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Vol. XXXIII No. 23, March 16-31, 2024

Archives: Vol. XXXIII No. 23, March 16-31, 2024


It is election time – guard your compound walls

-- by Sriram V.

By the time this issue reaches the readers, the dates of the general election to the 18th Lok Sabha will most likely have been announced. Which means the model code of conduct would have kicked in. Which in turn means compound walls of private and public properties cannot be defaced by poll graffiti and posters. That at least is so on paper. Ground reality of course is completely different. It is amazing that Chennai which is often prefixed by the word Singara by political dispensations is in reality treated very differently.

Chances are that your walls have already seen the worst. For realising that the model code is a deterrent of sorts (only if the affected party complains by the way), the slug fest in terms of posters happens just as talk of elections gather momentum, reaches a peak before the announcement of dates and declines to an extent during the actual campaigning process. In this the peak coincides with the phase when political leaders, those in power that is, embark on a foundation stone laying and inaugural plaque unveiling spree while those in Opposition vent their spleen at such goings on knowing fully well that they would do the same thing when in power.

But to get back to the posters and graffiti. As always, there is a law that protects private property owners from such defacement. “No Political Party or candidate shall permit its or his followers to make use of any individual’s land, building, compound wall etc., without his permission , for erecting flag-staffs,


‘Chennai needs more buses’: OMI Foundation’s ‘Ease of Moving Index’

-- by Varsha V.

With Mobility a key item on the administration’s docket, the city’s local bodies are conducting a large-scale study to understand how the people of Chennai move. The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) together with other local bodies such as the Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (CUMTA) is conducting


Heritage Watch: High Court notices that Heritage Act is yet to be acted upon

The High Court of Madras, late in February took note of and expressed its distress over the TN Government not bringing into force its Heritage Act of 2012. Twelve years in cold storage is not exactly a long period of time when it comes to government functioning. After all did not Florence Nightingale remark that ‘At once’ in Madras was measured in ‘periods of Indian cosmogony’? That was in connection with drainage work in the city and we guess heritage ranks roughly the same in terms of priority. But the sad fact remains – we have a Heritage Act, but it is not yet in force. And that means our heritage structures remain at the mercy of their owners. They stand no protection under law.


The Mints of Madras – Part I

-- by Sriram V

Any person with passing interest in the city’s history will tell you that Mint Street is so named because the Madras Mint was once located on it. And they will also add most helpfully that it is known as Thangasalai Theru in Tamil because gold was melted at the mint for striking coins. Well, they would be correct as far as the English name went but the Tamil explanation could not be more wrong. Tankashala is the Sanskrit term for mint – the root being Tanka which means a stamped coin. And so, Tankashala Theru must be the correct name of our Mint Street. But then it is a Sanskrit word and oh well…etc etc.

Not many may be aware that the facility that once stood at the


R. Desikan: the spirit and cheer of Max Mueller Bhavan (Madras) between 1964 and 1992

-- by Anantanarayanan Raman,

To promote a dynamic cross-cultural relationship between India and Germany, the Max Mueller Bhavan (MMB, Goethe-Institut) came into existence in the later years of the 1950s, celebrating the life and works of Friedrich Max Mueller (1823–1900), an eminent Indologist, philologist, and philosopher. Concurrently with the start of MMB-s in New Delhi, Bombay, Poona, Calcutta, and Bangalore, an MMB in Madras (Chennai presently; MMB–M) was established by Bertram Werwie on 20 August 1960. From that moment, the MMB–M has remained a vibrant centre

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