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Vol. XXV No. 22, March 1-15, 2016

Archives: Vol. XXV No. 22, March 1-15, 2016


Freeby culture we can do without

by The Editor

The revenue deficit for Tamil Nadu, presented as part of the interim budget early in February, is alarming to say the least. The Government has revealed that its expenditure exceeds its income by over Rs. 9,000 crore. While this as a figure is bad enough, what makes it worse are two attitudinal issues – the first is that ­welfare measures cannot be reined in and second that other States in the country fare far worse than us in revenue ­management. These are not ­indicators of a bright future for our State – often touted as a model in administration.

This is the third consecutive year that Tamil Nadu has not been able to adhere to the fiscal responsibility norm of zero revenue deficit. Any small business will tell you the elementary rules of financial discipline – you cannot be making cash losses. But that is what we are doing right now and with no tiny or manageable figures. The deficit has been attributed to two factors – fall in revenue, owing to decreased petroleum prices, and a sharp increase in ‘welfare measures’. The latter is nothing but a euphemism for freebies. These have, sadly, ­become integral features of ­governance, no matter which Party is in power in our State. This was not the case till a cou­ple of decades ago.

Tamil Nadu is no stranger to welfare schemes and many of these were much needed. The State has been the pioneer in several measures that have gone a long way in improving the standard of living. These include steps taken in the fields of education, healthcare, housing and women’s welfare. In many of these, we were far ahead of other States of India and when it came to the noon meal scheme, we were ahead of many countries in the world. None can therefore deny the merits in these. It must also be pointed out that all of these helped in transforming lives at a fundamental level – they were truly agents of social uplift.

What has since happened reeks of populism. We do not wish to comment on free goats and cows, as there are sections of society where these would qualify as valued capital. The same goes for financial assistance for weddings, pernicious though the practice is of even the weakest sections of society wanting to spend hard earned money on lavish ceremonies. But does everyone really need a television set, a mixer, a grinder and a laptop? These are all items that people ought to aspire to buy. Does it become the State Government’s responsibility to ensure that every household has all of these? What motivation then exists for people to work hard, earn a living and then strive to improve their living conditions? And, if these are to be given free, will the recipients cherish and value these gifts? It is common sense that what is received gratis rarely has any importance ­attached to it.


If Mysore can, why not Madras?

(By A Special ­Correspondent)

The results are in and the Government’s Swacch Sur­vek­­shan – a survey of 73 ­cities of India – confirms what last year’s private study found: Mysore is India’s cleanest city. Chennai is nowhere in the top ten, though it must be some consolation that it is not in the bottom ten either. Ranking 37, our city has shown that its cleanliness record is at best ­middling. That is not bad, but it certainly is not good when you consider that we have ­always claimed we are a world-class metropolis, or almost there.

The survey, conducted by 25 teams, visited 46 locations in each city and these included ­religious places, railway and bus stations, markets and toilet complexes. The availability of dustbins was also marked. One of the chief criteria was the way each town managed its solid waste. Over 100,000 residents were quizzed on whether they were aware of what their civic body was doing to promote cleanliness. In all of this, Mysore came out tops, followed by Chandigarh and Tiruchirap­palli. And before we take solace in the excuse that all of these are tier 2 towns not facing the problems of the larger metros, let us also mention that New Delhi came 4th and Greater Mumbai stood 10th. That gives us much food for thought, does it not?


Know your Fort better

by Sriram V.

portuguese-squarePortuguese Square, now Namakkal Kavignar Maligai in the background.

Historically, we can trace at least four ‘squares’ in the layout of Fort St George. The Fort Square was perhaps the oldest, its boundaries being those of the first Fort House built when Madras was begun. Today this is occupied by the Assembly and Secretariat building. Parade or Barracks Square we have already seen and it continues to exist. Fronting the Arsenal was Hanover Square and in the late 1700s it was taken over for the construction of several barracks. Portuguese Square was the fourth and it spanned the area on which the multi-storey Namakkal Kavignar Maligai was ­constructed in the 1980s. This building houses the offices of many Government departments today.


No chequebook charity for him

by Rasheeda Bhagat


This vaccination warrior from one of the oldest Rotary Clubs in India – RC Madras – has been in the forefront of colossal work done for immunising children against measles and polio.


There are still eri-s around

by Sudha Umashanker

 The lakes of Madras – 2

When a fishing village like Madras grew rapidly and transformed into a bustling, crowded metropolis the demand for land naturally increased ­exponentially. In time, lakes, lake beds and flood plains were reclaimed and that has conti­nued till date. The folly of such an approach came back to haunt us in the year of The Flood.