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Vol. XXX No. 10, September 16-30, 2020

Our Readers Write

Barricading Houses

Your view on Barricading Houses is very sensible. Such a tactic truly belongs to the middle ages. Hope the concerned authorities learn from the Bangalore example.

Salim Khakhi

Open book examination

I agree with the suggestion of N.S. Venkataraman (MM: Sep. 1st, 2020) to try Open Book Examination, as recommended by the late Sir CP. In fact, it is practised in the Departmental examinations of some State Governments, which I too had an occasion to write.

There is yet another type of examination – purely oral and some professors may combine it with a written paper prepared at home. This was the practice in the University of Brussels where I specialised in EU matters and obtained a post-graduate degree. There were about twenty subjects apart from a thesis. I honestly thought that the oral examinations would be easy. But I found it difficult because in a written examination, one could glide over some difficult problems and the benefit of doubt is given to the candidate, whereas in an oral examination, the professor stops you and questions you bringing out your ignorance!

In all this, everything depends upon honesty.

Since this is a rare commodity, the UPSC changes the number so that the examiner does not know the candidate whose paper he is correcting.

I was told by a highly respected English professor that a highly respected Vice-Chancellor used to call another highly respected English professor to his office to replace the answer-books of some influential examinees! So there are exams and exams!

Dr. G. Sundaram, IAS (R)
A601, Dugar Apartments
Keshava Perumal Puram
Greenways Road
Chennai 600 028

Apropos the article of N.S. Venkatraman on the above subject, I would like to add that I was also a student of Annamalai University from 1965 to 1967. Dr. Sir C.P. was the Vice-Chancellor who used to encourage Open Book Examination System. Encouraged by this, Dr. Rajagopalan, Reader of Geology Department used to give us question papers and leave the classroom during internal exams and used to come back to collect answer sheets. Though students can refer the book for the answers, questions will be such, you could not copy from the books but had to be thorough with the subjects to answer the questions. This was the system encouraged by Sir C.P.

To add here, as second year students of M.Sc Geology, we went to invite Sir C.P. for his 80th Birthday which he politely declined saying: “I thought I am 80 years young and do not make me feel I am 80 years old.”

Al. Chandramouli
Retired General Manager, IOB
Ahuja Regency
No 1, Temple Street, Kilpauk
Chennai 600010

I read with interest the account of N.S. Venkataraman on Sir CP’s views on examinations. Long back, I came across a book titled Examination of Examinations. The author concludes that examination is an evil, but a necessary evil. Several Education Commissions have recommended reform of examination system, but with little effect.

Now the new trend is to have an entrance test for a course or job. The system has led to proliferation of commercially operating coaching centers. In Newcastle, I came across a letter from the Vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds to the science teacher of a high school thanking him for giving the university a bright gem. The teacher had recommended one of his students for admission into the medical course. The student flunked in the interview. The teacher found that the student had lost his father on the morning of the interview and informed the university which gave another opportunity to the student. The result was the letter of thanks. Can we ever dream of such a thing?

T.30, Kamarajar Street Chennai 600093

My Story/My T. Nagar

Editor’s Note: The Police has recently asked residents to record on audio/video/paper the issues they face in their localities. This document reflects what most colonies in the city face

It will be foolhardy to visualize a T Nagar of yore now. For, those were days when life was at its slow pace without much of traffic, business activities, population, pollution of any kind, or high-rise buildings. There were only independent single contiguous houses. Therefore, a long-time resident of T Nagar can at best only live now in despair and rejoice thinking of the good old days.

Today, T Nagar has undergone a sea change. While no one cribs about the developments taking place in this predominantly residential area even today, as they are but necessary, it has in its wake wrought havoc, which the long-time residents abhor. Though many outsiders may feel that those living in T Nagar are blessed ones as they can get anything at any time, just as it is said that only the wearer of the shoe knows where it pinches, the residents alone can feel the disadvantages and mayhem caused by such mindless developments. The following are a few which needs mention:

  • Encroachments of the highest order.
  • Multi-storeyed commercial buildings built in violation of rules, and, without any kind of fire safety norms.
  • An unsolicited precious gift from the Chennai Corporation – The elevated road level, arising out of relaying of the road over and above the surface, without milling, exposing the decades-old residential apartments, whose floor level at the time of construction was about three-to four-feet above the road level, to floods.
  • The dysfunctional stormwater drains which add to the miseries of the residents.
  • Streets/Roads turning into parking bay for the shoppers’ vehicles.
  • Though the residents are the prime stakeholders of T Nagar by virtue of their stay, they are not consulted whenever any project is taken up.
  • Footpaths which are meant for the pedestrians are nowhere to be seen as they are hijacked/encroached upon by the vendors/hawkers forcing the public to walk on the road.
  • The high-level encroachment both by the vendors/hawkers and the commercial establishments on Ranganathan Street has forced the authorities to build a sky-walk at a whopping cost of Rs.32 crores least realising that the street could be recovered by removing the encroachments at no cost whatsoever. While one has to wait and watch as to whether the said sky-walk will become another Ranganathan Street over a period of time, the going ahead with the sky-walk only indicates the resolve of the authorities not to meddle with the present status quo ante at Ranganathan Street.
  • Ranganathan Street, which unruly crowds besiege on all days and specially on holidays and festival days, is a ticking time bomb as none of the shops has fire safety mechanisms. In case of any untoward incidents taking place, it will be disastrous, as, with the encroachments, it will be next to impossible to escape. It will be impossible for the fire tenders or ambulances to make way into the street. In any case, the street needs to be rid of encroachment at least to provide safety and security to the shoppers and others working in the various shops/establishments.
  • Encroachment by the commercial establishments – Thanks to Corporation turning a blind eye, encroachment by these entities has been on the rise. As a result, the pubic space is getting narrowed, impeding the traffic.
  • Since the residential complexes are sandwiched between the commercial complexes, in case of any fire accidents taking place, precious lives of the residents are in grave danger. Following the fire in a textile showroom on Usman Road sometime ago, the residents of the close-by streets were told by the authorities to stay away. That the residents had to abandon their homes and had to fend for themselves, with no agency or the complex owner coming forward to their aid, needs mention.
  • The commercial complex owners have been on a mission to acquire flats in the residential apartments in an effort to eject the residents out of T Nagar. Once they acquire a residential building, they get the same certified as commercial. The role of the CMDA in this regard is noteworthy. Once the area becomes commercial, it will be of advantage to the purchaser in many ways. Though the CMDA states that it goes through the due process, in the absence of any dissemination of the information about the change in the land use, even the residents living nearby come to know only after everything is over.
  • Under the Smart City Mission, the authorities are carrying out work. It remains to be seen whether these will indeed make T Nagar really ‘smart’. For, T Nagar has become now a role model for all the wrong things and how a city should not be.
  • While service lanes are usually made available for public transport system, the ones on Usman Road, where the encroachment is at its worst, are unfit even for a stroll. On the western end service lane of Usman Road, a Government Girls High School is located. Though the said school is creating records by producing cent per cent results year after year, the surprise is that it is functioning with a strength which is far less than its capacity. The reason for such a poor patronage is that the parents are afraid of admitting their wards into a school which is surrounded by encroachment. The school sought the help of this Association, after having exhausted all avenues through its sources. Though this Association had chipped in with its best by way of escalating the issue to the higher authorities and also through the Press, nothing much could be done. It will not be a surprise, if the authorities decide to shut the school due to poor patronage least realising the real cause.
  • In the month of February 2020, all of a sudden, two ration shops hitherto functioning from a premises owned and operated by the TUCS off Rameswaram Road, were shifted, without any notice to the cardholders, to a building located on Mambalam High Road. This new building violates rules and has been constructed on the foot path. While at the old building, as it was far away from the main road, the cardholders have had no problem, at the new premises, they have to bear the sun and shine and also stand on the road, risking their lives and limbs, as it witnesses heavy traffic.
  • Almost all streets have become parking bays for all those who visit T Nagar. Since the commercial complexes do not have space to park vehicles of their customers, the shoppers turn to the nearby residential streets and park their vehicles. This severely restricts the movement of the residents. The senior citizens find it difficult to go for a walk in their streets for fear of safety and security as vehicles whizz past.

If at all the residents, braving all these imponderables stay put, it is because of moorings to the place. While it is said that what cannot be cured has to be endured, here though there is a cure, the authorities do not want to try at all. This is nothing but an abdication of responsibility by the law enforcing authorities.

We must emphasize that “The Residents’ Right to Live Cannot be Denied”.

T Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association
30, Rangan Street, T. Nagar, Chennai 600 017

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  1. R.Vaidyanathan says:

    Absolutely true and comprehensive! Wav! Hit the nail on its head! Sharp and irrefutable! Sensitive authorities are conspicuous by their absence! As against rule of law, it is now ‘rule of money’! For decades, the voice is unheard and choked! Residents have reconciled to their fate!
    Even judicial orders are neglected without any punishment! God save T.Nagar!

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