Chennai, Oct 9 (IANS): Sixty-three years ago the then Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, who visited Madras (now Chennai), had said that his countrymen can come and learn from the practices of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) here.
Curiously, over the years China has gone way ahead, not only in the railways, but also in other sectors.
After a tour of ICF on December 6, 1956, Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, wrote in Chinese in the visitors book at ICF: "This is a modernised coach factory. It is worthwhile for the Chinese to come and learn. This factory is well-built and well-organised. The technology and training given are very good. It is worthwhile for the Orients to take pride in it."
The former Chinese Prime Minister had landed here on December 5, 1956, and was given a massive reception by the city council. The then Governor Sri Prakasa presented some mementoes to Zhou Enlai. At the end, Zhou Enlai had thanked the gathering.
As per the archives of the famous Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan, the Chinese leader also visited the Gemini Studios owned by S.S. Vasan.
Vasan garlanded Zhou Enlai and showed him around Gemini Studios.
Zhou Enlai also watched a movie shooting and the dance performance of actor Padmini.
The next day Zhou Enlai visited Mahabalipuram, now called Mamallapuram, and saw the rock cut temples and stone carvings.
He also visited the model village Kulpanthandalam, about 10 km from Mahabalipuram, and opened a maternity and child welfare centre there.
A picture of that visit does not indicate the presence of heavy security.
"There were no major security arrangements then. The villagers came to meet Zhou Enlai and some even shook hands with him. He also addressed the media at Mahabalipuram and had tender coconut water," Vakula S. Varadarajan, a historian, told IANS.
Zhou Enlai left Madras on December 7, 1956.