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Vol. XXV No. 20, February 1-15, 2016

Our readers write

Disfiguring Chennai

Our politicians, film people, and magazine folks will never let Chennai turn into even a third class Singapore. Politicians with their banners, and posters, and eulogies, disfigure the city walls, with impurity. I have not seen this kind of wall disfiguration anywhere in India.

The politicians, however never forget to promise on make Chennai the most beautiful metropolis. They are promises waiting to be kept. Though Tamils claim a great cultural heritage and tradition, aesthetics so far as keeping our cities clean and neat is concerned does not find a place in their agenda.

I am appalled that even Carnatic Music has been added to the list of those who believe in disfiguring walls. Things are getting only worse every day. God save Chennai.

T. Santhanam

The SRR I knew

Having had a life-long fascination with libraries, I found the articles on Dr. S.R. Ranganathan (MM, January 1st and 16th), inspiring me to recall a few meetings I had with Dr SRR.

It is my good fortune that I could meet Dr SRR on many ­occasions in the late 1960s in Bangalore where I was working with the postal department.

What triggered my urge to get to know him was a small piece of writing that appeared in Kalki, the well-known Tamil weekly, around 1965 about Dr S.R. Ranganathan’s unique contribution to library science. He was National Research Professor of Library ­Science at the time and had established the Documentation ­Research and Training Centre in Bangalore. There he chaired a number of weekly colloquia or large academic seminars. My ­residence was just a kilometer away from DRTC. Hence it was an easy ten-minute walk for me.

One Wednesday evening I walked into DRTC and found Dr. SRR and about twenty librarians drawn from various parts of the city assembled there. While they were actively discussing a topic I remained silent, as the subject was not familiar to me. Dr SRR’s voice was mellifluous and his language was free from jargon. While leaving the hall I smiled at him and he reciprocated. I attended six or seven such seminars in DRTC.

Sometime in 1971 I went to Dr SRR’s house with my friend S. Balasundararaman, accountant in Head Record Office of Railway Mail Service. A warm welcome was accorded to us by Dr SRR After exchanging a few pleasantries we invited him to address our friends in Central Services in Bangalore on the important role libraries played in the development of education (as we had already heard giants from Karnataka on different subjects of social relevance). He expressed his inability to do so owing to his failing health. However, he added that he would like to meet our friends and be with them for some time after becoming well again. His wife Sarada was beside him and nodded her head in agreement. Alas, ill luck prevented us from hearing him forever. He breathed his last in 1972.

Dr. S.R.Ranganathan is known for his Five Laws (1931) relating to the library and Colon Classification for information retrieval. These are works par excellence. In the library movement there were twelve ‘wise men’ in the world. They belonged to four different nationalities. Dr SRR is the only Indian among them. His output was tremendous. It includes sixty books and 2000 articles. A votary of scientific methodology, this mathematician-turned librarian will be remembered forever.

R. Soundararajan
1/46, Sivasakti Nagar, Nagapattinam 611003

An appeal from an Old Queen Marian

Dear friends and lovers of heritage,
The term “use and abuse” first captured my attention at a workshop on drug abuse!
This made me realise the huge difference in these words in that context.

When I see how the QMC campus continues to be neglected but consistently used for their convenience by the supposed “caretakers” of this college, I feel this is as serious an abuse as the other.

1. This Goverment-run college is grossly ­overloaded, 7000 students trying to use the infrastructure meant for possibly 2000. Too many courses, quantity taking over quality.

2. Water problems, lack of toilets, classrooms, lecturers, books, you name it.

3. Over 100-year-old heritage buildings ­continue to crumble, while the Education Dept. and PWD quietly lock up each room/block as it is declared unsafe (by whom?).

Already the Physics and Chemistry labs, parts of Pentland and Stone Blocks, are sealed.

4. Beach House and Sankaraiyer building which are more than 100 years old were ­declared out of bounds and allowed to ­decay, BUT continue to be misused by ­Police personnel who park their vehicles inside QMC campus on a daily basis and probably disappear into these structures to change/relieve themselves. It reeks like a urinal all the time.

5. Come Republic Day, the southeast corner of the QMC grounds, closest to the Gandhi statue, becomes some VIP stand or Press gallery, with shamiana poles used to build galleries inside the QMC grounds. Workmen, supervisory officials etc use the grounds and, of course, the two ancient buildings as toilets.

6. Come Election time, QMC is counting centre – and all sorts of political party affiliated population plus election officials invade the grounds, use the Golden jubilee hall for counting (casuarina poles make the hall into a chequered barricaded one, never mind the flooring, walls etc.).

7. All this while the users do not pay a single paise towards this take over! Nor did the Railways pay for usurping of land for the MRTS station – behind QMC, which is called “Lighthouse” rather than after the college they robbed the land from!

8. As for heritage – never mind that the hallowed assembly hall (disfigured by a false ceiling, which has sprung leaks) is showing termite infestation. The wood lined “General” library is also termite infested from the ceiling. There are priceless books still inside old wooden cupboards, but they may crumble on touch (anyone heard of digitalising and documentation?).

9. The marble bust of Queen Mary, a symbol of all the “queens” who passed through this venerable college, is grey with grime, covered with ball point pen signatures of idiotic students who scribble their name on it. This was done by S. Nagappa (senior) the renowned sculptor and artist whose other works are venerated in other parts of the city. This was commissioned by the Raja of Panagal, the then CM?
(I know how much my designer had to work on each of these photographs in the centenary publication – to hide the flaws!)

10. The alumna association collects money to save something… and this has to be shelled out to pay extra to assistants and service staff – who ought to be hired by the state Govt.! Plus of course the current govt. in power will not give permission for any improvement work or maintenance – to be done by the old students.

If we don’t do something now, pre election, I doubt if there will be any QMC left to save.

Who is responsible for all this?
The caretakers of this college. The elected party in power. The Director of Education, PWD and whichever organisation who is responsible to protect heritage… It is no use blaming the Principal or staff.
We the public are also guilty due to passive acceptance.

I have stepped out of all committees.

Am free to sign any petition to draw attention to these problems. Please feel free to publish this appeal in any source you feel like, just keep me informed.

Nithya Balaji
Former student,

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