As an alternative to anglicized version of names and to match with Tamil pronunciation, Tamil Nadu government has come out with a new list for 1,081 towns and villages which included 94 Chennai localities with correct spellings.
The GO issued by Tamil Development Authority said that a group of language experts, representatives of Tamil organizations and professors along with government administrators finalized the names at the district level and later at the state level. These 1,018 towns and cities have been given a phonetic changeover to correspond with the Tamil spellings.
It is to be remembered that during the DMK regime in 1996, Madras became Chennai. Neighboring Karnataka state too came out with a new names for Bengalaru, Mysooru, Sivamogga etc. In Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad reverted to its original name of Prayagraj, Calcutta became Kolkata while Bombay changed back to Mumbai. It is said the the TN government wanted to go for name change to cater to the Tamil sentiments as its handling of Corona crisis left much to be desired.
TN Gazette dated April 1, 2020 says during the debate on the demands for Tamil Development for the year 2018-19, it was announced that English spelling of the cities, towns should be the same as in Tamil. To make that demand into practice, the government has come out with a list of 1,018 localities after deliberations of two years .
According to the Go, VOC Nager becomes Va OO Si Nagar, Kodungaiyar is now spelt Kodungaiyoor, Veprey to Vepperi , Chintadripet becomes Chintadripettai, Triplicane as Thiruvallikeni, Mylapore become Mayillaapoor, Purasaivakkam (Purasawalkam) Egmore to Ezhumboor.
Other cities in the state that have a new names are Koyamputhuthoor (Coimbatore) Thirutthurai Poondi ( old name – Tiruthuraipundi) Kudavaasal ( Kudavasal) Orattha Naadu ( Orathanadu) Veeloor (Vellore) Thiruvaroor (Thiruvarur), Boothankudi (Budangudi), Sivagangai ( Sivaganga) Pazhaya Tharummapuri (Hale Dharmapuri), Tharumapuri ( Dharmapuri), Poovirundhavalli (poonamallee), Aariyur (Ariyur), Thiruvaikundam (Srivaikundam), Oorapakkam (Urapakkam), Thiruvilliputhuthur (Srivilliputtur), Anaikkattu (Anaicut) Ranipettai (Ranipet), Aarkadu (Arcot) Yelagiri Malai (yelagiri hills), Vizhuppuram (Villupuram) Mathurai ( Madurai), Vaththalagundu (Vatalagundu) Kaadu Pasuvan Maalam ( Ka P Maalam) and it goes on district wise.
Tamil Nadu has emerged the second worst affected corona virus in the country. TN, worst hit state in southern India, crossed 40,000 mark on 12th June and fatality toll touching 367 cases as per the latest data available. Those who died included DMK MLA J Anbalagan who was considered to be the right hand man of M K Stalin. At a time when the opposition parties are blaming the Edapaddi K Palaniswamy for its handling of Corona pandemic, the government's move to change the names of 1,018 towns and cities with localized Tamil spelling has come in for much criticism.
The new name change game has attracted criticism from netizens and public at large. They questioned the timing and purpose for the same at a time when Corona infections are at its peak. They said names have never been an issue and none wanted new spellings. However, Tamil lovers hailed the government move. They pointed out that Britishers who could not spell properly and pronounce name of cities correctly, changed it to suit them. The Anglicized versions do not reflect the original Tamil Names. TN Government has justified its decision as it said the list would reflect the Tamil spelling and pronunciation of names. In social media, netizens posted hilarious memes.
Tamil Culture Minister Ma Foi K Pandiya Rajan said after getting Chief Minister’s nod, town and cities whose name are in Sanskrit would be changed to Tamil. Mere announcement of Tamil equivalent for cities is not an end. It is a beginning of a cumbersome process which costs exchequer heavily. The authorities have to make alterations in signage on highways, railway stations besides updating government records, postal and allied services. It would be an uphill task. It will take time for people to get accustomed to the new spellings.