When cities pair off
Sister city San Antonio
I was recently delighted to hear that Madras had decided to pair off with San Antonio, Texas, with His Worship M. Subramaniam, the Mayor of Madras, signing an agreement with Phil Hardberger, the Mayor of San Antonio.
The latest of San Antonio’s eight Sister Cities, Madras certainly would have much to benefit from the Texan city if it studies well the eco-friendly development of a 13-mile stretch of the San Antonio River, which includes a river walk, and wooded hiking and biking trails.
Mayor Hardberger also would like to team up with Madras on an exchange programme for students, professionals such as doctors and architects, and the whole range of artists, from the traditional to the modern. All this, and business partnerships too.
But while welcoming the twinning, may I remind His Worship the Mayor of Madrasthat in 1984, Madras became Denver, Colorado’s seventh Sister City, the Indo-American Association, 35-years-old at the time, playing a major role in midwifing the partnership. Little has come of that partnership, except some virtually personal exchanges arranged by the Association, such as a visit by some Denver students to Madras and a visit years later to Denver by a delegation from the Association. The one major contribution was the installation of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Denver, through the efforts of the Association and a similar group in Denver in1996.
Following this, the then Mayor of Madras, His Worship M.K. Stalin wrote to the Indo-American Association in 1997, “I wish that this laudable work shall continue and strengthen the bondage between the two Cities well.” The Mayor of Denver then invited Mayor Stalin to visit Denver and, in turn, looked forward “to visiting with you and sharing information about our great cities.”
A more fruitful partnership seemed to be on the horizon, when in 2000 a trade delegation from Denver visited Madras and met the Mayor, city officials and chambers of commerce. But nothing really came of that visit — and Denver was forgotten in official circles.
I now hope His Worship the Mayor, M. Subramanian, will revive the Denver relationship, too, and initiate a regular programme of exchanges between Madras and Denver and Madras and San Antonio, particularly to give the Americans a glimpse of our history and culture and our officials and other visitors an opportunity to learn how to improve our city.
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