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Vol. XXVI No. 04, June 1-15, 2016

Archives: Vol. XXVI No. 04, June 1-15, 2016


Prohibition… slowly… slowly…

by The Editor

It depends on which way you look at it, but there is cheer all around. The prohibitionists are happy that the State has finally begun a phased dismantling of its liquor vending outlets. Those who are against it are happy at the slow pace in which this is likely to happen. Much will depend on how earnest the State Government will be in the coming years to swing one way or the other.

The newly elected party began implementing from its first day in office its poll promise of bringing prohibition to Tamil Nadu in a gradual manner. It ordered the closure of 500 out of 8,500 liquor outlets run by the Government controlled Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation aka TASMAC. In reality, no Government would really want to do away with the system that has been in place since 1983, bringing in as it does much needed revenue to the State, though at a cost to public health. But it reflects on the way electoral mathematics forces the hands of parties and also on the way political thinking has changed on the way the Governments need to be run.

Tamil Nadu was dry for a long time, till when in the early 1970s prohibition was lifted on the grounds that this was anyway not national policy and was resulting in loss of revenue for the State while neighbouring ones happily filled their coffers. It was brought back in 1974, only to go away in 1981. Thereafter there were attempts at controlling arrack and toddy sales, but not branded alcohol. In 1983, the Government entered the liquor retailing business by establishing TASMAC, which controlled the procurement and also sale of alcohol via licensed outlets. Retailing was, however, not a Government monopoly till 2002 when TASMAC assumed absolute control over the sale of liquor in the State.

Matters would have gone on the same way had not prohibition become a powerful electoral promise made by what was otherwise a caste-based minority political party. This was the same outfit that had while its representative enjoyed a brief stint in the Central Government successfully piloted legislation for increasingly visible warnings on the dangers of smoking. The larger political parties of Tamil Nadu were apprehensive that this could result in a vote swing and soon made it part of their manifesto. It was rather ironic that the very same entities that had lifted prohibition and later made the State a player in liquor sales in the name of revenue should now argue for it in the name of public health, morale, domestic happiness and women’s welfare. While most parties promised outright prohibition if elected to power, the one that finally won had consistently advocated a phased implementation and that is what it is going about now.


Volunteers wanted

madras-literaryGetting ready to arrange the books on the stacks at the Madras Literary Society.

The Reorganisation and Re-classification project at The Madras Literary Society got underway on April 30th. We had good participation from members of this group and well-wishers from this group. Renganathan, a book conservation expert, and Tripurasundari gave a brief but interesting demonstration on how books are to be restored and cared for. Books were then taken down from one of the upper shelves, dusted, segregated for restoration and then classified using the Dewey system. You can see some of the pictures and a brief update on the MLS Facebook page: 039945/?fref=ts. Please do follow the FB page to keep track of latest updates, upcoming events and project status.


The metro is still crawling along

What exactly is happening on the Chennai Metro Rail project? The last major event was the much-delayed inauguration of the portion that runs between Koyambedu and Alandur. That was in June 2015. Since then, Chennai Metro Rail has not been much in the news, save for periodic announcements of some minor changes in routing, some tests being conducted and, of course, plenty of complaints on traffic hold-ups because of the work taking forever. Is it going the same way as the Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) that began in the 1980s and has since then been always ‘under construction’?

There is, of course, plenty of activity that may not be deemed newsworthy. Thus, in recent days, we have heard of major advancements in the metro project wherein by some rerouting a direct line is being planned from Koyambedu to the airport instead of a changeover for commuters at Alandur.This it is estimated will cut planned travel time by half.


Kanchipuram visited – the concluding part Visiting Vishnu Kanchi

by Prema Nandakumar

Visiting Vishnu Kanchi

parameswara-vinnakramParameswara Vinnakram, Photo: Sridhar Selvaraj, courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

The foremost temple of Vishnu Kanchi (also known as Chinna Kanchipuram) is that of Varadaraja located in the eastern side of the city. The temple is more than a millennium old.


Crowds birthed our Zoo

by Shobha Menon

The Zoo Story… Part I

April 20, 1963… an article in The Weekly Mail, reports,

the-entrance-to-the-zooThe entrance to the Zoo at People’s Park.

‘Out of the night, piercing the silence of the city it comes twice in succession – the deep throated roar of the lion, dwarfing the shrill love announcement of its country cousin, the cat roaming the roof tops…

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