The study of the pastoral methods evolved by the foreign missionaries in Vellore Diocese in 19th and 20th centuries calls for a glance at and a grasp of geographic, historical, social, economic, political, cultural and religious realities of the times. Therefore, it is necessary to make a situation-analysis through available literature, documents, and personal interviews.
The region called “North Arcot District” experienced many a change under political and social influences. In the course of time, the North Arcot District was divided into two districts, namely Vellore and Thiruvannamalai for better administration. The Catholic diocese of Vellore is comprised of the above two districts. In this chapter, a brief historical overview on North Arcot (which has seen kings and kingdoms, battles, victories and defeats, growths and destructions) is presented along with some geophysical, environmental and demographic details proper to this region.
Glimpse at the History of North Arcot District
In the region, for about 200 years, there were countless changes in the way of formation of kingdoms and their capitals. The ‘North’ and the ‘South’ regions of Arcot came into the political map in 1810 at the time of the last Mughal Emperor. Later in 1908, the two districts namely North and South Arcot came into existence. Chittoor (Now in Andhra Pradesh) was the first capital of the North Arcot district. From then on, it was the principal military base of the British. In 1911, Vellore became the head quarters of North Arcot Dt. comprising Vellore and Thiruvannamalai.
There were frequent changes in regional boundaries between 1911 and 1956. When new states were created after the Independence, the North Arcot District comprised mainly of Vellore and Thiruvannamalai regions. For administrative reasons, in 1989, North Arcot District was divided into two districts, namely ‘North Arcot Ambedkar District’, having Vellore as its capital and ‘Thiruvannamalai Sambuvarayar District’ having Thiruvannamalai as its capital.
During the 1980s, districts were named after great leaders to commemorate their memory and pay tribute for their distinguished service. This trend created social unrest and occasionally rampant violence based on caste. Claims and demands were in plenty from all over to name public transport corporations and districts after political and popular leaders and these claims and demands sparked off the fire of casteism.
As communal violence was on increase, the Government of Tamil Nadu under the Chief-ministership of M. Karunanidhi, on July 2, 1997, removed the names of persons from the district names, and renamed them after the capitals of the districts.
These two districts of Vellore and Thiruvannamalai form the Catholic Diocese of Vellore. Henceforth, whenever the word ‘North Arcot’ occurs in this dissertation, it denotes Vellore and Thiruvannamalai districts. The Taluks of Vellore, Arakonam, Walajah, Arcot, Gudiyatham, Katpadi, Vaniambadi and Tirupattur are in Vellore district, while Thiruvannamalai, Chengam, Arni, Polur, Cheyyar and Vandavasi taluks are in Thiruvannamalai district.