*I was at a wedding recently in one of those suburbs that is the back of beyond of Madras — or are the suburbs doing that to Madras — and was introduced to a successful lawyer turned even more successful caterer. My host introduced me to him as the person who writes a column for The Hindu every week. And back came the enthusiastic response, “Oh, When the Postman Knocked?” I’ve heard this said so often I think my readers should take over the task of meeting deadlines!
*Referring to my item on Sir P. Rajagopalachari (Miscellany, August 12), Dr. R K Balasubramaniam, a parliamentary law consultant, tells me that the first President of the Council and his successors till the 1935 Government of India Act, were appointed by the Governor. Thus, the President (Speaker) was not responsible to the House, not being elected by it. Rajagopalachari, my correspondent continues, was followed by L.D. Swamikannu Pillai, who was the Secretary of the Legislative Council, Prof. M. Ruthnaswamy, C.M.V. Narashima Raju, and B. Ramachandra Reddi. Then came the 1935 Act under which Legislative Councils were converted to Legislative Assemblies with the power to elect their Speakers. The first Speaker to be elected by Madras Province was Bulusu Sambamoorthy, who had been a successful criminal lawyer in what was then Cocanada (Kakinada), writes Dr. Balasubramaniam. My records, however, list the first Speaker elected by the House as Dr. U.Rama Rau. Which is correct?
*Letters on novelist A. Madhaviah continues to keep the postman busy. Joshua Kulapati of Madras Christian College says that the Madras Christian College Magazine “spurred the literary zeal of Madhaviah when it published his early poems in English.” In March 1892, he praised his alma mater in these words:
Hail my Alma Mater,
And of thousands more,
Earlier, now and later,
Nurtured on thy lore,
In mighty thoughts and words,
grow thou, forevermore.
Later, he dedicated a collection of poems to the Rev. Miller, his mentor, in these words:
O thou with great and noble deeds encrowned!
This fading wreath of dull, unfragrant flowers,
knit in intervals of busy hours
I offer thee with reverence profound,
And seek to link this with thy deathless name
That so my verse too may endure with fame.
The Miller-Madhaviah role in women’s reform movements is at present the subject of research by Kirsten Bergman Waha who is doing her doctorate at the University of California, Davis. She was in Madras recently.
A tidbit on Madhaviah is added by T.S. Venkata Ramani who tells me that in a song competition Bharati’s famous Senthamizh naadeennum pothinile got second prize. The first prize was won by a poem by Madhaviah. I wonder whether there’s someone out there who has any idea about this prize-winning poem.