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Tambaram is fast becoming a major hub in Chennai. This has been possible due to the fast development of suburbs of the city. The IT industry has been one of the major contributors to this growth since majority of the IT companies are situated in the southern part of the city.
Both Chennai and Bangalore are major IT hubs in our country. The number of people traveling between these two stations has increased by many times in the recent past. A new train service between the two places would be of great relief for those who are not able to travel due to unavailability of seats.
The Central railway station is very far off from the suburbs. Those working in IT companies and those staying in the suburbs are finding it increasingly difficult to board the trains from the Central railway station. This is because they have to travel all the way to Park station, which is very far from Tambaram, and then go to the Central station by walk or an auto. Having a train service between Tambaram and Bangalore, via Kancheepuram, Arakkonam, would be a great relief.
The distance between Tambaram and Park station, by suburb trains, is approx 27 kms, while the distance between Chennai Central and Arakkonam is roughly 68 kms. The distance between Tambaram and Arakkonam, via Kancheepuram, is roughly 93 kms, which is close to the total distance traveled by the commuters in the existing setup. In fact, the distance is comparatively lesser and is more comfortable, owing to the fact that in the existing system, the commuters cannot go directly to Chennai Central from Tambaram by train.
Another advantage in introducing this service is a fact that Kancheepuram is a tourist centre and this service would greatly help the people traveling from Bangalore. The tourist attraction of Kancheepuram would really help the railways to generate significant revenue.
This service would help to relieve congestion in the Central railway station since a major part of the traffic is diverted to Tambaram. Futher, introducing such a service would not have major requirements on the infrastructure front, since there is already an existing BG link between Tambaram and Arakkonam, via Kancheepuram.
Several large, shade-giving old trees are being cut along Besant Avenue in Besantnagar in the name of decongestion of traffic. So far two trees outside Olcott Memorial School have been cut and one more gulmohar and two tamarind trees have been targeted by the Chennai Corporation to be cut in the coming days.
These trees are more than 20 years old and have been providing shade and safety for lot of commuters on the road as well as for the chidren of Olcott Memorial School.
So for whose convenience are they being cut ?
1. Besantnagar residents are fully aware of the location of these trees along and on the road and the majority have been adjusting to their presence. The trees are well indicated by large signs along the avenue. The warning signage can be further improved
2. These trees are more than 20 years old and have been providing shade and safety for lot of commuters on the road as well as for the chidren of Olcott Memorial School.
3. . Rash driving is rampant, particularly on Elliots Beach, 5 th Avenue and Besant Avenue and particularly on weekends. These trees provide a good check to rash driving. If they are removed and the roads are widened, instances of rash driving will only increase, making it difficult for local residents .
4. The shade provided by these trees makes the whole road very cool thus making it a favourite spot for early morning walkers and joggers especially senior citizens .
5. These trees are home to many birds and insects and we would be robbing them of their habitat if the trees are cut.
Tribute: Shankar Rajee
M.R. Narayan Swamy
Shankar Rajee, who died of a heart attack in Colombo on January 10, 2005, was one of the earliest entrants into Tamil militancy in Sri Lanka, one who closely witnessed the growth of the movement from its nascent days to the frightening proportions it has now assumed.
In the last years of his life, Shankar (real name Nesadurai Thirunesan) had bowed out of the Indian media scene and led a largely low key, though not quiet, life, hopping between Chennai, where his mother lived, and Colombo, where he was a consultant with the state-run Cashew Corporation. He was also the leader of whatever was left of the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation (EROS), the oldest of all the Tamil militant groups which came up in the 1970s in response to growing Sinhala chauvinism.
Shankar, who was educated in Jaffna and London, was among the earliest Tamils who took military training from the Palestinian guerrillas in the Middle East, probably in the hope that their own community would some day produce a Yasser Arafat.
In the years I covered the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict, I came into close contact with Shankar and he helped me gain valuable insight into the Tamil society. Our first meeting took place at the EROS office in a middle- class Chennai neighbourhood where I had gone to interview its other best-known leader, V. Balakumar. As the latter spoke to me, I saw Shankar seated by his side, studying a map of Jaffna and making a note or two. EROS had a collective leadership in which Balakumar and Shankar were the first among equals. They had contrasting personalities. Balakumar was the quiet one, almost inaudible, at home in Tamil, while Shankar spoke Tamil and English with equal ease, was outgoing and felt comfortable dealing with Indian bureaucracy and diplomats. Shankar was designated the head of the EROS military unit and maintained liaison with revolutionary groups from around the world.
Like so many Sri Lankan Tamils of that era, Shankar was a Marxist during his student days. In London, he and like-minded students formed a student group and then, in 1975, set up EROS. It was a path-breaking development in Tamil history. Some EROS members enjoyed a warm relationship with the local PLO representative who helped them to fly to Lebanon and Syria to get military training from Arafat's Fatah guerrilla group. Shankar valued this training although nothing much came out of it.
It was EROS that introduced LTTE, then a virtually unknown group, to the Palestinians but this produced friction between him and LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. The row was over money, which Shankar paid up. But their relations never improved, and years later LTTE's Anton Balasingham, probably reflecting Prabhakaran's view, accused Shankar of being an Indian spya charge the latter vehemently denied.
Much before that, Shankar recalled meeting Prabhakaran sometime in 1975-76 in the Tamil Nadu town of Tiruchy. Shankar had flown into India from London carrying air gun pellets, batteries and film rolls. He had been told to deliver them to a man but was not given his identity. It turned out to be Prabhakaran, a young and largely unknown entity who turned up at the small hotel across the Tiruchy bus stand where Shankar was putting up. When I reasearched for the LTTE chief's biography (Inside an Elusive Mind, Konark, 2003) Shankar told me: "It was Prabhakaran who came to take the delivery. Honestly, I was not impressed with him. He did not seem happy with what I had brought. He obviously was expecting some other things. Just what, I do not know."
Years later, before the souring of ties, Shankar had a more fruitful meeting, in an LTTE hideout in Sri Lanka's north, with Prabhakaran, who by then had begun to acquire a stature in the militant ranks. Shankar had a vivid memory, and in 2001 could recall what really happened: "Prabhakaran was eager to know what training the Palestinians imparted. His eyes sparkled at the mention of M-16s, AK-47s and anti-articraft guns. But he was keener to hear about pistols and revolvers."
But Prabhakaran was not a man of theory; he invited Shankar to display his shooting skills. The target was an empty Milk Maid can. From 20 feet away, Shankar took aim and grazed the can, toippling it. "Prabhakaran walked up to the fallen can, picked it up and put it back on the wall. He then returned to where the Fath-trained (Shankar) was standing and fired the gun, hitting it smack in the middle." Shankar was naturally impressed.
Despite the Palestinian training, Shankar and his friends in EROS did not carry out any military action in Sri Lanka. There were also differencs within EROS, leading to a split and the birth of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF). When Tamil militancy galloped from 1983, EROS was among the first groups to secure Indian military training.
Shankar was also among the first to understand that New Delhi would never allow an independent Tamil Eelam to come up.
During the years leading up to the 1987 India-Sri Lanka peace agreement that sought to end Tamil separatism, Shankar, as the EROS military wing leader, masterminded some deadly bomb attacks in the island-nation that claimed many innocent lives. He also developed close ties with the Indian establishment but this was not enough to save him from a jail term in Chennai that may have contributed to his early death.
Shankar and Balakumar met the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, just before the latter flew to Colombo in July 1987 to sign the India-Sri Lanka accord. Prabhakaran, however, continued to mistrust him. Shankar and Balakumar met the LTTE chief at New Delhi's Ashok Hotel at that time; but on a second occasion, Prabhakaran told Balakumar that he did not want to see Shankar.
Shankar had a keen understanding of the Sri Lankan Tamil society and of LTTE. When the Tigers took on the Indian Army, he prophesied to friends that Prabhakaran would never, ever give up his Eelam goal. He was proved right. In March 1990 the Indian troops came home and the now-powerful LTTE ordered EROS to disband or merge with the Tigers. Some disgusted EROS members drifted away from politics, others (Balakumar included) joined LTTE while small band led by Shankar kept the outfit's flag flying for whatever it was worth.
Shankar was arrested in Chennai in 1997 on charges of smugggling foreign currency and was jailed. None of his contacts in the Indian establishment came to his rescue. He spent over a year in prison, where, his mother recalled later, he developed a good rapport with the other, mostly Indian, prisoners and became their leader. But despite the bitterness the detention caused, Shankar considered himself a friend of India. The imprisonment, however, affected his health, and he was never the same old self again.
Shankar never underestimated the LTTE or Prabhakaran, At the same time, he could not think of giving up his independent existence. Once the Sri Lankan military took control of Jaffna from LTTE in December 1995, Shankar visited the town to see a relative. The LTTEwhich controlled a small part of Jaffna peninsula but had many eyes and ears in the regioncame to know about the visit. The Tigers wanted to know if Shankar was merely calling on the relative or trying to resurrect EROS. Shankar got the message and promptly left Jaffna.
More than once he told me that Prabhakaran's personality would never allow him to compromise with Colombo, Norway or no Norway. It is a viewpoint that many have come to share now. But in February 2002, when the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government signed a ceasefire, only a few like Shankar asserted, with confidence that comes with experience, that it would not lead to Prabhakaran embracing Colombo, never ever.
From: Nesan Thirunesan, Son of the late Shankar Rajee, Leader of EROS.
We strongly oppose the plan of the Tamil Nadu government to demolish Queen Mary's College, as this college is one of the most historic and a land mark of Chennai.
It has recently come to our attention that the Government of TamilNadu is proposing to demolish the buildings housing Queen Mary's College, Chennai. We are alarmed at this possible action.
"There is nothing that solidifies and strengthens a Nation like reading the Nation's history, whether that History is recorded in books or embodied in customs, institutions and monuments" (J.Anderson)
The Queen Mary's College, Chennai is both an institution and a monument. Set up in 1914, it was the first women's college in Chennai and the second in the South. A rich educational tradition and the experience of
a long history define the institution that is Queen Mary's College. Several of the college buildings including Pentland House (1915), Stone House (1918) and Jeypore House (1921) are vintage monuments and have
been declared as heritage buildings by the Heritage Committee of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority. This educational institution with its striking architecture has been one of the proud
landmarks of Chennai, helping define and continuing to contribute to the personality of the city. It is soon to celebrate its centenary in befitting manner.
Many of the buildings have been recently renovated and equipped with modern facilities with the help of a grant from the Department of Education. An effort by the alumnae has been underway to raise contributions to the 'building fund' set up to restore earlier buildings requiring more extensive repair and reconstruction. Plans
have been drawn for proposed improvements and are currently in the implementation stage.
It is therefore with great shock and dismay that we recently learnt of the plans of the Government to pull down this prestigious college and replace it with a Secretariat building.
Queen Mary's College is located on the Marina in an atmosphere conducive to learning, and offers education of the highest standard to more than 4000 students. The College is rooted in a strong sense of
responsibility to its surrounding community. It is committed to providing educational opportunities for students from less-privileged backgrounds to realize their potential. Today, most of the students
hail from lower middle class and labour class families, many of them first generation students. The 25 degree courses offered are a constantly evolving mix of the traditional and the unorthodox, tailored
to meet the unique needs of the community it serves. Always a pioneer in educational circles, Queen Mary's College has been the one of first to offer rare courses including physical education, three Home Science
Degrees, Tourism and Travel Management, Music and Functional English.
One of the best ways to preserve a country's heritage and pay tribute to its history is to maintain and restore ancient buildings, to retain a legacy for future generations to understand the country's great and
glorious cultural richness. We fear that the Government's proposed move to demolish Queen Mary's College lacks vision in this regard. The move will only serve to erode social, and educational values that have been
built over decades and deprive deserving lower middle class female students of an immensely valuable college education that uplifts and empowers.