How Media Made Karnataka and Tamil Nadu ‘Fight’ Over Mysuru Pak
Lord Macaulay apparently said Mysuru pak originated in Tamil Nadu. Is that true?
If you thought it was just West Bengal and Odisha fighting over the origins of food (aka the epic battle to own rosogolla)... well, you thought right. There’s word floating (not on social media or WhatsApp forwards this time, but on legitimate news publications) that after the two eastern states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are now fighting over the legacy of the delectable Mysuru pak. But are they really?
National daily Times of India was the first one to set the ball rolling, with a story headlined ‘Mysuru Pak is ours: Karnataka and Tamil Nadu fight it out’.
The story quoted Lord Macaulay, known for the ‘Minute on Indian Education’, as saying (in the “Indian Parliament” in 1835) that the famous sweet was invented in Tamil Nadu, and that the recipe was later appropriated by the king of Mysore.
Now, where is TOI even getting this information from? Is there any evidence of this? Well, yes, in fact, there is. In 2015, Twitter user Anand Ranganathan posted a screenshot of Macaulay’s purported speech.
The “authentic document” clearly quotes Macaulay as saying the recipe was smuggled from Tamil Nadu to Mysore.
But here’s the thing. Ranganathan meant it absolutely and completely... as a joke. I mean, did we really think Macaulay had a “good friend” named Lord Crincklybottom?!
The story has now been removed from TOI’s website, with a note saying, “This story has been removed because it was incorrect.”
But not before other leading news publications also picked it up.
Marathi daily Loksatta also carried the story in all seriousness.
Speaking to The Quint, Ranganathan said he “couldn’t believe this was actually happening.”
I saw indian media publishing stories based on that imaginary Macaulay story... [sic] I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. And on National Press Day to boot. What’s more, to lend more credence to the story, TOI even changed British parliament to Indian parliament, as to where Macaulay gave this mysore pak address! Indian parliament didn’t even exist then!
He added that he had tweeted the image – in which he had altered a purported quote by Macaulay – “just for fun”, never realising that media publications would take it seriously two years later.
In fact, if I remember correctly, I had probably tweeted a pic [sic] of mysore pak that I routinely have at Saravana Bhavan, and then sing paeans of it. And then I triggered a playful debate on indian sweetmeats, saying mysorepak is Tamilian. Folks from Karnataka disagreed. And so I took that viral fake quote of Macaulay (originally on teaching the natives english so as to conquer them etc) and inserted my imaginary story, with lord crinckleybottom featuring in it [sic]. That was 2 years and a bit ago!
Here is an image of the original viral quote attributed to Macaulay.
The origin of this infamous quote – about using English education to dominate the colonised Indians – is dubious too, according to a report by The Wire.
So to set the record straight, Macaulay never spoke of this fantastical tale about the origins of Mysuru pak, nor did he think learning the recipe was the way to dominate India. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu seem happy with whatever origin story the sweet may or may not have, and a good day was had by all.
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