When Gandhi rode a Madras bus

Gandhi had a close-knit but somewhat tumultuous relationship with Madras which in over fifty years he would visit twenty times. In 1896 Gandhi first visited Madras and newspapers reported that he ‘read out’ a protracted speech which the crowd at Pachaiyappan hall was patient enough to hear fully. 20 years later and a satisfactory orator…

Individual Sathyagraha movement

“No quantity but quality please. And I assure victory” said Gandhi promoting his latest  method to needle the British empire. The radicals in Congress wanted to launch a mass Civil Disobedience Movement and get everyone onto the streets, but Gandhi insisted on “Individual Satyagraha’. The sathyagrahis had to be approved by Gandhi himself. After serving…

The Madras influence on American Independence

The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748, sometimes called the Treaty of Aachen, ended the War of the Austrian Succession France regained Cape Breton Island in Canada, lost during the war, and it returned the captured city of Madras in India to Great Britain. British colonists in New England and merchants back in Great Britain resented the return of Louisbourg to the French which they had captured the stronghold in…

1947: A Madras story

What was it like to live in this city the year India celebrated its much-awaited independence?Seventy years have passed since that momentous date. One that changed the lives of billions living and those yet to be born. But what was Madras like during the historic year of 1947? And what did everyday life look like?…

The Jhansi of Madras

A suffocating marriage had Lakshmi fleeing from the city she had grown up in. She boarded a ship setting sail from Madras to Singapore in June 1940. (following a fellow doctor she would only later identify as K whom she thought she was in love with). A divorced 26 year old gynecologist, Lakshmi hoped to…

Hindi nahi hai !

In February 1940, Governor Erskine issued what was perhaps his last order before demitting office and one close to his heart. It was a communiqué retracting compulsory Hindi tutoring in Madras schools. It was three years before, in one rare lowering of the barriers by the British that the Congress came to power. The Governor…