Hortan or Arunachalam ?

Hortan or Arunachalam ?

Horton Place is to be renamed Ponnamabalam Arunachalam Mawatha. Residents of Horton Place are up in arms against the proposal by the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) to rename the road Ponnambalam Arunachalam Mawatha, while the family of Ponnamabalam Arunachalam has defended the renaming.

The practice of changing the names of places and roads named after foreign rulers after gaining independence is common, as seen in the transition from Horton Place to Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam Mawatha in Colombo-7. This renaming offers an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of both Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, Governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837, and Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, a prominent figure in late 19th and early 20th-century Ceylon.

Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, educated in Eton and Oxford, served as governor to implement the 1833 Colebrooke Commission’s report on constitutional reforms. Despite challenges in forming a diverse Legislative Council, Horton made significant strides in abolishing forced labor, repealing discriminatory laws, and boosting trade and economic activity. He also laid the foundation for a judiciary, established the Colombo Academy, and contributed to local media, though facing criticism and the closure of the Colombo Journal.

Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, coming from a privileged background and educated at Cambridge, joined the Ceylon Civil Service. Notable for conducting the 1901 census and publishing works on Ceylon’s legal traditions, history, and culture, Arunachalam was a key figure in the formation of the Ceylon University Association. As a fierce nationalist and leader, he advocated for self-government and played a pivotal role in the Ceylon Reform League, the Ceylon National Association, and the Ceylon National Congress.

Arunachalam’s efforts for reforms faced challenges from Governor Manning and internal divisions among Ceylonese. Despite advocating for mass mobilization, the reform movement primarily attracted the educated class. Disappointed with the lack of support and prevarication by Manning, Arunachalam resigned from the Ceylon National Congress and formed a conservative Tamil party.

Related Articles