November 27, 2020
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What is it about Tamil Nadu? Children want to drive before they can walk or operate before even entering medical school and parents encourage them to break the law, all with an eye on records.

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Chennai Corner
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Parents Who Need Parenting

What is it about Tamil Nadu and its precocious children, not to mention irresponsible parents? Children want to drive before they can walk or operate before even entering medical school and parents encourage them to break the law, all with an eye on records.

In one such case, the Madras high court has sent a notice to the parents of Navin Kumar, a fourth standard student, who was allowed to drive different cars on highways in Dindigul district recently, applauded and encouraged by his parents and school teachers. A local paper gave a rah rah account of the little boy’s “feat” that prompted a PIL by a citizen, S. Viswanathan.

Vishvanathan’s contention is that the boy endangered the lives of other motorists on the highway. Considering that the rate of accidents has gone up (in Chennai it’s up by 75 per cent compared 1996) in the state, one would think that the parents of the boy, would at least think of their son’s safety. But then Navin Kumar must have been following in the dangerous footsteps of Achal Khemka (16) who took a Mercedes Benz for a joyride on the night of December 13, 2007 and allegedly ran over 11 pavement dwellers, killing three of them on the spot.

Or was the school boy trying to emulate Dileepan Raj, the “teen surgeon”, who performed a Caesarean two years ago to get into the record books, assisted by his indulgent parents, both of whom are doctors (Dr Murugesan and Dr Gandhimathy)? The teen was trying to be Doogie Howser, except Doogie was fictional. Dileepan put a young woman’s life at grave risk. The surgery, conducted at a hospital owned by his parents at Manaparai near Tiruchi, was videographed for the benefit of the Guinness Book of World Records (which later said it did not endorse such attempts). But after the outrage, the video vanished and lawyers for the accused claimed Dileepan was merely assisting his father.

Physician, heal thyself!

This is believed to be the medical capital of India. Recently even Karnataka’s CM Yeddyurappa came here to get a health check-up. But this is also the place where doctors who don’t bring glory to the profession flourish.

A case in point is the one where a doctor and his son are accused in the Pondicherry University fake mark sheet scam. The case hit the headlines after Justice R Reghupati of the Madras High Court made a dramatic disclosure that a union minister had tried to influence him on behalf of the father-son. Now the doctor-son duo (Dr C Krishnamurthy-Kiruba Shankar, a third year medical student), against whom there is a CBI case for allegedly inflating marks of engineering and medical students, have been given anticipatory bail. In his order on Tuesday, Justice Jeyapaul said, “There is no concrete proof to show that these petitioners ever attempted to tamper with the course of the investigation... except the charge that they tempted the university staff members with a sum of Rs 45,000, paid it and got the marks inflated, there is no allegation that they were in fact involved in the virtual manipulation of the marks.”

Recently, the Tamil Nadu Medical Council revoked the suspension of Dr Palani Ravichandran, after he was barred from practicing last August almost a year after his arrest in Mumbai for his alleged involvement in a multi-state kidney scam. The council says its members “were forced” to revoke his suspension after Ravichandran furnished proof that he was not found guilty by a lower court. Now, Dr Ravichandran cannot practice as a nephrologist which he did without registering his degree with the council, but can practice general medicine. But Dr Ravichandran can still apply for the licence after registering his MD in nephrology. “I hope to resume the practice of nephrology soon,” he says.

A purge, DMK ishtyle

The purge was sudden and done with surgical precision. For a man who had a four decade-long association with CM Karunanidhi and was number five in the DMK’s pecking order (he was a deputy general secretary) and was the PWD minister since 1989, Durai Murugan is now out in the cold. He was seen in the assembly a day later, looking stoic even when the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly was informed that there had been a “reshuffle” of portfolios and that the CM would now handle PWD while Durai Murugan will keep law. Interestingly, about two months ago, the CM shed most of his portfolios claiming he was tired and overburdened. And that’s how he justified bringing in son Stalin as the deputy CM and gave him all the portfolios he shook off.

There is speculation on why such a long association between the octogenarian and Durai Murugan has turned sour. One theory is that the CM’s “specific instructions” on two big projects in Cuddalore district were ignored. Another one is that Durai Murugan is not kow towing to Stalin, the way the rest of the DMK leaders and ministers and the bureaucracy is doing.

Definitely in the doghouse

Durai Murugan is definitely in the doghouse. When a politician does not make it for a junket abroad, one can safely assume so. Or he’d be going to the US on July 28 for a week to “study” the San Antonio river in Texas, which apparently was as polluted as the Cooum is, but now is a tourist attraction after extensive cleaning.

Incidentally, this is the second “study” trip for the same purpose. Only last week, Durai Murugan had told the assembly that a team of officials from different departments including the Chennai Corporation had submitted a report after they studied San Antonio. He was all set to go to the US to “study” the “study” report. Now Chennai Mayor M Subramaniam, even Stalin’s secretary K Deenabandhu, PWD secretary R Ramasundaram, IAMWARM (Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration and Management) Project Director Vibu Nayar are in the delegation that the deputy CM will lead once the centre clears the trip. All bets are off on whether the centre will shoot it down considering the DMK is part of the UPA coalition and Stalin, the son of CM Karunanidhi, is leading it! 

All that froth about the Cooum

Cooum too can attract crowds -- just last week, those passing the canal near Nelson Manickam Road stopped and looked over the ledge to gawk at the frothy waters in the river. Apparently some unit had discharged its effluent into the Cooum causing the froth. Used to its stink and waste (sometimes even bodies) floating on the waters, the river turned out to be a “tourist attraction” for the latest violation it was subjected to.

But, the cleaning of Cooum is already underway. It’s a Rs 2,547 crore project called IAMWARM which has World Bank assistance. The restoration of the river has been taken up from its origin at Kesavaram village in Tiruvalluvar district to its mouth in the Bay of Bengal, a distance of 72 kms. For the distance of 32 kms from Kesavaram to Korattur, the Cooum is pretty clean – the rural folk use it for irrigation but urban municipalities dump their waste in it! The river becomes moderately polluted for the next 24 kms from Korattur to Koyambedu. And after Koyambedu, for the remaining 16 kms it becomes the stinky mess that any Chennaite can smell for miles away.

Will it be cleaned up? I daresay not by “study” trips.


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