Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVI No. 11, September 16-31, 2016
Our historic Corporation has seen the end of term of yet another elected council. The dates have not yet been announced for the civic body polls but the present elected body has, after a final three-day session, called it a day. This is certainly a good time to sit back and assess what has been done in the past five years, what could have been done and what needs to be done in the future.
The outgoing council has certainly not covered itself with glory. Much of its time was spent in masterly inactivity and when it did take action, it dealt with humdrum matters– renaming roads and colonies, promoting itself to a higher status by adding the prefix ‘greater’ to its name, masterminding the proliferation of budget canteens, covering potholes and ruts with an extra layer of tar and rejoicing over the installation of luminescent signboards for street names. It also, like several previous ones, embarked on a wholly unnecessary Marina beautification drive. There was good work done by the departments of education and health and parks were well maintained. But these have historically been well run, no matter which party held sway over the council. The one big initiative has been the effort to reclaim sidewalks, but this battle is not yet won.
We cannot disagree with our Worshipful Mayor when he blamed the citizenry for much of Chennai’s ills. A newspaper report has it that on the last day of the council meet he held Chennai residents responsible for non segregation of garbage at source, open defecation, dumping of waste on streets, construction debris and sewage pollution. Much of what he said was true but the council had five years to set matters right on several of these counts. That we are a truly indifferent lot is and was not unknown when the present incumbents took their oaths. So what prevented the council from taking action? Campaigns could have been launched in the mass media, stringent action could have been taken on defaulters and we could have had some concrete action plan for implementing segregation of waste at source in a phased manner. None of this happened. Why should the civic body just blame the citizenry?
There is a lot happening at the Government Museum complex at Egmore. The Government had announced that the Bronze, Amaravathi and Zoology galleries would be expanded to permanently display the reserve collection of the museum. The modifications, to cost Rs 80 lakhs, will be completed by December this year and the exhibits that are currently locked up will all see the light of day. This it is claimed, should increase the footfalls at the museum, which is currently one of the principal tourist attractions of the city.
While this is no doubt highly commendable, what is of concern is the background to this decision. And that hides a malaise that the Government would do well to address. It is the practice among museums across the world to place on display only a percentage of their collection.
You are Chennai-bound. On a train.
It slows down after Perambur. It crawls past Vysarpaadi. It passes Basin Bridge and moves into Chennai Central Station.
What do you see around you, outside the window?
Less of the pleasant, I’m sure we would agree. A polluted, stinking Buckingham Canal. Naked bums behind bushes. Scrubland. Scrubs growing between rail lines. Mounds of paper cups, plastic covers and newspaper sheets.
Welcome to Chennai that is Madras.
During her Centenary…
M.S. Subbulakshmi’s crusade for Tamil Isai is a near forgotten chapter in her life. MS is remembered as the upholder of tradition, as a meek, unassuming, modest, super-conservative Indian woman of the old school. How interesting then to see MS in the role of a rebel! In the 1930s and 1940s, she found herself in the midst of an aggressive, no-holds-barred, controversy.
It was a grand concept: to commemorate the centenary of M.S. Subbbulakshmi, to set up a chair in her name at an American university and also to raise resources for expanding the charitable activities of Sankara Nethralaya (SN). But poor execution resulted, unfortunately in a substantial deficit.