Chennai - Sandesh

Tamilnadu: Rage Yes, Reprisal Not Yet
Even as popular media painted Tamilians as separatists, the ground level reality is hearteningly different. Pulwama reaction provides a case in point. Moksha Deepams were lit across the state atop temples and special prayers were conducted for our martyrs. A "Never Forgive, Never Forget" march was conducted in West Mambalam hinting the public rage against Pakistan. Traders of the ever busy Ritchie Street (electronic goods bazaar) of Chennai downed shutters and conducted protest demonstrations urging the Centre to avenge Pulwama. Veda chanting was conducted at Kumbakonam Mutt to seek solace to souls in the brutal Pulwama attack. Ponniah, a daily wage farm worker from Theni humbly presented his savings Rs.1,000 to the district collector towards the bereaved soldiers’ families. Over 6,000 students of Sakthi Kailash women's college in Salem conducted silent prayers for Pulwama martyrs. This is just a glimpse. But Tamilnadu showed lag in acting against those who insulted the Pulwama Martyrs. Simon Sebastian aka Seeman of Naam Tamilar Katchi equated Pulwama martyrs to those died in Thoothukudi Sterlite Protest police firing and Red Sander smugglers’ death. He said the PM's patriotism is selective when it comes to Tamilian death and that of citizens of other states. Another casteist-separatist Subaveera Pandian tweeted that there is no Brahmin soldier among martyrs of Pulwama. An IIT student praised Pakistan for the Pulwama attacks in his tweet. While there are arrests, rustications, suspensions of anti national offenders across the country, Tamilnadu is to see action against on that count yet.

Snake and Ladder: Struggle or Growth?
This is a classic case wherein legal hurdle emanating from perceived ecological hazard stumps industrial growth. The Supreme Court, on February 18, 2019, set aside the National Green Tribunal order allowing Sterlite Copper plant in Thuthukudi to reopen. SC held that it is outside the tribunal’s jurisdiction. This verdict has come after three years of pendency both in the NGT and SC. This order resting on maintainability clause has taken 3 years to be pronounced. Affected party now has to go to the Madras High Court, against the April 9, 2018, closure order of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. On December 15, 2018, NGT stayed the pollution board’s closure order and allowed the plant to operate with the caveat that it undertook certain ameliorative measures. The board and the state government challenged the NGT order in the SC. Now back to square one. 

All Homeless, All Voters, But Not On Voter List 
The Election Commission of India speaks of a target of 100% voter turnout. It refers to the present voter list. There are whole sections of eligible voters yet to enter the very voter list. For example, there are hundreds of Sadhu - Sanyasis leading a life of spiritual pursuit near the huge Shiva temple in the great pilgrim centre of Tiruvannamalai as well as around the Giri pradakshina route. None of them has any identity proof to speak of. But they want to be a part of the democratic process of election. Yes, they want to vote and 350 of them have applied for inclusion. Taluka level authorities have issued ID cards so that they may try to join the voter list. Simultaneously, a similar attempt to make the voter list more inclusive has been made. Chennai municipal corporation has conducted camps to enlist voter out of the inmates of Mental Health Institute run by it. This step is the result of constant goading by an NGO. Yet another section waiting to enter the voter list is the huge number of senior citizens biding their time in old age homes run by government as well as private institutions. Like the Tiruvannamalai Sanyasi they too do not have a family to fall back on so that they can avail of some sort of identity. The city of Coimbatore abounds in such old age homes crying for attention in the matter of enhancing the voter list. With elections just weeks away, focus on voter list enhancement is eminently on time.

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