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Vol. XXXI No. 2, May 1-15, 2021
By the time this issue is in circulation, the results of the Tamil Nadu assembly elections will be out and a new government in place. It does not matter as to who wins as far as we are concerned. We only hope that the elected representatives do what is right when it comes to governance. We at Madras Musings are therefore sending this partial wish list on behalf of the city for their consideration –
Can we please have elections to the Greater Chennai Municipal Corporation? While it may all be fine for a city to be administered by bureaucrats, ours being the oldest modern civic body in India needs to have an elected council. Councillors are far more accountable to the public than faceless officials. We have got on without a council for five years now which is a crying shame. And while holding the elections can we ensure that we abide by all safety protocols given that we are battling a pandemic of epic proportions?
Can we please come to grips with Covid? We are seeing state governments across the country being exposed for their pathetic handling of the situation. There are shortages of beds, ventilators and oxygen, apart from a huge stress being placed on medical personnel. Tamil Nadu and Chennai have not yet reached the high levels of infection that other states are reporting but chances are that the situation will spiral out of control. We need a proactive government that anticipates shortages on one hand and on the other is firm about outlawing unnecessary political, religious and social gatherings. Harsh though this may sound, much of the present chaos on Covid is due to lax implementation of safety regulations and a sense of false security that we have conquered the virus. We need to fight against such hubris.
Can we not waste time on investigating all the previous government’s actions? This point of course becomes valid only if a new party comes to power. But if it does, it would be far better off focusing on matters of governance than spending precious resources on how it can fix the opposition. In the past couple of days, we have seen all parties come together in a healthy precedent in order to allow the reopening of the Sterlite plant in Thoothukkudi for the manufacture of oxygen. Can this same mature consideration and thought prevail for the greater good?
Can we please have an industrial policy that looks not just at Chennai but at the state? While it is true that Tamil Nadu has its industries spread out quite well, the city has historically cornered much of it. If at all the pandemic has taught us something it is the necessity to decongest. Can we therefore focus on infrastructure building across the state so that IT and manufacturing industries spread out so that there is less of migration to the city?
Tamil Nadu is seeing a steady increase in fresh coronavirus cases, with the number of active cases in the state touching 1,05,180 on April 25. Chennai reportedly accounts for 30 per cent of all active cases in the state, recording 31,535 cases. In fact, the city’s covid positivity rate is said to be almost twice that of the state, making it a crucial battleground in the fight against the pandemic.
Vijaya, with her vegetable cart.
For most residents of Alwarpet, Vijaya is a familiar face.
RK receiving Tholkappiar Award from Dr. Pranab Mukherjee.