Where Doyens of Coimbatore Were Mostly Known By Their Titles And Initials

People used to address each other in a respectable manner since long. It was during the early part of the twentieth century that tradition was carried forward while welcoming change in the form of the English language. The colonial rulers were really smart. They made people think that they denoted progress in spite of the fact that they had ruined the economy of the country. English began to prevail and people accepted the language during their period of submission. It started entering mainstream life through cinema and education. Words like ‘Hey Mister’ and ‘What Miss’ were used abundantly in Tamil cinema. Quite a few movies produced in Coimbatore carried these expressions. Now it is virtually difficult to see pure Tamil in use. The speakers are using it amidst the native languages like Tamil. In spite of being Indian, languages like Tamil, Hindi and Sanskrit have been relegated to a second place.
The manner in which people were addressed or referred to in the past was quite interesting for it was a Cosmopolitan and multi-lingual approach. Sometimes they were addressed as ‘Thiru’ (men) and ‘Thirumathi’ (married women). ‘Selvi’ was used for an unmarried girl or lady. People used ‘Sri’ (men), ‘Srimathi’ (women), ‘Chiranjeevi’ (youngster who was yet to be married) and ‘Sowbhagyavathi’ (for the unmarried girl). In some cases ‘Sriman’ was also used.
Invitations used carry nice prefixes like M.R.Ry (Maha Raja Rajashry). Some popular people were addressed by the title ‘Rao Bahadur’ or ‘Diwan Bahadur’ or ‘Rai Sahib’ too. These were the titles given by the English. Quite a few Coimbatoreans refused these titles for they were keen to be free from foreign rule. ‘Thiruvalar’ was also used by populace. ‘Avargal’ was a respectable suffix The Mariyadhai Tamil of the Kongu country evolved a style of its own and was identified very well in places like Chennai.
A number of elders were also known by the community name. Those days V.C.Vellingiri Gounder was referred to as ‘Gounder’, T.A.Ramalingam Chettiar as ‘Chettiar’ and Diwan Bahadur C.S.Rathinasabapathy Mudaliar as ‘Mudaliar’. Over time the influence of English and the dropping of community names became the order of the day. ATT meant Rao Bahadur A.T.Thiruvenkataswamy Mudaliar and his sons were known as ATL (A.T.Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar), ATK (A.T.Krishnaswamy Mudaliar) and ATD (A.T.Devaraja Mudaliar). In fact a street is named as ATD Street in Race Course. V.C.Vellingiri Gounder and his brothers were known as VCP (V.C.Palaniswamy Gounder), VCS (V.C.Subbiah Gounder) and VCK (V.C.Kumaraswamy Gounder). CSR meant that it was C.S.Rathinasabapathy Mudaliar. The Founder of the ELGI group was known as L.R.G.Naidu by his initials.
P.A.Raju Chettiar was known as PAR and he used these initials as his hall mark on each of the ornaments sold by him at his store. This became the norm for the rest of the country after this introduction in the year 1917. All the jewelers began to offer guarantees in a similar manner. The PSG family began to use the initials and it became a trademark also for the products made in the PSG Industrial Institute. G.R.Damodaran was known as GRD and his younger brother G.R.Govindarajulu was popularly addressed as GRG.
G.K.Devarajulu came to known as GKD (founder of LMW) and G.K.Sundaram (Lakshmi Mills) was known as GKS in the society. It was a time when it was considered to be disrespectful to refer to people by name and therefore initials were used for it was also convenient. Later on some of them began to use these initials for naming a number industries and institutions. D.Jayawarthanavelu (LMW) used to be known as DJ. G.K.Rajagopal of Lakshmi Mills who had been responsible for the development of golf in Coimbatore was known as GKR.
The Founder of the Sakthi Group Dr.N.Mahalingam was addressed as NM. Auditor C.G.Venkararamanan was popularly known as CGV. Textile technocrat K.Venkatesalu was addressed as KV. While R.Venkatesalu (Ramakrishna Group) was known as RV, his elder brother R.Doraiswamy Naidu was known as RD. Annur K.Govindaswamy Naidu has many institutions named after him and they are referred to as KG.
The doyen of industry R.Venkataswamy Naidu was known as RVS and his MIT educated younger brother was always addressed as PRR (P.R.Ramakrishnan). Prof PRR meant Professor P.R.Ramaswamy (Ramakrishna Group and Former Principal GCT). K.P.Subbian of Lakshmi Jewellery was well known as KPS. G.Ramaswamy Naidu of Sri Karthikeya Mills was known as GR. KVB meant K.V.Balasubramanian of Balasubramanya Mills.
V.L.Balakrishnan of Vijayalakshmi Mills was popularly known as VLB while his brother V.L.Venkatapathy was known as VLV. The four sons of P.S.G.Venkataswamy Naidu were addressed as GVR (G.V.Ramaswamy Naidu), GVD (G.V.Doraiswamy Naidu), GVM (G.V.Muthuswamy Naidu) and GVL (G.V.Lakshminarayanaswamy Naidu) respectively. GNV (G.N.Venkatapathy) was the son of P.S.G.Narayanaswamy Naidu. Dharmamurthy SRP.Ponnuswamy Chettiar was fondly referred to as SRP. SRP Nagar is named after him and he was a wonderful Municipal Chairman. The ELGI Brothers were known as LGB (L.G.Balakrishnan), LGV (L.G.Varadarajulu), LGR (L.G.Ramamurthy) and LGN (L.G.Nithyanandam).
B.Rangaswamy Naidu, the Founder of Rajalakshmi Mills continues to be known as BR. The famous bridge player A.R.Jagannathan is remembered as ARJ. Rotary Governor G.Varadaraj M.P was well known as GV. The Premier Mill brothers are fondly remembered as VNR (V.N.Ramachandran) and ND (N.Damodaran). Of course the other ND was N.Doraiswamy of the DPF family. G.D Naidu is only known by his initials.
Among the jewellers S.T.Radhakrishna Chettiar was known as STR and his initials were also his seal of guarantee. D.A.Ramachandran Chettiar used to addressed as DAR. B.M.Narasimha Chettiar continues to be known as BMN and shops exists in his name. R.Viswanathan Chettiar was known as RV and was extremely popular those days. His younger brother R.Ragunathan was known as RR. D.A. Sathyanarayana Chettiar was known as DAS. The successful wholesaler K.S.Pandurangan was known as KSP. The machine chain pioneer V.Srinivasan was known as VSV. Kirtilal Kalidas was referred to as KK. The Founder of BRN jewellery was B.R.Nataraja Chettiar.
K.S.Veerannah Chetty, the textile merchant was known as KSV and his brand came to be known as VEECO sarees. R.K.Venkatachalam Chettiar (Vasantha Mills) was known as RKV. The style caught on people continue to use initials to address each other in their everyday lives.
—Rajesh Govindarajulu

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