Prema Kasturi, former head of the history department, WCC, deserves kudos for relentlessly following up with colleges and goading the professors she knows to get their students to contribute in some way towards remembering the city during Madras Week. One of the colleges that took the initiative, thanks to her persuasion, was Presidency College. And the credit here must go to Professor S. Amarnath, who has, along with his brother and sister, contributed a great deal in bringing Tamil culture alive, especially among children.
Prema has now forwarded me a report about how students of the college participated in the Madras Day celebrations. This is what it says: ‘As a part of the Madras Day Celebrations, a group of 20 post-graduate students from the Department of History, Presidency College, Chennai, undertook a train journey which started from Thiru Mayilai to Beach Station by MRTS on 22nd August, 2007. They were led by their professor, Dr. S. Amarnath, who explained the historical significance of this great city and enabled the students rediscover the heritage buildings along the Marina Beach. The students are currently doing a paper on Madras. The Students were not only thrilled to have an aerial view of these buildings but were also amazed to learn the facts. The stretch included Kapali Temple, Santhome Church, IG Office, QMC, Ice House, Presidency College, Chepauk, Madras University Buildings, Napier Bridge, Island Grounds, Rippon Building, General Hospital, Reserve Bank of Indian, Fort St. Gorge, The High Court, and the Harbour. It was a real eye opener for these young people who were exposed to the rich past of this city for the first time, since most of them are from various districts of Tamil Nadu. The journey concluded with the students being asked to carry forward the message, “Madras Nalla Madras.” They were enthused to sing “Happy Birthday to Madras”; they then distributed Parry chocolates (Thomas Parry remembered) and disbursed with sweet memories. Prof. B. Ramanathan, Head of the Department of History, Presidency College, exteneded his fullest support to make the event possible.’
Well done, Dr Amarnath! May the good work continue in the coming years as well.