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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 8, august 1-15, 2009
Our Readers Write

The street dog menace

I think the street dog menace in Chennai typifies the hypocrisy of our city. The so-called animal lovers of our city can’t take care of  these mongrels; they can’t prevent the creatures from harassing pedestrians and passers-by, but they resist the simple, efficient, common-sense solution of liquidation of these unfortunate creatures.

Chennai’s street dogs are a far far cry from the Lassies and Beethovens and Dalmatians mythologised by Hollywood. Many of them are famished, sickly, old and obviously diseased. They scrounge in dustbins, and chase and bark at pedestrians and passing vehicles.

Worse, clannishness among street dogs is worse than that in human beings. Many street dogs don’t tolerate ‘outsider’ dogs, a few of which are pedigreed, and walked by their owners with a leash. The street dogs chase and howl and snarl at the pets, almost provoking them to break free from the leash and retaliate.

The ugly dogfights that result, with raucous snarls and howls filling the air, are hardly what senior citizens and other walkers need early morning or in the evening. Sometimes, passers-by end up getting bitten.

My request to doglovers is: If you don’t want these dogs eliminated in a quick and efficient manner, for their own good and that of society, why don’t you shelter them in your own homes, and lavish love and care on them to your hearts’ content?

It also intrigues me that animal lovers eat and enjoy meat, which means the slaughter of innocent animals – yet they ­profess love for all four-legged creatures.

S.R. Madhu
84/35, Beach Road, Kalakshetra Colony
Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090

Bird song 

I have come to Westford, close to Boston, MA, USA, on a vacation. It is a beautiful neighbourhood, calm and cool and the people are very friendly. The whole area appears to have been carved out of a hill adorned by a forest. The houses are lined up with a noticeable sense of discipline and the greenery around each house is a vast, sprawling carpet of sorts.

As I was taking a long walk on the designated pathway one fine evening after shaking off  jet lag, I was attracted to a notice on the eastern side of the road where the sylvan surroundings extended quite a distance. The legend read:


And the sweet chirping of the birds was sheer joy; it proclaimed loud and clear the unhindered ownership they enjoyed over the area for procreation. A few metres from the public notice on the far right, a neatly paved pathway and a wooden bridge led us to a beautiful pond full of water where again I heard the music of a  vast variety of birds.

This was just one instance of how conservation is managed in the US in an innovative, effective and committed way and there may be many examples in store for me when I travel through the new world in the next few months.

The point I am trying to make here is: Should we not make similar efforts in Chennai? We have effectively driven away the chittukuruvi, the typical little Indian sparrow, which poet Bharati glorified with his poem on the freedom it enjoyed. Should we lose the other species too?

There are areas in and around Chennai with a sizeable bird population where the conservation efforts can be undertaken on a large scale. Government should take the lead in organising the effort and NGOs will queue up to offer their support.

V. Thiruvengadam

Anticipating Jones

Further to Dr. A. Raman’s reference in his Literature on Madras (MM, June 16th) to Prof. Trautmann’s web-notes on language families, may I point out that, though Sir William Jones’ Calcutta discourse (1786) is said to be the first concept­ualisation of the Indo-European language family, there were at least two older missionary scholars who anticipated this philological connection much earlier? They also had, most probably, come to the conclusion independent of each other.  The first was Benjamin Schultze, a German and the pioneer Protestant missionary in Chennai.  He made this observation in a letter (August 23, 1726) to his patron, Prof. A. H. France at Halle (Germany). The second one was Fr. Gaston Coeurdoux, a French Jesuit missionary in Puducheri, who did so in a communication (1768) to his superior Abbe Barthelemy in Paris.

The British establishment no doubt preferred the credit to go to an Englishman.

Rev. Philip K. Mulley
CSI St. John’s Church
Mount Road, Coonoor 643 102

Elevated danger

Here are two more points with regards to the proposed new elevated road from Marina Beach to Kottivakkam (MM, July 1st) that need to be considered and safety ensured.

1. At nights, the road should not be mistaken as a runway by pilots.

2. The wind velocity will be more on the road, especially at points 10 to 18 metres height. Two wheelers and small size vehicles may face the likelihood of being toppled or carried away by the wind, leading to a series of accidents.

Prof. K. Sampath
Karthik Flats
27, Nallappan Street
Mylapore, Chennai 600 004

Columns appreciated

As a regular reader of Madras Musings, I must express my appreciation of the commendable work being done by Dr. A. Raman of Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, through his columns in the journal, ‘Literature on Madras’ and ‘Pages from History’. How he strikes a balance between his commitments and duties at CSU and his contributions to Madras Musings could be a study in  ‘Time Management’. The extensive research undertaken and material collected and presented can only be attributed to his genuine interest and commitment to areas other than science (though he is a botanist by training). We need more of his ilk with broader interests. Keep it up, Dr. Raman!

S. Ramakrishnan
2/30, Second Main Road
Indian Bank Colony
Ambattur, Chennai 600 053

My Loyola days

Recent letters about Loyola College bring back memories of my Intermediate days (1943 to 1945) and what a valuable interaction we had with our teachers!

First, Mr. Adivarahan, who taught us Mathematics. More than the subject, he inculcated in us the value of discipline. No one in the class would dare look here or there or outside the classroom when he was teaching. A master of the subject, he was very punctual and expected strict obedience. While dictating the steps to a solution, he would say, “With God-given eyes we see that AB=CD or whatever”, and we should write the sentence verbatim in our notebooks!

Fr. Murphy taught us Shakespeare. His method was to dramatise the entire play ­(Richard II), scene by scene. It made the whole thing not only interesting but simple.

Fr. Jerome D’Souza was the Principal and once or twice he took our English class when our professor was absent. A tall and venerable figure, he started one lesson thus: “Hence it is almost a definition that a gentleman is one who never inflicts pain” (a portion from Cardinal New­man’s Idea of a University). There was pin-drop silence in the Bertram Hall as everyone present wanted to hear more of that sonorous voice!

It is a great pity that I do not know how many of my classmates shaped in later life. But Tauro joined Indian Oil, Kripakar Reddy entered the civil services (IAS), and Prabhu (my senior) like me joined the Indian Navy.

Cdr. R. Ganapathi, i.n. (retd.)
116, Defence Colony
Chennai 600 032

Books of study

In  Dr. G. Sundaram’s letter on the books for special study by IAS aspirants (MM, July 1st), I am afraid the name of the author of the classic Political Philosophy was misspelt as Salbine. It should be Sabine. In fact, the celebrated author’s full name is George H Sabine. It was a textbook for my postgraduate studies in Philosophy back in 1955-58 at Annamalai University. It is at once a scholarly work and a highly readable book. You will find a dispassionate and delightful study of the various streams of political thought emerging from its pages – be it Hegel’s, Karl Marx’s or Schopen­hauer’s. Oswald Spen­gler’s Decline of the West comes in for a detailed study. You can see a brilliant analysis of the Oxford idealists headed by Thomas H Green punctuated with THG’s classic poser to the Marxists: “To an untaught underfed denizen of a London yard with gin shops on the right and on the left, of what avail is the statement ‘the State will actualise freedom’.”

28, Phase 2
Heritage Vijayendra Nagar
Perungudi, Chennai 600 096

Editor’s Note:

The Sabine ­error is, regrettably, ours; a compositor’s devil was at work.

In this issue

A host of events...
MRTS stations...
The Ashe murder...
The white peacock...
Historic residences...
Other stories in this issue...

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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