Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is the trade "Fair" ??

Been to the Trade Fair last Sunday....

The whole Chennai was up and alive there.... If you think most of the Chennai crowd hangs around on Marina, City Center, Satyam, Spencer's, Ranganathan Street, Pondy Bazaar or Mylapore... you are wrong.

It’s been many years since I went there. I think I had been there somewhere in early 90’s. Nothing has changed through the times for this Trade Fair at Island Grounds...

The two wheeler parking was full and packed. Lengthy queues for entry tickets. I could see people celebrating such an event, with family and friends, with their shopping bags in hand and refreshing themselves with Karumbu juice or some snacks.

A huge arch welcomes you to the “34th India Tourist and Industrial Fair”. Once you enter inside and walk through along the side of the parking lot there’s another entry point with counters for buying entry ticket.

A huge hoarding is displayed there against Child Labor which gives a good impression. With lakhs of people visiting everyday, such message will surely reach the masses to provide awareness.

Before you could be happy, there comes the first stall in front of which there is a petty shop selling some plastic goods. The seller is … an young boy. What a contrast!!

Next comes a “small watch kadai” selling watches with “Discound Sale” (watch the spelling!). Again…. It’s another young boy. Donno whether he is within the age limit of Child labor. But am sure he may not be the owner of the shop or his son. Is it a Fair Trade at the Trade Fair???

There are some good entertainments like Ghost Show, Mickey mouse show, Magic show etc., which children enjoy a lot.

Just walk through… you find a petty shop again… selling everything including Gutkha, Pan Parag, Hans and what not….

Knowingly, one can’t miss out the big Appalam with Chilly Powder and the great Molaga Bajji in the Trade Fair. There are couple of shops selling hot hot Appalams and Molaga Bajjis. A Feast, indeed.

Entire place gets illuminated when the sunset starts. It was just great to see the Coovum passing by, on which a small bridge is done up for people to walk on. What a sight! Imagining what would the Coovum be thinking of the people who spoiled it.

Good to see people totally forgotten their worries and enjoying the rides on Giant wheel and other things.

There are some good stalls and displays by various Government departments. Well done and explaining about the various activities of the Government.


Department of Industries

HR & CE (There's a huge board explaining the 19 months achievements of the present Govt)

Rural Development

Department of Police

Reserve Bank of India

Hey don’t miss that mini 'Chicku Bukku Rayilu' to go around the island ground.

Good & economical entertainer for a family outing!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Election Commission 750 A.D

Street Campaigns… Public meetings… Manifestos (Manipulatos rather!?), Rally… Hoardings… Crores of Rupees… Freebies, Goondas… Rivalry… Booth Capture… Biryani Potlams… Bit notice… Liquor supply…

If these are what you experienced in today’s election scenario, here’s a look at how election systems and rules were constituted and implemented as early as 1250 years ago. Not somewhere in Washington or New York or London, but here in Uthiramerur, a small village, just 85 kms from Chennai.

Uthiramerur, which was under Thondai Naadu territory, today stands testimony to our culture and heritage.

Many sculptures and stone inscriptions are seen here in this place on Sri Sundara Varadhar Temple as well as Lord Shiva temple which is situated near the Bus Stand.

Along the walls of this Shiva Temple, many inscriptions were found which belongs to early centuries. It is now preserved by Archeological Society of India.

According to historians and inscriptions the election (Ballot) system followed here is the fore-runner of today’s election systems in India. These inscriptions have been placed on stone as records, during the reign of Parantaka Chola 1 on the 14th year and 16th day of his tenure.

As per the inscriptions, a huge mud pot (Kudam) would be placed at an important location of the town or village, which will serve as the ballot box. The voters have to write the name of their desired candidate on the palm leaf (Panai Olai) and drop it in the pot. End of which, the leaves would be taken out from the pot and counted candidate wise. Whoever gets the highest number of votes would be selected as the member of village assembly.

This was called as Kudavolai (குடவோலை) system of elections by the people. Kudam means Pot and Olai means leaf in Tamil. The elections were held fair and free with strict terms conditions.

Uthiramerur inscriptions also reveal the conditions for eligibility to contest the elections. The conditions laid by them over 1200 years back (in the pic below) shows how transparent and fair the elections were held.

Contents of the above pic translated :

Eligibility criteria for Candidates:

  • He should own at least Kaal Veli land (Kaal means Quarter and Veli is the unit measured for lands those days)

  • He should live on his own land (means own house)

  • Should be over 35 years of age and below 70

  • Should have mastered in Vedhas and basic studies

  • Shouldn’t have possessed the same position in the past 3 years
  • He, who hasn’t shown his income to Government during his tenure

  • If one has been proved corrupt during his tenure, he, his family members and even his blood relatives cannot contest elections for next 7 generations

  • He, who hasn’t paid taxes

  • Who has extra marital affairs with married women

  • Murderers, Liars, Drunkards

  • Who swindled other’s money in the past

  • He who eats the uneatable by humans

It also says that the tenure is only of 360 days (1 year, those days), after which he will have to voluntarily withdraw from the capacity. If he is found guilty during the tenure, he will be removed by force.

These inscriptions not only showcase the brilliance of our ancestors in administration and politics but also show the world how a public servant should be in his personal and social life.

A 10th Century record also reveals how the fines imposed on the wrong doers of the village were administered. Those who were fined for wrong deeds were called “Dhushtargal” (means criminals). The fines were imposed on them by the village assembly and the sitting elected members.

The assembly also decides that the said fines imposed should be collected from the “Dhushtargal” and settled by the village administrators through the assembly, within the same financial year, failing which the assembly would interfere and get the matter settled.

Delayed payment of penalties also had late fees attached to them. What a judiciary? That too 1000 years back?

It also clearly states that, even the elected members of village assembly cannot escape fines or punishment, using their powers. They will be dealt severely if found guilty.

There are many more such inscriptions talking about testing of gold and its quality for trading. It seems there was a 10 member committee in every territory for gold testing and certifying for trading etc. Once in 3 months the members of gold committee have to appear in front of the assembly and swear in open that they did not commit any fraud while testing. They were ready to sacrifice their lives than breaking their sworn statements.

Similarly there were committees like Tank committee (for water storage and distribution), Field committee, Garden committee etc., under the governance of Annual Administrative committee.

Those who framed the above laws, weren’t from any college or they didn’t graduate in Sociology or Political administration.

Watch out beloved Vattams, Vattaaram, MLAs, MPs and Ministers of today!!!

Are you ready for such an election or administration????

(Sources: Uthiramerur inscriptions & The Hindu)