Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVIII No. 10, September 1-15, 2018
Children from Jagannath Vidyalaya, Kelambakkam, displaying their paintings at the art contest held as part of Madras Week celebrations.
Yet another edition of Madras Week has come and gone. We have had the usual chorus of hallelujahs and also an equal number of naysayers who have been predicting for the past 14 years, ever since Madras Week began, that it is all a flash in the pan that will soon peter out. But the strangest of the lot are the ones that keep harping that the events are all a celebration of the colonial period of Madras. Let us do a quick analysis.
It has taken over forty years to take concrete steps towards resolving the fishing rights dispute between Tamil Nadu fisherfolk and the predominantly Tamil fisherfolk of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Though through an exchange of letters in 1976, India and Sri Lanka agreed to stop fishing in each other’s waters, Tamil fishermen, knowing no international borders in eking out a living, have been transgressing international borders, exposing themselves to jail by Sri Lankan authorities. Over the years, hundreds of our fishermen have had to undergo jail sentences causing loss of livelihood and hardship to their families. Even as we write this, 27 fishermen have been arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities.
Chennai shut down quite completely on August 8, 2018, the day after former Chief Minister Karunanidhi died. No shop, office, factory or school was open, nothing moved on the roads. No one had to compel any one to shut shop.
This reminds me of my experience when then Chief Minister MGR died on December 24, 1987. The death occurred early morning. I was not aware of it when I took a flight to Madurai. I was scheduled to take a taxi from there to Kanyakumari to interview the fishermen community there for a UN fisheries project, which I served as Information Officer.
The first day of August.
Many many years ago, when the ‘Madras Day’ idea came to life; the idea that city historian S. Muthiah kept tossing about and friend Sasi Nair and I said, “Time to roll this Chief”
An idea that was simple – celebrate the city – its history, its people, its institutions. In simple ways. And voluntarily.
The book featured in this issue, The Madrasiana (W.T. Munro, 1868) turns 150 this year. It is an interesting compilation of all things significant in the Madras of its time.