Ad Here  
Brick gets pricked Of mercy petition and mercy killing Noise on Social Networks Lovely Banking experience The death of cash Greater than the greatest ? Culture of suave, gentle and British becoming extinct... The future is here Educational shame Throwing ink is fine 500/500 The case of the suspicious husband Britain lobs a bomb. But it won’t explode. Sehwag...No soft edges Why we get a compromised deal End of the world and the moving finger... Nitish swords Modi Privatise the Railways Rajiv killers escape the gallows The return of the muffler man Modi sells a Dream? Editor unplugged Being taken for a ride The flawed “Pakistan policy” A judgment that shocked a nation’s conscience Cracking the CA code The car dealer and the cabbie stories… The curious case of the missing maid Walking into the sunset Bleeding Blue What a judgment Sir-ji The right to reject the lost generation... The KING is a fugitive People vs. Collins The other side of the Olympic divide A ride around the city Two leaves merged? Two more for Modi FITTING farewell The fight along the border A troubled fortnight Flight into danger Odd-Even Plan From Gungi Gudiya to Iron Lady Of discrimination and rights Resolving disputes: Scotland, Ajit, Dhoni The broken window PM Watch Psephologists fail the wisdom of crowds The wily old fox The loser is … CRICKET Waylaid on the National Highway RaGa bowls a decent over WAR-MONGERING and a national pastime
FITTING farewell

The president, the prime minister, the vice-president of the principal opposition party, chief ministers of seven states, cabinet ministers: they all were there to pay their final respects to the departed leader. J Jayalalithaa – loved, hated, liked, adored, admired, feared all in equal measure while she was alive – received the kind of farewell that not many in recent memory have got. 

There were several standouts in the funeral. 

First was the size of the turnout.  Massive is the only word for it. Men and women of all hue lined up there. Contrast it with the few thousands who turned out for the Mufti’s funeral a few months ago. Next the chief minister was buried, not cremated, in a stark departure from Brahmin custom. And then Sasikala Natarajan led Deepak Jayakumar in performing the final rites. In Hindu customs, women do not perform final rites.

But these are not what surprised me. What surprised me and pleasantly so, was the remarkable efficiency of the government of Tamil Nadu and the extraordinary decorum with which the people of the state conducted themselves, in the funeral.  Not a single untoward incidence of any consequence. There was no wailing, no breast beating and no hair tearing. 

I think three things that they did went right. This should become cop book practice for future when a leader with mass appeal departs. 

One, the decision to announce the death in the middle of the night. It came at a time when offices weren’t working and people weren’t on the roads. There could therefore be no disruptions. A couple of hours earlier the crowd in front of Apollo had been quietly dispersed. Two, withdrawing the bus transport service across the state. This meant that every Rama, every Krishna and every Govinda wouldn’t be turning up at the funeral. To that extent the crowd would be less and manageable. The fact that streams of people queued up despite this only proves the correctness of the administration’s judgment. Three, was the decision not to keep the body for multiple days and finish performing the last rites the same day. A masterstroke, indeed. It meant that the chief minister’s body would be gone within 18 hours of her death.   The longer it stayed, the more would have been the chances of unrest. 

She was no ordinary leader

The decorum with which the entire process went through, apart from being a tribute to the foresight and execution skill of the administration, also perhaps shows a certain maturity of mind on the part of the public. After all, whether you liked her or not, she was no ordinary leader. She was a mass leader in the MGR mould. And people south of the Vindhyas are known to be emotional when it comes to politics.  I guess the 75 days long hiatus at the corporate hospital had also prepared the people for any eventuality.

Stalin’s glowing tribute to her was an indication that even in a politically hostile state where rival party men are considered enemies, there was scope to show dignity and grace in a moment of deep sorrow.  One wishes that this display of maturity and grace should continue into day-to-day politics as well.

The transition of power has so far been smooth. There was a genuine fear that power struggle will be on full display letting opportunists step in with vulgar display of power. Thankfully, it has not happened. The one sour point in the entire episode has been how the medical health of the chief minister was so jealously guarded and kept away from the public who had elected her. While one does appreciate the fact that the private health of a public figure is her private business, this cannot hold good when it interferes with the functioning of the state. And in that sadly, the courts too failed.

Jayalalithaa did have her faults. But for a lonely woman to have waded through movies and then politics and to have dominated both so spectacularly when she was actually academically inclined, is a tribute to her sheer drive to succeed. The court judgment on her corruption cases will now be left unheard and we may not hear more of it. 

Author :
Reported On :
Sector :
IE, the business magazine from south was launched in 1968 and pioneered business journalism in south. Through the 45 years IE has been focusing on well-presented and well-researched articles. When giants in the industry stumbled to keep pace with the digital revolution, IE stayed affixed embracing technology.
Read more
Economist Communications Ltd is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected.
Read more
You agree that your use of this Website and the purchase of the magazine will be governed by these terms and conditions.
Read more
S-15, Industrial Estate,
Chennai - 600 032.
PHONE: +91 44 22501236