Southern Notes: Tamil Nadu village roots for Kamala Harris

Thulasendrapuram, a village in TN has posters of Kamala Harris beaming at passers-by as villagers wait for the results of the US Presidential poll on November 3

Southern Notes: Tamil Nadu village roots for Kamala Harris

SS Kumar

TN village waits for US election

From Thulasendrapuram to America. Not much anyone can make of it, even if you are from Tamil Nadu. But if you’re from this little village, you know it. It has become famous, because one of its granddaughters, Kamala Harris, is US presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate; and should Biden unseat Donald Trump, will become the Vice President of the US.

To get back to Thulasendrapuram, anyone 20 km outside will be hard put to place the place, but it happens to be Kamala Harris’ grandfather’s native place. Let’s settle one thing first: it happens to be a rather unknown, now getting known, ‘lush, green’ village in TamilNadu’s Tiruvarur district, next to its illustrious neighbour, Thanjavur [erstwhile Tanjore] district, of rice bowl and Brihadeeshwara temple fame. Thulasendrapuram has posters of a smiling Kamala Harris beaming at passers-by as the election looms in the USA; a victory for the Indian-Jamaican Californian is sure to stir up local pride.

Ooty out of bounds

The Queen of the Hill Stations ... as Ooty is known... is still out of bounds for most tourists. Despite the Central government lifting curbs on travel, and Tamil Nadu following suit, Nilgiris district ... where Ooty lies... is still out of reach for non Nilgiri- residents. You can travel between most states; for instance, you can drive up from Delhi to Himachal Pradesh, passing through Haryana, Punjab and the central territory of Chandigarh with no hassles; but should you want to visit the Nilgiris, you need an e-pass [anyone remember them?. The bad news is that you get rejected most of the time.

Manusmriti kicks up a storm

The Hindutva brigade has risen up in outrage against Thol Thirumavalavan, the Dalit leader of the Viduthalai ChiruthaiKatchi [which translates as the Liberation Leopards Party] for his assertion that the venerable Manusmriti describes all women as prostitutes.

The book no doubt describes women in many verses in the most derogatory way, as many commentators have pointed out. It was to highlight this that BR Ambedkar burnt it publicly; even Mahatma Gandhi conceded its contradictory nature. But the zealots in the Hindu community have seized on it to condemn Thirumavalavan, who refused to back down and insisted that he was only quoting from Manusmriti. The latest entrant into the BJP, Khushbu Sundar, after stints in the Congress and DMK, accused him of ‘objectifying’ women.

The Chidambaram (SC) MP, against whom an FIR has been filed by a BJP functionary, has stood his ground, and announced statewide protests by his party to highlight the issue and work towards the ‘emancipation’ of women.

Insurance for Jagan Reddy

The focus on the Jaganmohan Reddy-NV Ramana issue may have shifted to Delhi, with the Chief Justice of India, Sharad Bobde sitting on the explosive letter from the Andhra Pradesh CM alleging improprieties, including interfering in the functioning of the AP High Court, by the judge who is slated to be the next CJI. But the matter is the subject of a lot of speculation in AP, with many seeing it as a playing out of the traditional Kamma [Naidu]-Reddy caste rivalry in the state, where the two are the dominant and landed castes.

Jagan, as his surname says, is a Reddy; Ramana is from the Kamma community, to which Chandrababu Naidu belongs; Jagan’s allegation is that Ramana is influencing the course of justice in favour of Naidu. Be that as it may, the letter has not gone down well with the legal fraternity in AP. It is a matter of record that CM Jagan is facing a slew of corruption cases and Justice Ramana had ordered the speeding up of the trial process; Is the letter sufficient insurance for Jagan is the question.

Kerala: Much ado about nothing?

Kerala is battling a surge in Coronavirus infections, and it seems everything else has taken a backseat, including the allegations swirling round Chief Minister’s ex-principal secretary M Sivasankar’s role in the gold smuggling racket.

Swapna Suresh, the main accused, has told the Enforcement Directorate that the CM, Pinarayi Vijayan, had no role in it and that she had only met him officially. It is now known that Sivasankar, as the IT Secretary of Kerala, made use of Swapna Suresh’s connections in the UAE to resolve issues with Kochi’s Smart City Project, where Dubai Holding has a major stake.

If the Enforcement Directorate’s interrogation reports are taken at face value, the Chief Minister was in no way involved, though his office may have been unwittingly used by way of Sivasankar’s proximity to Swapna Suresh. The saga is yet to play out, but it looks as if there is much less to it than meets the eyes.

Mysuru ‘Dasara’

Mysuru’s grand annual Dussehra celebration tradition began on October 17 and ended on October 27. But for the first time it was customized to meet corona compliance demands. The ‘jamboosavari’ with richly caparisoned elephants and colourful folk artistes, usually taken out over a 5km-stretch from the palace to the Bannimantap grounds, was curtailed to a short 500-m within the Palace grounds; the total number of people involved was capped at 300; that’s right, 300, including folk artistes, mahouts and let’s see… the people’s elected representatives, invitees and police.

The good people of Mysuru were not allowed into the palace grounds, but could watch the celebrations online

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