Tamil Nadu govt withdraws order to change names of 1018 towns

The Tamil Nadu government has withdrawn within a week the controversial order changing the English spellings of 1,018 places in the State after the decision and the timing of it amid the coronavirus pandemic had garnered mixed responses.

The State had changed the spellings to reflect the Tamil pronunciation and spelling of these places. The notification dated April 1 was released on June 10 and immediately there has been a flurry of reactions to them in social media, political parties and also from Tamil scholars.

Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, K Pandiarajan on Thursday announced that the notification issued for the change of names of 1,018 places in the State in accordance with their pronunciation in Tamil has been withdrawn.

He tweeted: “We are working on alignment of views by experts on Transliteration standards from Tamil to English. Hopefully, we should get this released in two to three days. The G.O on the change of English names for Tamil names for places has been withdrawn. Will absorb all feedback and reissue shortly.” The Minister was replying to a query from Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Capital Funds in Twitter.

Gopal Srinivasan asked “The BIG miss @mafoikprajan? Dravidian ideologue Su Ba Veerapandian said if the government really wanted to help restore the authenticity..it should first provide a standard for English spellings. It’s not too late for the transliteration standard!”

According to a government release issued earlier, an announcement had been made to change the names of places and towns in Tamil Nadu in such a way that they have the same phonetics in English and Tamil during the Tamil Nadu budget allocation session for 2018-2019. This was mainly because certain places have different names in English and Tamil such as Triplicane in English and Thiruvallilkeni in Tamil.

The state’s decision to re-name several popular towns and neighbourhoods has come under heavy criticism not just for its timing — in the middle of the debilitating COVID-19 Pandemic — but also for its choice of spellings in the pursuit to lean towards Tamil phonetics. For instance, the state decided to re-name Coimbatore to  ‘Koyampuththoor’, Vellore to ‘Veeloor’, and Tuticorin to ‘Thooththukkudi’.