Renaming of Madras State as Tamil Nadu


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Renaming of TN

Mains level: Post-independence consolidation

Tamil Nadu Governor’s remarks suggesting changing the name of the state to ‘Tamizhagam’ has triggered a controversy.

What is the news?

  • Several political parties, including the TN CM, condemned the speech and recalled the struggle to rename the Madras State to Tamil Nadu.
  • It was on January 14, 1969, that the Madras State was officially renamed Tamil Nadu, under the then Chief Minister CN Annadurai.

A short history of Tamil Nadu

  • Social activist E V Ramasamy, fondly known as ‘Periyar’ (1879-1973), had started the Self-Respect Movement in 1925 to “redeem the identity and self-respect” of Tamils.
  • He envisaged an independent Dravida homeland of Dravida Nadu (In Tamil, Nadu means country), comprising Tamil, and Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada speakers.
  • He launched a political party called the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK).
  • Periyar also opposed the imposition of Hindi and emphasized the need for a cultural identity of the Tamil nation.

How Madras State became Tamil Nadu?

  • Formerly called Madras Province, it had been renamed Madras State on January 26, 1950.
  • The name Madras State did not become Tamil Nadu overnight.
  • Congress party worker ‘Thiyagi’ Sankaralingam was behind the first demand to change the name, in the 1950s, and made repeated representations.
  • In 1953, several Tamil scholars including Ma. Po. Sivagnanam raised the demand in the Madras Legislative Council.
  • In 1956, Congress leader K P Sankaralinganar began an indefinite fast. One of his demands was the renaming of the state to Tamil Nadu.
  • It is noted that Sankaralinganar fasted for 76 days, which resulted in his death on October 13, 1956. Sankaralinganar’s death further spurred on the fight for renaming the state.

Reception in Parliament

  • Around the same time, Member of Parliament and Communist leader from West Bengal, Bhupesh Gupta, moved a Bill in Parliament for renaming Madras State as Tamil Nadu.
  • At that time, CN Annadurai, who was a Rajya Sabha member, supported the move.
  • Speaking in favour of the Bill, Annadurai argued that a capital city (Madras) cannot become the name of a state and he also cited that the name Tamil Nadu had been used in ancient literature.

When it finally happened?

  • Cut to six years later, on July 18, 1967, CM Annadurai prepared a resolution in the State Assembly.
  • During the debate, Opposition Leader P G Karuthiraman said, “Madras is a name in world history; Tamil Nadu will take time to reach the same heights”.
  • So, he suggested that the name ought to be ‘Tamil Nadu-Madras State’.
  • But, after consensus, Tamil Nadu was accepted as the name and a resolution passed unanimously.


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