Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXIX No. 13, October 16-31, 2019
Anyone familiar with Tamil Nadu, or should we say Tamil culture in particular, would not be wrong in assuming that a visiting foreign dignitary is welcomed the traditional way – poorna kumbham, or an ensemble of nagaswaram and tavil, or a display of folk art. Maybe a presentation of something in local silk or a handicraft or two? All of these and more were on display at the informal summit between the Indian Premier and the Chinese President recently at Mamallapuram. What jarred was the State Government’s claim that it was customary to welcome visiting dignitaries by erecting digital banners.
This at least was the State’s plea when it approached the Courts last week with a request that it be allowed to erect banners along the route to Mamallapuram. The administrative agencies had been strongly chastised by the Court for allowing political parties to erect banners all over the city and State at will, one of which caused the death of a young woman last month and so the State was being extra cautious.
Faced with such a plea, the High Court of Madras had to give permission. It reminded the State Government that its strictures on banners pertained to political parties and not the executive itself, but safety measures had to be ensured. The question is, was the State at all warranted in filing such a plea? How could it claim that it was customary to erect banners to welcome distinguished visitors when such a practise did not exist in the State even four decades ago? Floral or cloth arches were the utmost we stretched ourselves to and we did a mighty aesthetic job of these. Banners and cut outs were not part of our tradition till very recently. While it would be too harsh to say that the State misled the Courts into granting permission, it is necessary to point out that it is shocking that the administration itself has come out in favour on the necessity of banners. It reeks of insensitivity in the light of the recent mishap. Based on this permission, the Government will now merrily erect banners for all events under its purview. And that means the party in power can also do the same, by cleverly portraying any event as being held with State support.
Dr. VIJAY SRIRAM sent us this picture when the nation celebrated Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. We are dedicating three pages in this issue to the Father of the Nation.
NITI Aayog’s annual comparative reviews of states’ performance with respect to education, public health and social progress fill an important void in monitoring public governance. To governments and policy makers, the reviews provide objective, quantitative feedback on specific aspects. The novel feature is that the reviews are not confined to evaluating the scale of infrastructure but, more importantly, its impact. To the public and tax payers, they provide a report on how much and how well the money has been spent. NITI Aayog’s third report for 2017-18 throws light on Tamil Nadu’s efforts at bettering its own performance
Language has always been an emotive issue and it is no wonder that it has played a crucial role in several conflicts in society. Eulogistic references to a regional language in a pluralistic society, no doubt, serve to raise the pride and self-esteem of the people.
My name is George Chambers. Roy Chambers was my grandfather. Thank you for posting this short history. I was born and have lived in Australia my whole life, but I would still like to visit India with my father one day to see this part of our history.