Monday, March 28, 2005

What’s in a name? Part-II (University of Madras Vs Anna University

(University of Madras Vs Anna University

This post is going to give my age away... but hey what the heck

When I joined the College of Engineering, Guindy, I joined the Peraringer Anna University of Technology (PAUT) which was virtually unknown even within Tamil Nadu. Fortunately, saner minds prevailed and the university was rechristened to simply ‘Anna University’, the name by which it is known all over the world today.

Students demand University of Madras degree certificate
We the students at that time did not accept the name change lightly and went on a ‘strike’. We demanded our degrees be awarded by University of Madras and NOT by Anna University. The rationale was, University of Madras is a known brand internationally and Anna University is virtually unknown even inside Tamil Nadu. Government of Tamil Nadu partly conceded to our demand and issued degrees under the aegis of University of Madras for students who joined the college prior to the creation of Anna University. (It is another story that my batch got our degrees from Anna University as we had joined the college after.)

Students strike again after 24+ years
The name Anna University grew in its popularity and has now come to be recognized across the world. The brand value of Anna University is very strong now. By this time, lots of engineering colleges have mushroomed in Tamil Nadu and education became a cottage industry. There are more than 30 engineering colleges in Chennai where there only 3 in 1979.

Last year, the students went on a ‘strike’. This time they were protesting against the dilution of ‘Anna University’ brand name. Government of Tamil Nadu decided to bring all engineering colleges (200+) under the Anna University umbrella. The students felt this move would dilute the brand value and didn’t want the brethren from University of Madras and other universities to get their degrees from Anna University.

While the rationale of two sets of students spread nearly quarter century apart to strike was almost identical, the goal was diametrically opposite. While we struck to avoid our degree being awarded by Anna University and they (students of the same school after a quarter century) stuck to keep the exclusivity of the Anna University brand.

What was ‘bad’ and unpopular at its inception has now become ‘good’ and popular in a quarter century.

So, what would the status of ‘Chennai’ brand say in 2020? Would there still be a debate on Madras Vs Chennai?