METRO PLUS

When the postman knocked…

Reader Indukanth Regade, referring to my item on Dr. S.R.U. Savoor (Miscellany, January 7), felt that I had got it all wrong, that Dr. S.R.U. was not a Director of Meteorology in Madras, that it was S.R. Savur. According to Science and Modern India - An Institutional History 1784-1947, “The three part-time posts of Meteorologists at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay were filled by Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis, Dr.S.R.U. Savoor and M.V.D. Iyer.” And the 1921 Madras Department of Meteorology Report lists Dr. S.R.U. Savoor as being in charge of the Madras Observatory (the main observatory had moved to Kodaikanal) from May to December 1921. No matter how hard I searched for information about S.R. Savur, all I could find him listed as was only as being from the Indian Meteorological Department, Poona, under which description he had authored several valuable papers in the 1930s. There was no reference to him and a Madras connection. Perhaps someone connected with the Meteorological Department will set us all straight.

If it was a Pandalay, there had to be a medical connection as I had indicated in Miscellany, January 14, and, sure enough, Justice K.K. Pandalay was the father of Dr. G. Madhusudhan and grandfather of Dr. M. Krishnan, the former being his uncle Dr. K.G. Pandalay’s anaesthetist for 40 years at the Pandalay hospital (“now defunct”). Reader Krishnan provides this information and adds that his grandfather lived in Lanark Hall , a garden house on Rundall’s Road, “which was the eye hospital before the Institute in Egmore got its facilities.” He also tells me that Justice Pandalay’s most famous judgement was in what was known as the ‘The Gandhi Cap Case.’ N.L. Rajah, in his history of the 150 years of the Madras High Court, lists it as one of the cause cèlébres of the Court. Apparently in June 1930, the District Magistrate of Guntur passed an order that the Gandhi cap could not be worn by anyone in a public place in Guntur and within five miles of it. Negotiations on this went back and forth, but the Magistrate eventually backed the Police plea that they could not differentiate between who was a member of the Civil Disobedience Movement (all of whom wore the caps) and who was not but who might be wearing the cap. In rejecting the contention that the order was necessary for safeguarding public tranquillity, Justice Pandalay, who heard the appeal, stated that those who wore the Gandhi cap could not necessarily be considered supporters of the Civil Disobedience Movement; such an inference would be an injustice to the numerous persons who wore the cap as a mark of sympathy with Gandhi’s views for a long time before the Civil Disobedience Movement. It was well-known that Gandhi was interested in several other causes besides the Movement. He did not think there was any danger in allowing people to wear the Gandhi cap in Guntur. Reader Krishnan takes this further and states that he had heard it said that his grandfather had, in the course of his judgement, said that if an Englishman can wear a top hat or a bowler or a peak cap or a pith helmet as part of his attire, there was no reason why an Indian couldn’t wear a Gandhi cap, which was part of the national dress of many. Dr. Manorama Sridhar says that her father was O (for Ooty) V. Raju and not C.V. Raju as I had it last week. I’m afraid I let the gremlin in my Olivetti get away from me. Mea culpa.

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