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Vol. XXXIV No. 6, July 1-15, 2024

Our Readers Write

Another Monstrosity – Nip it in the bud

It is inconceivable even to imagine that the powers that be even are contemplating another monstrosity in the heart of Madras near Central Station (MM, June 16, 2024).

A 27-storeyed structure in the heart of the city amidst with many architectural landmarks. Plenty of blue glass plates etc (are we in Manhattan?) preventing natural flow of sea breeze, without any open windows! On the one hand, we are crying hoarse blaming climate change and global warming and at the same time adding to global warmingby installing thousands of tons capacity of air conditioning. We can imagine how much hot air will be blown from these, the single most source of warming is the a/c hot air.

Moreover how many hundreds of trees will be cut, how many hillocks will be plundered, from where we will get sand? In order to prevent future calamities like flooding in the city, stagnant sewage water must be prevented and for free flow of rain water to the water bodies the first priority should be to stop adding further concrete jungles. Already the city has a very high proportion of concrete in its composition. 

Let us hope the powers that be drop this ill-conceived monstrosity altogether

N.P. Andavan

Alternate for bouquets

Should we start the practice of giving vegetables instead of flower bouquet on birthdays or other functions? Because the recipients often leave the bouquets behind. Vegetables, on the other hand, can be consumed. Instead of a rose, you can also give an inexpensive seasonal fruit, such as guava, raw mango, lemon, amla, sapota, etc. The size of the basket can be trimmed according to one’s budget. Instead of wrapping the basket with plastic, we can use cotton cloth, which can also be used later. If vegetables are too expensive, we can limit with just one or two. This change will also mark our gratitude and will help improve the economic status of our farmers.

Adopting our indigenous culture is always better than aping the Western customs. This kind of small changes will definitely bring about a revolution in our society.

V.S. Jayaraman 
31, Motilal Street 
Chennai 600 017 

Rt Hon’ble V.S. Srinivasa Sastri

The article on V.S. Srinivasa Sastri in your magazine ((MM, June 1, 2024)) brought back few more incidents of the esteemed Srinivasa Sastri.

During his college days at Kumbakonam, there was a strange incident when he went to class without a shirt as he had got fully drenched in a sudden downpour on the way. When he was fined eight annas for being “without shirt”,young Srinivasan with tears in his eyes told principal Bilderbeck,”If I had eight annas I would have bought a new shirt and come”. Touched by his words, the principal himself paid the fine and bought him a new shirt.

Forty years later, Sastri, on a visit to London, met his old teacher and Principal in his country home. Bilderbeck threw a party for him and proudly told his assembled friends that his student was now a Privy Councillor. When Sastri’s turn came to speak, he took a box he was keeping with him and opened it. He took out the shirt which was presented by Bilderbeck and showed it to all the guests to their great amazement. Such were those great men!!!

Srinivasa Sastri was also the Headmaster of The Hindu High School, Triplicane, my alma mater. He also established TUCS (Triplicane Urban Cooperative Society), a pioneer in the cooperative movement then.The above episode was informed by the Alumni Association of the school about two years back.

Gp Capt J.R. Arunachalam VSM (Retd)
62, Jal Vayu Vihar
Madambakkam, Chennai 600 126

Write-up on Harischandra & Galava Maharishi

I read the write-up on Harischandra & Galava Maharishi (MM, May 1, 2024) with great difficulty due to my age and glasses (my glasses are due for change). I could appreciate the task that has been taken for the immense care to provide the many references. Kudos to the writer.

Chinnaswamy V

A remarkable (spider)woman of Madras

Reading Ambika Chandrasekar’s ‘Viji, the turtle girl …’ (MM, June 1st, 2024) reminded me of another Viji (K. Vijayalakshmi) of Madras, who is doing yeoman service validating traditional Indian-knowledge systems.

After her bachelor’s degree from Stella Maris College, her Master’s from the University of Delhi in Zoology, she completed her doctorate at the University of Madras, working on the predatory behaviour of spiders, as relevant to biological management in Madras Loyola College, when I was teaching there. And that’s how I got to know the creative and original thinking of Viji.

Soon after, she published a handsomely produced, colourfully illustrated slim book on the spiders of Madras, co-writing it with another the wildlife enthusiast of Madras, Preston Ahimaz, published by Cre-A, Madras. I remember this book well because I launched this book decades ago in the World-Wide-Fund for Nature office then located in Nandanam, since the original chief guest Theodore Bhaskaran could not make to the event at the last minute.

The narration about Viji will be incomplete if I don’t talk of her life partner – the man behind her – A.V. Balasubramanian (‘AVB’ to many, but ‘Balu’ to me), supporting her to achieve what she has remarkably achieved working silently in Madras. Since 1985, Viji and Balu enthusiastically have worked on validating various aspects of indigenous agriculture and made efforts to connect them to current-day practices.

Contributions of Viji–Balu duo to India’s rural development are remarkable. Viji was a member of the International TASK force of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM), which was involved in the revision of principles of organic agriculture. She led several projects relating to traditional agriculture and published close to 80 research articles.

Currently, Viji directs the Sempulam Sustainable Solutions, a social enterprise providing end to end solutions on sustainable organic agriculture. A remarkable (spider)woman of Madras, who needs to be thought of with gratitude by us!

Anantanarayanan Raman

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