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A proud Madrasi

It is heartening that the 375th year of founding of Madras is celebrated with due elan. Much of the credit for this should go to historian S Muthiah. 25 years ago when Madras completed 350 years, Muthiah was keen that this historic landmark should be celebrated. He pointed to the grand preparations made by Kolkata for celebrating its 300th year. Sadly, there were no takers. The government was not enthusiastic about this; nor were the city corporation and the business community.

IE requested Muthiah to give expressions to his thought. The result was an elaborate, comprehensive story on the evolution of Madras through 350 years. We took the help of the ace photographer,  Narayanachar, of The Hindu to make available several landmark photographs. We carried a 12 page comprehensive report on the evolution of Madras through 350 years.

Soon after, Muthiah launched the Madras Musings to focus on the heritage, culture and other characteristics of this metro. But the going was not smooth. Lokavani Hall Mark Press Pvt Ltd agreed to bring out the fortnightly issues, but found the going economically not viable. Muthiah announced the stoppage of publication. Thanks to the interest evinced by N Sankar of the Chemplast group, this closure was averted. Sankar mobilised support from other business houses of Chennai for a steady flow of funding. This helped continue with the publication. For over some 17 years now, Muthiah has been spearheading his product of passion, musing on the various facets of Madras heritage and culture. In this effort, he has kindled the interest and involvement of dozens of heritage lovers. He runs indefatigable campaigns on the imperative to preserve dozens of heritage buildings.

Muthiah has been continuing the tradition of lovers of the history and heritage of Chennai. One remembers the rich contribution of M Krishnan of an earlier generation. Muthiah’s uncanny knack to spot talent has helped to attract contributions to Madras Musings from a large number of citizens.

A renowned journalist who has been a prolific writer on a variety of subjects  current and past - Muthiah has written several books on business leaders and the evolution of Madras. His biographical works on several business leaders and evolution of companies, notably Parrys’ and Simpsons, have been veritable reference works on the business history of Madras over the past couple of centuries and more.

Muthiah must be holding the record for being a sustained and regular contributor on Madras in his weekly Madras Miscellany column in The Hindu. He has been able to present the evolution of various facets of the history of Madras by intense research with the help of old documents.

This year’s celebration of the 375th year of the founding of Madras has been indeed extensive  with participation by a very large section of Chennaiites. Thank you, Muthiah, for this indefatigable effort.


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