None of India’s neighbours influence electorates in State Assembly elections as magnanimously as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean — Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu (TN) Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s disapproval of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presence during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony is the tip of the iceberg. Intriguingly, Amma’s (Mother’s, Jayalalithaa is endearingly referred so) diplomatic war against the Sri Lankan government is a recently revived phenomenon.
It was the year 2002 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government had refused to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Then TN’s Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa was rampantly exploiting this draconian legislation to suppress pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) voices in the state. The state government under provisions of POTA even jailed Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader, V Gopalasamy (Vaiko) on July 11, 2002 for his LTTE sympathiser activities. Continue reading “The curious case of Jayalalithaa and Tamil Eelam”→
Tamil Nadu goes to polls on the 24th of April 2014. The elections in the 39 parliamentary seats would be conducted in one phase. The near 72.14 million population of Tamil Nadu is divided amongst 7 Scheduled caste and 32 General seats of the Lok Sabha. The capital city of Chennai has been divided into three constituencies of Chennai North, Chennai South and Chennai Central.
The DMK is one of the oldest and most power parties contesting the elections. The DMK had effectively consolidated itself after coming to power in the 1967 elections. After the untimely demise of party founder C N Annadurai, M Karunanidhi became the Chief Minster of the state and has since been heading the DMK. There has been fierce infighting within the DMK to ascertain Karunanidhi’s successor. The battle ranges between siblings M K Alagiri and M K Stalin. Continue reading “Lok Sabha Elections 2014: Tamil Nadu analysis”→
NOTE: NOIDA as an acronym means New Okhla Industrial Development Authority. Due to common parlance, this region of Gautambudhnagar is referred to as Noida. This has resulted in the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority being called Noida Authority itself.
“Some 15 years back, it used to be difficult to find a bride for the grooms of this village. The village folk stole cattle from nearby villages as no form of vegetation could be cultivated on these lands. The times have definitely changed here now,” Freelance Journalist reporting from NOIDA from the past 10 years, Amit Chowdhary quipped when asked about villages that were occupied by the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA).
Barely five kilometres from the Noida City Centre metro station on the Noida-Greater Noida link road is Parthala Khanjarpur, a village exemplifying this phenomenon. The Noida authority had developed the village lands at the behest of builders who seek urbanised backdrops for developing residential colonies. Multi-storeyed residential apartments of Amarapali, Eldeco, Gaur, Unitech, Supertech, Ajnara and Aranya have emerged out of the barren lands of this village. While the acquisition has resulted in wealth being endowed on this region, the relative urbanisation of the acquired lands reflects poorly on the now reduced village areas. Continue reading “A village in industrial Noida: Parthala Khanjarpur”→
In light of the recent kidnapping of a lower kindergarten (LKG) student, the Chennai police urged schools to step-up security measures for ensuring the safety of children. While addressing a meeting of around 200 school principals, the police urged for schools to coordinate with parent-teacher associations (PTAs). They also called for having the identity of van owners and drivers carefully verified.
Toeing the line drawn by the city cops, Academic Coordinator, Bala Vidya Mandir School, Vasathi S mentioned about the probable installation of CCTV cameras inside the school campus. She said that all security measures are undertaken with the teachers. She insisted that teachers are present near the school gate till 3:30 PM to look over the children being escorted by their guardians. She also mentioned that the school maintains a detailed account of all the auto drivers and private van drivers who carry children to their homes.
Taking the higher ground on the directives issued, Principal, St Michael’s Academy, Brother Johnson elaborated on the existing security measures at his institution. He stated that CCTV cameras were already installed and that their school was involved in ensuring the safety of children much before the LKG student kidnapping incident. He mentioned that earlier there were PTA and school meetings once in two months and with the new directives, these meetings would be a monthly affair.
Principal, St Patrick School, Brother Doctor A Stanislaus expressed his inability to cater to students and their needs beyond the school boundary. He insisted that students were a responsibility of the institution as long as they are within the campus; but beyond the school gate, they were helpless.
While schools are responsible for the safety of pupils, it is imperative to emphasise that the police force cannot shrug off the onus with such ease. The safety of each citizen of our nation falls on the shoulders of the police mechanism. And overstepping this responsibility by holding schools accountable is not a rational solution.
Schools at Gandhi Nagar Fouth Main Road have come together to tackle the traffic congestion problem arising due to the large number of vehicles plying the locality. Roads in the posh locality are clogged at 3:10 PM and schools are coordinating with parent teacher associations, amongst themselves and city police to look into the matter.
Principal, St Michael’s Academy, Brother Johnson explained how the schools have coordinated their timings so as to reduce the traffic congestion. He mentioned that besides the synchronized timings of schools in the locality, there would be more steps to help counter the traffic jams. Expressing contentment with the efforts of traffic police, Brother Johnson also talked of engaging a private NGO to study the issue.
Academic Coordinator, Bala Vidya Mandir School, Vasathi S talked about the daily traffic program conducted at her institution. City traffic police personnel and the school authorities come together to guide the students about the basics of traffic and road safety rules during the daily traffic program sessions conducted by the school authorities.
While identifying the reasons for traffic congestion, Principal, St Patrick School, Brother Doctor A Stanislaus lambasted the Adyar club and residents for their callous approach. He mentioned that the traffic jams were a result of residents and attendees at the Adyar club parking their cars on the road despite have adequate parking spaces within their campuses. He also mentioned that traffic police were not directing traffic during some days of the week, which further magnifies the issue of traffic congestion.
The Fourth Main Road is made a one way route during peak traffic hours to tackle the congestion, but it is evident that this measure is not sufficient. Police personnel present at the venue refrained from commenting on the issue. A number of parents and students are also engaged in Road Safety Patrol (RSP) programmes but they too are unable to counter the traffic situation in the locality.
The debate between the environment and development has been a persistent yet futile one. First focused at the United Nations Human Environment Conference at Stockholm (1972), concerns for the environment have gained greater relevance as the industrialised world has progressed. The debate largely pitched development and environment in opposing factions until the concept of sustainable development was devised at the Rio 20+ summit in 1992.
Sustainable development was defined as being comprised of social, economic and environmental progress. At the conference, it was recognised that development and environment should be symbiotic and not be treated as conflicting entities.