Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Watching factories

There was a time when one was expected to know how many Inspectors of Factories there were in the state, apart from their bosses, the Deputy Chiefs, on to Joint Chiefs, and thence to the Chief himself.  Considering that the Chief wielded the power to dictate how a factory should be run, he (it has always been he, I don't think Tamil Nadu ever had a woman chief so far) was a shoo-in to have his office in what was once a palace.

The Khalsa Mahal is the southern block of the Chepauk Palace, which was the residence of the Nawabs of Arcot. It was built in 1768 and was acquired by the government in 1850. It is likely that the initial designs were drawn up by Paul Benfield, but in the 1870s, they were expanded by Robert Chisholm. Khalsa Mahal survived quite intact through those efforts, but in recent years, the building has been sorely threatened by fires, and parts have actually been consumed by flames, as well.

The Chief Inspector of Factories may have shifted out of here by now. In fact, there is no more a position called Chief Inspector of Factories. The nomenclature has changed and it is now called Director of Industrial Health and Safety - and the (currently) 48 Inspectors have had their titles changed as Deputy Directors. Wonder if the factories are running ship-shape now!

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