Chempakaraman Pillai

Print edition : October 23, 2009

IN Kerala, SMS Emdens attack on Madras is considered an event that was a very early part of our independence struggle (Guns of Emden, September 25). Professor A. Sreedhara Menon, in his book Keralavum Swathanthriya Samaravum, briefly describes the assault:

When the First World War began in 1914, Chempakaraman Pillai, a Tamil from Thiruvananthapuram, formed the Indian Independence Committee in Germany along with some revolutionaries from India. He joined Emden as an officer and masterminded the attack on Madras mainly aimed at the British navy. It is said that he even went ashore and interacted with the locals before returning to the ship.

Dr. P.N. Chopra in his book Indias Struggle for Freedom also mentions Pillais contributions to the movement. Older Keralites used to use the epithet Emden to mean a person with pluck and shrewdness.

R.S. Pillai Kollam, Kerala Encounter deaths

FAKE encounters targeting a community will result in bad blood (Cover Story, October 9). Almost every encounter is fake because politicians in power continue to use the police for their benefit, and Narendra Modi is no exception.

Such encounters have spread like a virus right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, with far-reaching effects. It is imperative that a multidimensional approach is devised so that the police follow procedures instead of blindly killing suspects in cold blood without verifying the facts.

K.R. Srinivasan Secunderabad

IT is surprising that the same day that Magistrate S.P. Tamang was asked to probe the deaths of Ishrat Jahan and three others the High Court set up a Special Investigation Team to conduct a similar inquiry. While the SIT was still at its job, Tamang completed his report with amazing speed. The political reaction to Tamangs claim is predictable, with the Congress seeking to gain political mileage out of it.

J.S. Acharya Hyderabad

THE Ishrat Jahan case has drawn attention to what is going on in the country in the name of encounter killings. State governments support those in uniform because of vested interests. The Tamang inquiry report proves that Ishrat Jahan and those with her were killed in a fake encounter. Now everyone is looking to the courts for justice and for guidelines to prevent such killings. All past cases should be investigated to bring the guilty to book.

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram Vijaynagar

THE article Prisoners of geography (October 9) is an account of a peoples bravery and courage. The service rendered by the Indian Air Force, the Assam Rifles and other agencies of the Government of India in sustaining the small population of Vijaynagar, Arunachal Pradesh, is laudable. Congratulations must also be given to the doctor mentioned in the account.

M.N. Abhijith Palakkad, Kerala

THE article has done a great job of taking readers to the eastern frontier of India, which has been neglected over the years.

It also shows that scarcity of goods in life makes people fight harder to adapt to the environment and to sustain their livelihoods.

Nikita Bothra New Delhi

THE article explored the troubles of the region well. When there is scarcity of food and other essential supplies in a region, is it not a denial of human rights? The Government of India should arrange proper communication facilities.

A.R. Viswanathan Chennai Hindutva

WHY does A.G. Noorani always target Narendra Modi (BJPs democracy deficit, October 9)? He should also write about the development that has taken place in Gujarat.

Santosh Motiram Patil Nandurbar, Maharashtra

AFTER tasting the fruits of power at the Centre, the so-called supporters of Hindutva have not reconciled to sitting in Opposition (Divided family, September 25). Their recent acts of vandalising the places of worship belonging to minority communities to regain power are self-explanatory. This is a high-tech age, and if Hindutva supporters do not update their ideologies in such a way so as to meet modern needs, their dream of regaining power will never materialise.

Ramesh Kotian Udipi, Karnataka

THIS refers to the interviews with D.R. Goyal and Rajnath Singh (September 25). In the political world today it is all about individualism, ego clashes, ignominious brawls and the blame game. One of the countrys leading parties backs minorities for vote banks and the other harps on its religious ideology. Everyone seems to forget conveniently that there are more serious issues that demand attention.

Aprajita Pandey Vellore, Tamil Nadu Cinema

I ENJOYED reading the article Perfect weave and the interview with Prakash Raj (October 9). It is unfortunate that a complete art form like cinema with its mass appeal is yet to be put to its optimum use in India.

A balance should be struck between commercial and art movies, otherwise the silver screen will turn into an arena for the display of outlandish acrobatics and cheap sentimentality devoid of human sensibilities and problems.

Amiya Kumar Patra Sambalpur, Orissa Safire

I HAD just finished reading Bending the Curve (October 9) when I found out that William Safire passed away on September 27. I shall miss his column, which enriched my knowledge of English.

A.K. Dasgupta Hyderabad Mining

ORISSA, a State that has one of the richest deposits of minerals in India, is also amongst the poorest, thanks to the rapacious greed and heartlessness of the powers that be (Drain of wealth, September 25). Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should deal with corruption in his State as it is robbing it of its revenue and perpetuating poverty and misery.

Dilip Mahanty Sydney, Australia The judiciary

JUSTICE S. Ravindra Bhatt of the Delhi High Court deserves to be complimented for his historic judgment upholding the Central Information Commissions verdict about the Chief Justice of India coming under the purview of the Right to Information Act (Supreme, but not infallible, September 25). He has upheld the dignity of a fair and independent judiciary even though he had to differ from the CJI on the interpretation of the concept of transparency. The RTI Act is a necessity, especially for the administrative side of the judicial system, because the judiciary is the only wing of government that is accountable to no one. Judicial independence must not be allowed to turn into judicial dictatorship.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal Delhi

THE higher judiciary is held in esteem for its integrity, so the stubborn resistance on the part of a section of the judges to subject themselves to public accountability casts a shadow of doubt on them. The fear expressed in judicial circles that allegations against a judge would compromise his/her ability to decide cases fearlessly is unjustified if the judge is honest in his/her dealings. Members of the bureaucracy, particularly those discharging their functions fearlessly, often have to face wild allegations, but they stand up to them. Why then should judges be afraid, especially since they are armed with the law of contempt, which is not available to others?

T.V. Unnikrishnan Bangalore Moon mission

THE launch of Chandrayaan-1 was a shining chapter in Indias space programme, and the missions premature death is a jolt to it (Mission lost, September 25). In the name of success ISRO should not hide the setbacks of the mission.

Pranav New Delhi Nuclear issues

IT is naive to say that we do not need fusion bombs (H-bomb or a fizzle, September 25). In realpolitik, platitudes do not matter. We need thermonuclear bombs to deter hostile nations from annexing Indian territory. If Pokhran-II was a failure, we should carry out a few more tests.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, Kerala

THE real question is whether India needs another test even if the Pokhran test was not successful. The answer is no. Because to ensure credible minimum deterrence, even a fission device is sufficient. This controversy will help the government ward off international pressure to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Ankur Garg Chandausi, U.P. Emden

AS a child I used to wonder what my grandfather meant when he used the nickname Emden for a clever but hideous young man (Guns of Emden, September 25). Now, after decades, I learnt from your article that the word found its way into Tamil vocabulary. I would say not only Tamil vocabulary but Malayalams too.

K. John Mammen Thiruvananthapuram

THE story of Emden is incomplete unless one important hero and inmate of the ship is mentioned: the revolutionary Jai Hind Chempakaraman, who coined the fiery slogan Jai Hind.

He fled to Germany and sought the Kaisers help to liberate India from Britains clutches. He soon became an adviser to the Kaiser. There he started the Indian Independence Committee and Indian National Volunteers Corps, which, during the Second World War, inspired Subash Chandra Boses INA. It was at Chempakaramans behest that Emden neared Madras harbour, where he got off the ship. On July 17, 2008, his statue was unveiled at the Gandhi Mandapam in Chennai by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

K. Ravindran Salem, Tamil Nadu Robert Ashe

THE article gives facts on Robert Ashe, who was loyal to his superiors and loved by Indians to some extent (An Irish link, September 25). Vanchi Aiyar, Ashes killer, is considered a patriot to this day, but he stained the concept of ahimsa. Those who study history must decide whether Vanchis act was a crime, a sin or a courageous attempt to save the prestige and dignity of the nation. All the photographs included in the article are treasures from the archives.

B.P. Pereira Madurai, Tamil Nadu U.S. policy

RULE The World is the perennial foreign policy of the U.S. (Confronting an evil past, September 25). The War on Terror is the latest version of this policy. The growth of Third World countries, the rise of left-of-centre politics in South America and the peaceful coexistence of European countries are the main reasons for this version. In the post-Cold War scenario, every country deals differently with different countries, but for the U.S. the war on terror is like a panacea for all countries.

Pankaj Hajra Burdwan, West Bengal WTO

THE Commerce Minister of India and his team must read the article Brazils victory (September 25). The untold misery wrought on Indias farmers thanks to incompatible WTO guidelines ought to be reversed. Unfortunately, our policymakers have succumbed to the forces of globalisation. It is time that India made a strong demand at the WTO talks so that a level playing field is enforced across the globe vis-a-vis the subsidies given to farmers.

Syed Sultan Mohiddin Kadapa, A.P. Birds of Kerala

THE article Fallen from the nest (September 25) reminded me of a story involving Professor K.K. Neelakantan, otherwise known as Keralas own Salim Ali. He used to frequent Arippa, one of the few remaining patches of forest land with a high avian density.

The black woodpecker used to nest for ages, in the 1960s and 1970s, in a towering matti tree there. Neelakantan is said to have spent hours around this tree whenever he came to Arippa. Though the tree is still alive, no black woodpecker pair has been seen nesting in the tree for at least a decade.

K.B. Sanjayan Thiruvananthapuram Highgate

THE article A walk through Highgate Cemetery (April 10) mentioned the name of my great-grandfather Edward Richard Woodham. As a result I was inspired to arrange for details about him, along with a photograph of his grave, to be added to Wikipedia. Many thanks for the inspiration.

Michael Julien Surrey, U.K.

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