We set off for Chennai early this morning at 6 am. Though there were no breakdowns of the bus (thankfully! For now, the replaced tyres seem to be holding up), progress was very slow. For one thing, we did not get to pay the road taxes as soon as we entered Tamil Nadu on the Hosur Road. By now, it looks like these RTO checkposts at the border are designed to be invisible so that vehicles that go in unawares could be caught later and penalized.
We searched and finally located an appropriate checkpost in Tamil Nadu and paid the taxes – all of this delayed us quite a bit. However, the bonus was in the form of a RTO official donating one thousand rupees to the Yatra, moved by the cause.
We reached Chennai just on time for the press conference and public meeting in Dr CND School in T Nagar. We had women drummers from Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective welcome us with their music – one more first in the Yatra so far. The garlands by which the Yatris were welcomed were also unique – pretty garlands of vegetables strung together.
The public meeting was attended by eminent personalities from Tamil Nadu: Dr.Deivanayagam, Dr.Sultan Ismail, Actor Revathy, Dr Nammalvar, Thiru Duraimanickam, Dr. Vasanthi Devi and others.
Speakers emphasized that the Kisan Swaraj Yatra is not just about farmers but about saving the nation itself from another round of subjugation through corporate takeover of our food and farming. They heartily extended their solidarity to the cause. They questioned the government’s notion of development and exhorted farmers and consumers to opt for organic farming/produce.
The highlight was the moving slogan-shouting by a little boy at the end of the meeting: “Monsanto, Atyachar band karo” was his new slogan to everyone.
The day ended with an organic, millet-based dinner sponsored by the not-for-profit organic outlet in Chennai, ReStore.