of place names

Published : June 18, 2020 22:34 IST

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Tamil Nadu government has withdrawn its order bringing anglicised names of over 1000 cities, towns and suburbs in the State closer to their Tamil pronunciations. This followed the barrage of criticism it received to the renaming of 1,018 places six days ago in order to reflect the way they were pronounced in Tamil.

The critics even poked fun at the manner in which this exercise was carried out. For instance, Vellore became Veeloor and Coimbatore became Koyampuththoor. The government was also panned for making an announcement of this nature in the middle of a pandemic, which has shown no signs of abating.

"We are working on alignment of view by experts on transliteration standards from Tamil to English. Hopefully, we should get this released in 2/3 days. The GO on the change of English names for Tamil names for places has been withdrawn. Will absorb all feedback & reissue shortly," Minister for Tamil Development K. Pandiarajan said in a tweet posted at 8-53 p.m. on June 18.

This was in response to the industrialist Gopal Srinivasan’s sharp reminder: "Dravidian ideologue Su Ba Veerapandian said if the government really wanted to help restore the authenticity… it should first provide a standard for English spellings. It’s not too late for transliteration standard." This tweet was just three hours before the withdrawal of the Government Order.

This is also the exact point that was brought up by former School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu as soon as the transliterations were made public six days ago. "We welcome it. This is what we were demanding. The government should have done it the first time itself," Thangan Thennarasu told Frontline. "There is no hurry. This work began about two years ago. The government should consult experts in the field and standardise. There is no pressing need to do it in two or three days because this will lead to avoidable mistakes. The effort should be to make it error free. There is no need to make this a priority during COVID time," he added.

The move to withdraw the government order was on the advice of Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, according to one official. This is one more sign that when it comes to lightweight Cabinet Ministers, the Chief Minister has his way, but he is yet to exhibit such forcefulness when it comes to cracking the whip with Ministers who command the support of a few MLAs. 

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