The Madras High court has allowed the Tamil Nadu government to erect banners to welcome the President of China Xi Jinping during his visit to Mamallapuram for an informal meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi next weekend. With the court coming down heavily on the government after techie Subasri was killed after an illegal banner fell on her, the government decided to get the court’s permission.
The court has told the government that pedestrians should not be put to inconvenience. In fact, the court seemed rather unhappy at having been drawn into the issue saying it had restrained only political parties, suggesting that the government need not have approached it in the first place for permission.
But the order raises disturbing questions. Who in the government is to regulate the government how many banners they erect from Chennai airport to Mamallapuram? Who in the government will take responsibility to ensure their banners are absolutely safe and do not put anyone to inconvenience? Who in the government is to ensure no politicians of the ruling party slip in their banners in the guise of the government?
As the court asked, when such banners are not the norm in Delhi where a dignitary visits every other day, why should Tamil Nadu be an exception? The problem with Tamil Nadu is this larger-than-life culture, trying to make leaders into demi-gods by making them tower over the public.
The rule should have been for everyone in order to eliminate the banner culture from Tamil Nadu – government, political parties, film stars, just about everyone. Tomorrow, how would the court react if the Film Federation association wants to erect banners and cutouts. All said and done, it can argue that like the government of Tamil Nadu, it also is a responsible body.
Also if the government of Tamil Nadu now wants to erect the banners, why did it seize and shut the shop of Shanmugha printers that had printed the banner that caused Subasri’s death. The same authorities will now go to printers to get material printed to be displayed along the route.
Maybe the government of Tamil Nadu should also consider deploying ambulances along the route in order to ensure rushing any citizen to hospital, if something untoward happens.
Categories: Tamil Nadu