Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXX No. 22, March 16-31, 2021
The State Assembly elections are on us and all parties are promising a bright future in case they are voted to power. A barrage of freebies is on offer but that is not something we would like to comment upon – several of the ones implemented have in the long run had a beneficial impact on the State and those that do not translate into reality do not matter anyway except perhaps as potential promises to be renewed in future elections. But what is a matter of surprise is that all political parties, and more importantly the two principal players in our State, have chosen to remain silent on a promise to revive elections for the Council of the Greater Chennai Corporation. This does not bode well for us, the people who reside here.
Our city’s Corporation may be one of the oldest in the modern world, but its history is not one of undiluted glory. In the early 1970s investigations brought to light what was known as the muster roll scandal – a sordid story wherein salaries were being paid to staff based on fictitious rolls, the money being shared between politicians, administrators and staff. That led to several high-profile arrests and much adverse publicity though it must be said that in the long run very little action by way of convictions really ensued. The Council was suspended and the city administered via Special Officers of the IAS cadre. This scenario persisted till the mid 1990s when elections were held again. Thereafter the Corporation functioned via a Council till 2014 with regular elections being held in the interim.
The Covid-19 vaccination drive is picking up speed even as Chennai sees a rise in the number of fresh cases. According to a list published by the Greater Chennai Corporation on its website, citizens can be vaccinated at what seems to be a wide network of urban community and primary health centres apart from government and private hospitals. According to ground reports, however, private hospitals seem to be bearing the brunt of patient footfalls.
Our OLD features Ripon Buildings, photographed in 1913, the year it was inaugurated. Our NEW is of its Council chamber, all empty, photographed by Vinay Aravind in 2013. It is ironic that in the British days we had an elected civic body, while now we don’t have one.
All conversations among citizens now begin with a set of terse, predictable questions: