Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fort St George and the new Assembly complex

There was an interesting discussion yesterday at the Madras Club library between the two Chennai based historians S Muthiah and V Sriram about his the former's recent book "Madras revisited." Almost at the end of the discussion Mr Muthiah made a nice point about why the Fort St George is so important in the context of the history of modern India. It was from this fort that the city of Madras rose and it was the nerve centre for the growth of modern India under the British. The former CM, Mr Karunanidhi wanted a new Assembly complex only because the fort was a British legacy. What Kalaignar forgot or rather chose to ignore was that the fort did follow South Indian architecture, was built by Indian, specially Tamil & Telegu, artisans and used locally produced building materials. On the other hand the new Assembly commissioned by the Kalaignar has been designed by a German architect, and built using imported materials by Hindi speaking labour from Bihar & Jharkhand who could give our Hindi Prachar Sabha students a run for their money! Another point that Mr Muthiah made was that in all his earlier designs like the Valluvar Kottam, the Rajaji memorial, Kalaignar did try to bring out elements of the South Indian, specifically Chola style of building.