Discrimination against dalits appears to be continuing in Tamil Nadu with the elected panchayat presidents facing caste-based discrimination in different parts of the state.
The state continues to see a drop in the number of fresh COVID-19 cases, with less than 5,000 cases recorded in the past five days. The number of deaths in the state has increased to 10,529.
The TN government rejected the Institute of Excellence (IoE) status for Anna University. The Vice-Chancellor of the university has also been criticised by the Higher Education Minister for acting independently without consulting the government.
The Tourism industry continues to bear the brunt of the lockdown, which has led to the loss of jobs to the tune of 5 lakh. NewsClick brings you a roundup of important happenings this week.
In a recent incident, the president of Mannampandal panchayat was allegedly harassed by the vice president and her husband. She was prevented from sitting on a new chair purchased for the office of the panchayat president.
ATROCITIES AGAINST DALITS
Recently, a lot of incidents regarding atrocities on dalits have come to the light. There have been incidents where an elected panchayat president was discriminated against in the panchayat meetings and stopped from hoisting the national flags on Independence Day.
In a recent incident, the president of Mannampandal panchayat was allegedly harassed by the vice president and her husband. She was prevented from sitting on a new chair purchased for the office of the panchayat president. The president, a 23-year woman named Priya, was prevented from sitting on the chair by Rajagopal, the husband of the vice- president of the panchayat.
The Mayiladuthurai police have filed a case against the offenders after Priya held a sit-in protest in front of the panchayat union office.
In another incident, a dalit man was made to repeatedly fall at the feet of an intermediate-caste person at Kayathar in Thoothukudi district. His crime was that a goat from his herd went grazing in a farm belonging to the Thevar community. The video of the incident went viral on social media sites attracting severe criticism followed by seven men being booked and detailed by the police.
The recent repeated incidents of discrimination and atrocities against dalits, read together with the very low conviction rates on such crimes, invite strong introspections on further strengthening the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
COVID-19: CASES FALL BELOW 5,000
The number of COVID-19 cases in the state continues to drop after a stagnation for more than 60 days. New cases reduced below 5,000 cases in the last five days. The total number of infections increased to 6,79,959 with 40,959 active cases. Total casualties in the state stand at 10,529.
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) continued to record more than 1,000 cases in the past week. The tally of infections in the city also increased to 1,87,852 with 3,488 casualties.
Meanwhile, the government of Tamil Nadu has banned nine hospitals from treating Covid-19 patients. The Directorate of Medical Education has recommended the action over the last two months after reports of irregularities in treating the patients emerged. Eighteen hospitals have also been instructed to repay the excess charges collected from positive patients.
PREPARATIONS FOR ELECTIONS BEGIN
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) constituted an eight-member panel to prepare the election manifesto for the upcoming Assembly elections. The panel held its first meeting this week to decide on the proposals to be included in the manifesto. The committee has invited the party members to send their proposals and decided to tour the district to decide on crucial issues to be addressed.
Actor Kamal Hassan-led Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) too held its executive committee meeting to gear up for the assembly elections. The party has authorised Kamal Hassan to decide on the strategy for the upcoming elections on striking an alliance. The party, founded in 2018, contested the general elections on its own in 38 constituencies.
The long due political plunge of actor Rajinikanth is yet to materialise with hardly six months left for the polls. The actor has been playing cat and mouse for the past several years over entering politics but has made hardly any efforts to engage himself. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been waiting for his arrival in the political scene, but now it seems to have decided to move on.
GOVERNMENT REFUSES IoE STATUS FOR ANNA UNIVERSITY
The state government, after a controversy, has decided to refuse the Institute of Excellence status for Anna University. The government stated that the 69% reservation could be affected if IoE status was accorded to the university and cited the possible increase in tuition fees as the reasons for its decision.
Additionally, Anna University Vice Chancellor (VC) M K Surappa was accused of acting independently without consulting the state government. The state law minister also questioned the authority of the VC as he wrote to the Union ministry without consultation with the state. Opposition parties and student organisations held protests during the week against the proposal of IoE to the university.
The government’s decision to refrain from conferring the IoE was announced after the Students Federation of India and the student wing of the DMK held a protest in front of the university against the proposal.
Meanwhile, a few hundred staff of the university are awaiting absorption after five technological universities in Chennai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tirunelveli were merged with Anna University in 2012. These staff members are now denied any leave benefits, while they have not received the annual increments for the last eight years. The then Chief Minister J Jayalalitha assured the students and staff of those universities that any adverse impact would not take place due to the merger. The employees, most of who belong to the administrative and non-teaching cadres, have been waiting for ‘justice’ since the merger of the universities.
TOURISM INDUSTRY AWAITS REVIVAL
The tourism industry in Tamil Nadu is waiting for a revival after the pandemic hit the industry hard. The industry has reportedly employed around 5 lakh workers who are left with no wage and income at present. The different sectors in the industry, from street vendors to posh hotels, have taken a jolt.
The workers who depend largely on daily income are the most affected even as the government help remains negligible. The seasonal and unorganised nature of the industry resulted in a lower number of workers registering with the welfare board, leaving them without the Rs 2,000 cash relief announced by the government.
The famed destinations in the state are still waiting for the tourists even after the government has announced relaxations for the industry. The state government has sought Rs 250 crore for the revival of the industry. However, the workers in the sector have demanded the waiver of rents for the buildings, road tax exemptions for tourist vehicles and cancellation of e-pass for tourists visiting hill stations.