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TN This Week: Students March to Speed-Up NEET Ban, Cracks Widens in Opposition

Sruti MD |
The week saw some healthy developments, such as single women being officially recognised as constituting a ‘family’, and the High Court ruling in favour of an arbitrarily retrenched media worker.
TN This Week: Students March to Speed-Up NEET Ban, Cracks Widens in Opposition

Image credit: Prakash R

With less than a week left for Diwali, firecracker sales have slowly picked up in the state, giving some relief for the industry.

In an unfortunate incident, a short-circuit induced blast in a firecracker shop in Sankarapuram town in Kallakurichi on October 26 killed five people and injured many.

On a positive note, a long-standing demand from women organisations in the state was met this week. Single women, who have separated from their husbands or parents, will now be officially recognised as ‘family’, and will be issued ration cards by the civil supplies department.

The Madras High Court ruled in favour of a Puthiya Thalaimurai media house employee, Satheesh, who was arbitrarily removed from work in 2018. He fought the case ruling with help of the group Journalists for Change. This is a big step towards workers’ security in the media, where the ‘hire and fire’ practice is rampant.

Alleging casteist practices in the reputed Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Prof C Lakshmanan sat on a hunger strike on October 25. After some assurance of talks and negotiations from the authorities, he withdrew his protest.

Regarding the COVID-19 situation in the state, cases have further reduced this week. Tamil Nadu reported 1,039 fresh COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths on October 29, which is a decline from 1,286 cases and 12 deaths the day before.

DISAPPOINTED WITH DIWALI BONUS

Tamil Nadu government employees, who were eagerly awaiting the Diwali bonus announcement, were disappointed when Chief Minister MK Stalin declared a mere 8.33% bonus and 1.67% ex-gratia for class C and D workers on October 23. In protest, trade unions have announced this year’s festival of lights as ‘Black Diwali’. Read more

TASMAC liquor outlet workers opposing low Diwali bonus. Image courtesy: CITU Tamil Nadu

Even after protests were announced by the various trade unions, no positive response was received from the government.

OPS SAYS ‘DISCUSS SASIKALA’S ENTRY’

Earlier this week AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam (OPS) said, “Let there be a discussion” on VK Sasikala’s re-entry into the party. However, AIADMK spokesperson and close-aide of Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS), D Jayakumar on October 28 asserted that she would not be admitted to the party.

While the divide in the two factions widens in AIADMK, Sasikala is on a grand tour of south Tamil Nadu to interact with cadres and has been sending out messages that she is looking to stake a claim in the party and setting it in order. Read more

Meanwhile, the ruling party and ministers are busy launching and defending the ‘Illam Thedi Kavi’ scheme amid strong criticism from some quarters. The scheme aims to address the gap that had arisen among students due to the closure of schools during the COVID-induced lockdowns in the state.

DIFFERENTLY-ABLED WANT EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) staged a protest outside the Madurai district collectorate stating that the government must ensure an equal-opportunity policy is implemented in both state-run and private companies.

Their other demands included legislation to provide 5% reservation in jobs in the private sector to people with disabilities and a monthly district level meeting to redress grievances.

PROTEST AGAINST HATSUN DAIRY

Employees of the popular Hatsun dairy company were targeted and punished for starting a trade union in Tamil Nadu. Opposing this anti-worker attitude of the administration, Hatsun employees held protests in various districts in Tamil Nadu on October 27.


Hatsun workers’ protest in Dharmapuri. Image courtesy: CITU Tamil Nadu

Hatsun Agro Product Ltd (HAP), is a leading dairy company in the state, which produces Arokya milk, Arun ice cream, Hatsun curd and other products. It recently reported a 25% increase in net profit for the second quarter of the year and has announced a Rs 450 crore investment to expand facilities and distribution.

FARMERS FEAR LOSING LAND TO INDUSTRY

In a desperate attempt to save their lands from being usurped for industrial projects, several farmers fell at the feet of the Coimbatore district Collector on October 20.

Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited (TIDCO) has proposed to acquire 3,800 acres in four revenue villages in two taluks in the district, of which 2,800 acres belong to small and medium-sized farmers.

STUDENTS GHERAO RAJ BHAWAN TO ‘BAN NEET’

Students’ Federation of India (SFI) mobilised students from various districts in Tamil Nadu to gherao the Raj Bhavan in Chennai on October 27 urging the Governor to swiftly forward the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) exemption bill passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly for the President’s assent.

The results for the exam held in September are likely to be announced in a few days, and ahead of that, another NEET aspirant died by suicide in Coimbatore district over a fear of failure in NEET.

Moreover, the Tamil Nadu Medical Council has refused to allow students who studied medicine in China and wrote online exams to complete their Compulsory Rotatory Residential Internship (CRRI) in the state. Students are also unable to return to China and complete their courses offline as COVID-19 restrictions persist.

DEMAND FOR ST CERTIFICATE

Under the leadership of the Tamil Nadu Tribals Association (TNTA), a protest was held on October 27 demanding community certificates for the people of the Konda Reddy community. Konda Reddy is a small tribal community in Tamil Nadu with a population of only 10,000 in Thiruvallur and Salem districts.

TNTA state secretary Saravanan said “there are some ill-intentioned people who are creating confusion saying that upper caste Reddy people are claiming the ST certificate, which is not the case. Due to this confusion, these tribal people are denied their rights.”

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