Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVIII No. 1, April 16-30, 2018
Of late, our State Government has been coming up with rules and regulations that can only be termed draconian and extremely regressive, when it comes to public spaces. In the past 24 months, the only answer to certain incidents that have taken place has been to shut off all access to the locations where these happened. Thereafter, no corrective action of any kind is taken, thereby showing that what can at best be a temporary measure becomes permanent and as a consequence making the innocents suffer while those who caused the original incidents are left to go scot free. We allude to the shutting off of the Marina for all congregations, the blanket ban on all trekking in Tamil Nadu forests, and the fire in the Pudu Mandapam at the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai.
It is now almost 15 months since the flash agitation for Jallikattu took place on the Marina. As to why that protest happened and who exactly were backing it remains a mystery even now. But what people have had to live with since then are restrictions of access as far as the beach is concerned. This has, of late, become even more severe, what with the State Government having fears that those demanding Cauvery water could well congregate here. As a result, two-wheelers can no longer park along the beach and the public is not allowed on the promenade.
In a parallel to this is the instance of the forest fire at Theni, which, sadly consumed the lives of several trekkers. The Government has since imposed a blanket ban on all trekking activities. Yet another incident, which echoes these, is the fire at the Pudu Mandapam in Madurai. Following this there have been calls to remove all shops from all HR&CE temples in order to prevent such incidents. Can wholesale eviction be a solution? Shops and rental incomes from these have been an integral part of temples for decades now.
All these incidents point to the failure of agencies run by the Government. A public space is meant for the public to congregate and, if necessary, express their opinion. Even Freedom Struggle meetings have happened at the Beach. It is a Government’s duty to address such issues and ensure that the protesting public disperses peacefully.
Similarly, in the case of the Theni fire, the trekkers did buy entry tickets and go into the forest. And so permission of a kind had been taken. As to what fire warning systems there are in place, is the question to be answered. World over, there are designated trekking areas in wooded districts. These have safety warnings, places to take shelter in, in the event of disasters, and methods to track those who are trapped. It is doubtful if any of these protective measures were in place at Theni. Now, instead of ensuring these are implemented, the Government has chosen to shut off all access to trekking. What purpose does this serve? The forests will only become dens of anti-social activities with perhaps worse disasters to follow.
As for the Meenakshi Amman Temple, the public has for long noticed what was invisible thus far to our fire and safety authorities – dumping of plastics, drawing of wires all across the place and usage of lighting and power of wattage that was far beyond what was permitted. The precinct was inviting a fire and when it happens, there are calls for evicting all shops from not only this temple but from every other historic shrine. Is it even feasible to implement?
No public entertainment in this space, the Anna Nagar Tower Park. (Picture: R. Raja Pandian.)
A notice by the City Corporation, prohibiting group dance and musical instruments in the Tower Park in Anna Nagar and threatening police action against violators, has rightly disappointed citizens.
Recently I wrote an article on the Madras Tramways under the title Remembering Metro’s Ancestor (MM, February 16th, 2018). It elicited some response and led to a discussion on how names got distorted. Read attached and my reply.
“What With All The Jokes And Taunts, I Used To Envy People With Simple, Common Names, And Then There Were Those Very English Names Which No One Made Fun Of. I Often Wondered Why I Should Not Change Mine.”
By the time I was old enough to recognise my maternal grandfather, he was past 70. My earliest memory is of him reclining in a huge easy chair in a corner of a large hall, lost in thought, his fingers restlessly moving the beads of an imaginary rudrakshamala. He always seemed to wear a stern look. He spoke little. No one dared disturb his endless contemplation, except my grandmother and, of course, the newly-arrived grandson.
The congregation emerging from St. Andrew’s after the special service celebrating the Kirk’s 200th birthday.
The foundation stone for this most handsome house of prayer, St. Andrew’s Kirk, was laid on April 8, 1818 and to commemorate this, a special service was held on Friday, April 8, 2018, at the Kirk.
The Rev. Isaac Johnson, Presbyter of the Kirk led the prayers. As part of the service, key members of the congregation spoke on significant features of the Kirk.
The House Sparrow was very much a part of the ethos of Madras, that is now Chennai. Its disappearance is a cause for great concern. Saving the House Sparrow and its habitat is akin to saving the heritage of Chennai. This, in essence, is the focus of this Citizens’ Initiative Project – Sparrow Census with MNS – begun on March 25, 2018. The project aims at encouraging citizens to carry out the census in their neighborhood as often as possible till July 31, 2018, and report their Sparrow sightings to MNS through its website: www.blackbuck.oro.in Using the data, a digital Sparrow Atlas will be created for Greater Chennai by end-August, 2018.