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Vol. XXIX No. 23, March 16-31 2020

Archives: Vol. XXIX No. 23, March 16-31 2020


Can Chennai Handle a Pandemic?

by The Editor

As on March 8, 2020, the World Health Organisation has confirmed that the number of those afflicted with COVID-19 has exceeded 100,000 worldwide. Over 4,000 people have died, while a more cheering and not-often quoted statistic is that 64,000 people have actually survived it. In India, the numbers are small – just around 60 or so infected, while in Chennai it remains reassuringly in single digits. It is claimed that warm or hot weather, something that we are blessed with, inhibits the spread of the virus. Chennai may therefore not be vulnerable. But this is still a good opportunity to reflect on whether we are capable as a city to handle such pandemics.

The WHO communique reminded “all countries and communities that the spread of this virus can be significantly slowed or even reversed through the implementation of robust containment and control activities.

China and other countries are demonstrating that the spread of the virus can be slowed and impact reduced through the use of universally applicable actions, such as working across society to identify people who are sick, bringing them to care, following up on contacts, preparing hospitals and clinics to manage a surge in patients, and training health workers.”

Are we doing this? Thus far Chennai has kept a tight watch on the airport – most cases have been identified here. The immigration has a not-very-impressive arrangement with a couple of people keenly watching those coming in. This may not be effective. The body scanners that read temperature are what is needed – this eliminates all human intervention. Such gadgets are not new and have been around in airports overseas for years.

The airport is managing to the extent it can and hospitals and health centres have been instructed to report all ­suspicious cases for further ­investigation. That is to the good. But what about railway stations and bus terminals? There is no monitoring of any kind there. While COVID-19 may not warrant such ­precautions at least right now, can such entrepots become screening points in case such a situation is warranted in future? It boggles the mind to even contemplate people being screened at suburban railway stations, leave alone Central and Egmore but that is what will be demanded in case there is a pandemic.


Role Re-definition Can Give Farmer, Producer Organisations New Life

by A Special Correspondent

The Tamil Nadu Government has decided to offer ‘concessions and incentives’ to Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to empower small and marginal farmers and spur farm growth. It is worth examining whether this would result in any major impact and whether concessions are the answer to activate FPOs.

FPOs are aimed at supporting small producers who do not individually have the volume or ability to derive the full benefit of their output. FPOs can be registered as Companies (FPCs) under the Companies Act or as Cooperatives under the Cooperative Act. One major advantage of the former option is that it is free of bureaucratic control.


Arupathu Moovar – 110 years ago

by Karthik Bhatt

Page 5_1Sambandar resurrecting Poompavai, as seen in a frieze atop the Kapali temple gopuram.

The annual Brahmotsavam of the Kapaleeswarar temple is just around the corner. The festival has had a long and at times, colourful past; it had been celebrated with funds provided by the Collector of Madras in the early 19th Century and the flag of St. George was ordered to be placed atop the canopies surrounding the temple in order to resolve a dispute between the left hand and right hand castes.


Remembering Swadesamitran

by N.S. Parthasarathy

(Continued from last fortnight)

Page 6_1C.R. Srinivasan (centre) with Devdas Gandhi of Hindustan Times (2nd from left) and others.

C.R Srinivasan installed the latest rotary press that could turn out thousands of copies in a couple of hours or so, all fresh and crisp, neatly folded and ready for the reader.


J.S. Prabhu – An Institution Builder and Patron of Arts

by Ashwin Bhandarkar

Page 7_1Mr. and Mrs. J.S. Prabhu

Janardhan Srinivas Prabhu, or J.S.Prabhu as he was more commonly known, had a stellar career at EID Parry but alongside, he played a very important role in the promotion of Hindustani Music in Chennai, and in propelling the growth of the SGS Sabha, a well-known social organization in the city.