Sunday, June 4, 2023

Changeover man

You are probably aware that the Corporation of Chennai is the second oldest in the world, having been established in September 1688. The office of its Mayor, would have had an unbroken 335 year streak had it not been for changes in the way the Corporation was structured and run. 

The first break happened thanks to the French. Between 1746 and 1748, when they had control over Fort St George, the Mayoralty of the city was suspended and for some reason, it was not restored until 1753. And then, for long stretches in the early part of the 19th century, the Corporation functioned without a Mayor. For a while, it was the Justice of Peace who played the Mayoral role, before a committee of three Municipal Commissioners collectively did it. The term was changed in 1886, and the head of the Corporation came to be called President. And then it was in 1933 that the title reverted to 'Mayor'. While that has remained the same, the office itself has been suspended twice since. The long stretch between 1973 and 1996 saw the Mayoralty suspended, as it was again for 6 years between 2016 and 2022. 

But this photo is of a statue at the end of Pantheon Road; it shows Mayor Thamarapakkam Sundara Rao Naidu. Even though his tenure was for a year, as was usual during the 1930s-1960s, Sundara Rao's was special. As Mayor between 1946 to 1947, it was he who saw the transition from the British Raj to independent India!


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