Chennai Corporation on Twitter

The Chennai Corporation is on Twitter and it has an invitation on its website asking people to join the conversation.

Not many seem to be doing so, while official tweets seem to have frozen on June 17. The last tweet by the civic body is one announcing its Tamil website. The Hindu recently wrote on social networking as a useful tool for governments. The Corporation Commissioner should read it.
The Twitter account is yet to be verified, and has not may followers for a city of 6 million plus inhabitants. It would be good if there is a confirmation that the Corporation is using social media in a genuinely interactive manner, rather than merely as a ‘me too’ add-on to its seemingly wide range of options for citizen feedback (helpline, email, feedback form and so on).


Pensioner Kanani: a welfare watchdog in Tamil Nadu

I like Pensioner Kanani for the high-quality service that it provides to retirees. The mainstream media is too preoccupied with breaking news, political games and pseudo-events to cover the retirement sector.

One can imagine that they are also less interested in this population sub-set because pensioners are not aggressive consumers, and are therefore unattractive to advertisers.

But Pensioner Kanani bridges the gap nicely. In its July 2010 issue, for instance, the slim volume reproduces some important Government Orders and instructions. One of them relates to the eligibility of a disabled son/daughter of a pensioner, to be nominated by the father for the benefit after his demise. Apparently, as per the letter no. 17109/Pension/2010 from the Principal Secretary to Government, Mr. K. Shanmugam, the son is eligible even if he is married, but Rule 49 (iii) (vi) of Tamil Nadu Pension Rules 1978 does not provide the same benefit to a disabled daughter. In fact, the son gets the benefit because there is no specific prohibition of pension nomination based on marriage status, while it does exist for daughter. The whole issue has come up after being agitated in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, in WP (MD) No. 10144/2006 dated 15.12.2006.

Pensioner Kanani has also raised the issue of the DMK Government in Tamil Nadu not ordering the same health benefit for state pensioners, as their Central counterparts, in the area of monthly medical allowance. Although the State has announced parity in pensions, it has not raised the monthly health allowance from Rs. 100 to Rs. 300, which the Centre has done with effect from September 1, 2008.

This nifty collection of Government orders and information in the Kanani, besides related articles by experts in various fields is edited and published by A. Saminathan, who actively participated in the Joint Action Council of agitating employees in the late 1980s. The publication address is : A. Saminathan, State President, All India Senior Citizens and Pensioners Confederation, 15/32, Bharathidasan Street, Avinashi, 641654 Tamil Nadu.

How to send Reader’s Mail to The Hindu in Chennai

The Reader’s Mail column in The Hindu is one way of conveying grievances, complaints and suggestions to the Government and civic authorities such as Chennai Corporation, Metrowater, Municipalities, Panchayats and Metropolitan Transport Corporation.

On July 5, The Hindu announced in its regional pages that the City Bureau would henceforth accept Reader’s Mail via e-mail.

The announcement made it clear that the e-mails should have ‘Readers’ Mail’ in the subject line, and contain the postal address and the telephone number of the sender. The address to which the e-mail has to be sent is:

The most effective way to highlight your point is to keep it short, precise and simple. The better-written your letter (e-mail), the greater the chance that it will be chosen for publication. You can also provide helpful footnote hints to the mail, such as web links and other evidence in support of your claim. This makes it possible for the mail to be pursued further and perhaps turned into a news story.

In a nation of billionaires, children with crippled legs

During the recent IPL matches held in Chennai, there were middle class citizens who thought nothing about forking out Rs. 1,000 each to watch what has been proved to be a scandal-ridden spectacle that passes for sport. The prosperity pipeline of the IPL is so constructed, that that thirsty spectators had to pay five rupees for about 50 ml of drinking water in a cup, which the organisers would not sell by the bottle. Those who wanted some food should have at least a hundred rupees in their pockets for a small package of ‘sambar’ rice.

Today, as I stood waiting for the 11.19 towards Velachery on the Fort MRTS platform, I saw a ragpicker couple with a child, about three or four years old. As this picture shows, the child is unable to walk properly and its ankle and feet seemed to be deformed. Every step involved making contact with its heels, rather than the entire foot. It was as if the floor was too hot and it had to rush ahead with minimum contact with the ground.

Can India race towards progress on such weak legs? The child at Fort Station.

There is little doubt that many poor Indians are finding the ground too hot today.  They are like animals that are forced to live on a hot tin roof.

The child was pleading with some passengers for a ‘juice’ drink. An old man of obviously modest means readily fetched one from the nearby kiosk, while another gave the kid a tenner. The couple, who had been collecting the trash outside the station and bagging it, were visibly pleased.

Do our leaders show the same concern about income distribution in policy, which humble tax-paying citizens do? Our leaders talk big, and are more and more visibly muscular in both policy and practice. They use the Police to quell protest, loosen the purse strings only for those who earn obscene incomes legally and then turn a blind eye to those who hoard wealth illegally.

What future does this child have in this GDP-focused billionaire-infested India, where acquiring skills, education and even basic health is now decided by market economists who have thrown the majority of us to greedy corporates?

As a tailpiece, here is an essay written in 2003 by Professor Amartya Sen, on Hunger in India.

M.K. Stalin’s website attracts civic petitions

When it comes to government departments, getting petitions accepted over email is still not a practical option. Although your emailed petition flies off the computer and lands in the inbox of an IAS officer or his departmental officers almost instantly, it might as well have been sent into a black hole. Invariably, nothing further will be heard about it (unless someone has included some dire statements within that attract police attention).

Yet, there are many citizens who are hopeful that elected representatives and government servants will take their emails seriously, fulfilling the promises made when considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money were spent to buy laptop computers, Blackberry phones and so on in large numbers.

Deputy Chief Minister M.K.Stalin has a website that receives complaints, and there are several of them on the site.

One of them, reproduced below, indicates the neglect of some fast-growing suburbs such as Mangadu, where the local town panchayat has been found lax and wanting in administrative capacity, resolve, responsiveness to citizens’ complaints and transparency. There are several complaints against this Mangadu Town Panchayat, that appear regularly in other media and on the Internet.



Dear honourable minister sir, we whole heartedly appreciate your dedication in local administration of our state. But our mangadu town panchayat needs your special attention. The president of the mangadu town panchayat is a nice person. The subject is about repairing the road leading to mangadu police station-thiru murugan salai -the road is in a very bad condition. There are many big pits and falls- the president thiru srinivasan when complained about it said that the town panchayat was sanctioned rs 4.00 crores for laying cement road.nothing has happened so far. The condition is becoming bad to worse, it is very difficult to ride two wheelers and cars in that road.this has been the condition for the last one year. We humbly request you to bestow your personal attention to bring back the road into good condition.thanks for ananda vikatan which published your website and also proudly informed the readers that the minister goes to sleep after only replying all the complaints. Thank you sir , m.s.subramanian no.1,sakthi nagar annexe,mangadu

Posted by SUBRAMANIAN M.S  on August 15, 2008, 11:19 pm


Belkin N150 router: Wireless not as easy as 1-2-3

As wireless devices proliferate, our pricey broadband connections become that much more useful for browsing anytime, anywhere at home. With a netbook, an iPod 3G touch, and the desktop, it was time to go wireless, I thought, and picked up a Belkin N150 802.11 N router from Croma in Anna Nagar, Chennai (Rs. 2199 nett).

The impressive graphics on the package show that setting it up is as easy as 1-2-3. It does look simple, but for some strange reason, the CD in the package did not install properly. It asks you to select your geographical region — India is missing — and when you choose ‘other’, it just refuses to move ahead.

So I had to use the Windows Vista facility to create a wireless network connection. That apparently did work okay, and the router was in action. My Asus 1005HA connected with it fine, but strangely, it was not connecting to the Internet.

The reason, I found after some fiddling, was that the type of connection to be fixed on the router is “PPoE” while by default the setting is “dynamic,” (suitable for cable modems, the documentation says). Selecting PPoE fixed the issue and things got moving.

The Belkin N150 is a middle-range router that apparently partially uses the 802.11 N wi-fi standard, offering 150 Mbps connectivity. However, this may not be the ideal setting for all devices, since the 3G iPod Touch supports wi-fi b/g standard.