The Manonmaniam Sundaranar (MS) University in Tirunelveli has withdrawn the book ‘Walking with the Comrades’ by Arundhati Roy from its syllabus after a complaint by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the Sangh Parivar’s student outfit. The book’s withdrawal has resulted in sharp criticism from political parties and progressive organisations alike.
The government has revoked the permission granted for religious, political and social events until further orders. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues with the Vetrivel Yatra.
COVID-19 infections in the state crossed the 7.5 lakh mark during the week, with active cases below 19,000. Less than seven districts have reported more than 100 new cases over the past five days.
Workers from the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) held a protest against the move to corporatise manufacturing units and workshops across the country.
Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited (TAMIN) workers demanded wages which have been pending for the past seven months, while a 28-year-old journalist was hacked to death in Chennai. NewsClick brings you a round-up of the happenings across the state this week.
University Removes Roy’s Book from Syllabus
The MS University has removed the book ‘Walking with the Comrades’ by Arundhathi Roy from its syllabus after a complaint from the ABVP. The withdrawal happened on November 12, based on the recommendation of a special committee set up by the VC.
The book was included in the syllabus for the post graduate English course in 2017, and has now been replaced with ‘My native land: Essays on Nature’, by M. Krishnan.
Its removal has elicited strong reactions from progressive organsations who have called the move a a meek surrender to the threat by a student union. The Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association (TNPWAA) held an online meeting on November 12 against the removal of the book.
The meeting, addressed by Members of Parliament S. Venkatesan and Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, passed a resolution condemning the removal without convening the senate, syndicate and academic committee meetings.
The resolution accused the VC of conceding to the demands of the ABVP and claimed that such moves are aimed at “saffronising” the university. It also demanded that the state government intervenes immediately to ensure the restoration of the book to the syllabus. Opposition parties also condemned the move by the varsity. Read More
Government Revokes Permission for Gathering
With the BJP carrying on with the Vetrivel Yatra, the government revoked the permission granted to gatherings with more than 100 participants. The government order came after tension prevailed in a number of places where the yatra took place.
The Madras High Court questioned the legitimacy of the yatra with the advocate of the director general of police submitting that it was purely political and not religious. The BJP also said it would finish the yatra on December 4, two days ahead of the actual schedule.
The party accused the government of banning the yatra while proceeding with government events with mass gatherings. Though a second wave of COVID-19 is expected, the BJP seems more inclined to continue with the yatra. Read More
COVID-19: Active Cases below 19K, Discharges Increase
The number of new COVID-19 cases in the remained well below the 2,500 mark over the last six days. With the addition of 2,112 fresh cases on November 12, the number of total infections in the state reached 7,52,521. The total number of casualties rose to 11,440, with 18,395 active cases.
The COVID-19 tally of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) increased to 2,07,173 cases with 3,753 casualties and 5,648 active cases. The week saw the district collector of Kancheepuram Mageswari and Kallakurichi MLA Prabhu contracting the infection.
The indecision of the government in reopening the schools was evident again, with it announcing another postponement. Schools were set to reopen on November 16 for students between classes 9 to 12. The government reversed its decision after the parents expressed their concern in a meeting held on November 9.
Cinema halls in the state reopened on November 10 after having been shut for eight months since March 24. The cinema halls will have an occupancy of 50% as per the standard operating procedure. However, the issue of a virtual print fee is set to prevent any new releases for the Diwali season.
ICF Workers Protest Corporatisation
Workers from the ICF, Perambur, in Chennai, held a protest on November 10 against the corporatisation move by the Centre. The ICF United Workers Union (ICF-UWU), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), raised objections to the railways’ ministry appointing RITES as the consulting agency.
The railway ministry has paid Rs 1.27 crores as consulting fee to RITES for them to recommend a proposal for corporatising manufacturing units and railway workshops, starting with Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareli, alleged trade union leaders.
The move to corporatise manufacturing units will lead to private companies taking over different units resulting in jobs losses, low wages and lesser job security the protesters alleged. The union demanded that the Compulsory Retirement Scheme be rolled out for those with 30 years of service or who have attained the age of 55.
The union extended support to the all India strike called by central trade unions and kisan organisations on November 26. Read More
TAMIN Workers Demand Pending Wages
Workers from the TAMIN (Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited) took out a protest in Chennai after having been denied wages for the past seven months. Employees of the organisation alleged that they were being paid only 50% of their wages since last year. They mentioned that they hadn’t been paid since April this year.
The recent restrictions on quarrying has left the state government enterprise gasping for funds. More than 80 quarries have been closed down since 2016 for want of environmental clearance.
The workers demanded their pending wages and the sanctioning of a 10% Dearness Allowance and implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission. The Joint Action Committee of the TAMIN trade unions warned of further struggle if their demands were not met.
Journalist Hacked to Death in Chennai
A TV journalist was hacked to death by a three-member gang in Chennai on November 9. The deceased, Moses, was 28 years old and had been working as a journalist for Tamizhan TV, a regional channel. He hailed from Nallur, a village near Kundrathur in Kanchipuram district.
The journalist, who had been consistently reporting on the alleged illegal sale of government poramboke land was hacked to death late on November 9. However, the police FIR has said that the murder was a result of personal enmity.
Gnanaraj Yesudhasan, the father of the deceased, said: “Lots of people used to come looking for him, seeking his help in solving an issue. And more often than not, Moses will try and get the issues solved,” The Wire reported.
The police has arrested four people in connected with the incident and the district superintendent of police claimed that personal vengeance and a land dispute were the motive behind the murder. Journalists’ bodies alleged that the police had not extended protection to Moses after he complained of a threat to his life from the land mafia led by one Navamani of the nearby village.
Will Kamal Haasan’s Political Gamble Pay Off?
The Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), led by the famed actor Kamal Haasan, has set its goals high in the upcoming assembly elections. The party has decided not to align with the ‘kazhagams’ in the elections while keeping open the option of leading a front.
The party, which is hardly two years old, has a massive rural disconnect which was evident in the results of the general elections and the assembly by-elections in May 2019. The party polled 3.72% votes in the 36 Lok Sabha constituencies it contested.
The actor has claimed that he is a rationalist, but his comments on the Manusmriti row, where he said the book was not in circulation, attracted sharp criticism from progressive and womens’ organisations.
While Haasan’s personality cult is undeniable in urban areas, the party’s attempts to replicate the Aam Aadmi Party may not work. Read More