Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXVIII No. 19, January 16-31, 2019

Our Readers write

No thanks, Government

I do not agree with your contention that the Government of Tamil Nadu is “indifferent “to the largest Music Festival in the world.(MM, January 1st).When former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa inaugurated the Festival as CM in 2012 (at which I was present), she generously offered to assist this largest festival in the world in whatever way required and the details could be prepared. But I wrote in a leading music journal advising the organisers NOT to accept government assistance with all its consequent problems and also the fact that the present private initiatives were working exceedingly well.This holds good even today.

Similarly, it is not advisable to tag this to the Global Investors Summit where the objective is different and the audience is also different. It is advisable to tag Tourism promotion with the Investors Summit because Tourism is an industry and infrastructure has to be created. I gave a similar suggestion to the Government of Gujarat which was accepted, and Gujarat is now doing exceedingly well in tourism.Of course, tourism could be promoted during the Music Festival by sponsoring and stalls in places like the Music Academy, as some Universities are also doing!

Dr G. Sundaram, ias (rtd)
A-601, Dugar Apartments
Keshav Perumal Puram
Greenways Road
Chennai 600 028

Paying for it

Rtn. Venkateswaran of RC Madras South, who has completed 50 years in Rotary, has his memory jugged by R.V. Rajan’s ‘Free-Loading’ (MM, December 16th).

For long, our weekly meetings used to be on Fridays in the evening. The initial few meetings, including the organisational meet, were at the Guindy Industrial Estate canteen first floor. The venue then shifted to Hotel Oceanic, the second five-star hotel to come up in Madras.

The meetings used to be invariably on their sprawling lawns, except when it rained. During rains, and on special occasions (dinner meetings), the venue used to be their conference hall. Being close to the sea, there was always a sea breeze, but at times there was a foul smell coming from the backwaters, not to mention the mosquito problem.

Every member, including visitors, paid Rs.2 upfront towards tea, which consisted of a sweet, a snack or two, with coffee or tea. For the same Rs.2, West club used to enjoy a sweet, a crisp masala dosai and coffee /tea at Hotel Ashoka.

Invariably our members used to make up their attendance on Thursday evenings at West club or on Wednesdays when North club met at the same venue.

When we shifted our venue to Savera in the early 1970’s – it had just then opened – the charges were Rs.3. Both at Hotel Oceanic and at Hotel Savera, our club used attract a number of visiting Rotarians from the city as well as mofussil. On an average there used to be 20-25 visiting Rotarians and at times they out numbered home club members. We even used to honour the 1000th visitor with a memento every year.

Leading personalities like industrialist Rtn.S.P. Godrej, former cricketer Rtn. Vijay Merchant, Coimbatore based industrialist Rtn. G.D. Naidu, to mention a few, attended our meetings more than once. Rtn. G.D. Naidu was known for his eccentricities. In spite of the fact that he had his own share of controversies, there is no denying the fact that he was a genius and an innovator. He had only a formal school education and had not attended any university. But he had to his credit several industries manufacturing engineering goods/radios/watches and so on. He was a great nationalist, laying emphasis on “make in India” and would have ideally fitted in with the present day industrial policy. At the same time, his eccentricities knew no bounds.

Once, as a school-goer, I had visited his stall at a trade fair in Madras, displaying his products which included watches, timepieces, radios etc. On the last day of the exhibition, he spread them on a table and, in public view, broke them to pieces using a hammer. He was also running a polytechnic in Coimbotore where the weights of the students admitted to the Hostel would be recorded as also that of the cooks. At the end of the year, if there has been a loss in the students’ weight or increase in the weight of the cooks, then the cooks were given marching orders.

He founded and carried out agricultural research at his large estate inside Coimbatore town. Once, when he visited our club he brought with him a basketful of ripe papaya and asked the hotel staff to peel the outer skin and had the fruit neatly sliced. He then offered the fruit to everybody present. Many had extra helpings, since his offering was plentiful and were really delicious.

When everything was over, at the meeting, he called for members’ comments on the fruit and everyone observed it was excellent. Then he went on to explain that this variety has been developed specially by grafting and that he was using only organic manure in his farm with no use of pesticides. Finally he dropped a bombshell, saying that he used human excreta for its rich growth. Needless to say those present felt something churning in their stomachs and with great difficulty controlled their sick sensations. I am sure they would have emptied their stomachs on getting back home.

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