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When other parts of world shiver or burn, TN unfurls umbrellas

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CHENNAI: December is winter in many parts of the world while in Australia it is summer. It is only in Tamil Nadu where the north-east monsoon season extends from October to December each year.

“Not many countries get rainfall in December. It is biting winter or summer depending upon the continent in which you live. But it is only Tamil Nadu which receives rainfall and this year Chennai and nearby districts have received record rainfall,” said Skymet Weather chief meteorologist Mahesh Palawat.

Beyond Chennai, California and Caribbean islands are the ones which receive rainfall in December, but the intensity is less than what Chennai has experienced since the start of the month this year.

Chennai city is breaking all records with regard to rain at the end of 2015. In November, the city received record rain of 117.8cm which is higher than 108.8cm recorded in 1918. But on December 2, the city’s Nungambakkam observatory recorded 29.4cm of rainfall and Meenambakkam recorded 34.5cm of rainfall.

Chennai once again broke the record rainfall on a single day in December. According to Met department website, it was in 1901 when Chennai city recorded 261.10mm on December 10 but it has crossed that record on Tuesday. This comes after the city crossed its record rainfall set in 1918.

“This year the low pressure and troughs in the Bay of Bengal formed in south Andaman compared to central Bay last north-east monsoon. Due to this the systems in Bay moved in north-easterly direction and stationed in northern districts of Tamil Nadu bringing in more rainfall to Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur,” said Palawat.

The basic reason for excess rainfall is El Nino. “Many typhoons were formed in the Pacific Ocean this year due to the warming of the ocean. But the Indian Ocean is cool compared to the Pacific and the wind carried more moisture bringing in extreme rainfall,” said Palawat.

In 2013, south-west of United Kingdom received record rainfall during December following a low pressure. The area received 163mm of rainfall which was the highest since 1978. But Chennai city received even more rain this season in December.

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Source: TOI-Che

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When altruism turns into advertisement

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Without a doubt, the month-long downpour that deluged many parts of Tamil Nadu was unprecedented in the history of the state. Hundreds drowned, and several thousands were displaced or left marooned in upper floors of their houses by rising flood water.

With the state government announcing billions of rupees in losses, it may take months before normalcy is restored.

The biggest takeaway, however, from this unutterable tragedy is the equally ineffable show of solidarity and volunteerism by the people of Tamil Nadu that transcended every imaginable barrier. It was as if the whole society belonged to one community — the community of humanity.

If on one side, hundreds of philanthropic individuals and NGOs were heroically working along with the Army, Navy, NDRF, police and other state and central government agencies to rescue people, on the other side, temples, mosques, churches and gurudwaras were seen sheltering the rescued people, irrespective of their religion or caste. One of the outcomes of this was the amazing gesture of a Hindu lady who named her newborn baby after the Muslim man, Yunus, who saved her family from drowning.

But sadly the doughtiness and humanitarianism of such uncommon commoners and institutions (both religious and educational) went relatively unnoticed or reported late. The media spotlight was mostly on celebrity-donors, Facebook or WhatsApp users and the Twitterati. For most newspapers, heroic rescuers who risked their lives to save those of others but did not exploit the social media did not exist. This is not to question the genuineness of the contributions of the rich and famous benefactors. But perhaps they should have restricted the use of the social media to solicit or mobilise aid. To go beyond that (as some did) and post pictures and videos of themselves standing in front of, or distributing aid material was bad form. This could be easily misconstrued as seeking the reward of publicity for help rendered – a kind of exploitation of a calamity.

It must be understood that the joy of giving is best experienced from the shadows of anonymity. For advertising acts of kindness destroys their altruistic nature. And religions have cautioned against this. The Gita extols the virtues of ‘nishphala karma’ (disinterested action) wherein service to society is rendered without expecting any reward. The Quran accentuates the same idea in a very powerful chapter aptly named al-insaan (The Man). It describes compassionate people as those who feed the needy and the orphans saying, “We feed you for the sake of God alone. No reward do we expect from you, not even thanks!” (76:9). A narration in the hadees collection Sahih Muslim quotes the Prophet as saying that God loves the well-meaning rich person who serves society and yet “remains obscure and uncelebrated.”

Jesus warned his followers: “When you give to the needy, let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Mathew 6:3). Atheists, agnostics and humanists too consider self-promoting charity unethical. It is not too late to internalise this universal truth.

(A Faizur Rahman is the secretary general of the Islamic Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought. Email him on faizz@rocketmail.com or tweet to him: @FaizEngineer)

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Anna Univ exams from Dec 15-Jan 29

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CHENNAI: Anna University has announced that theory exams will be held from Dec 15 to Jan 29. Those who lost their educational certificates in the floods can apply for duplicates at special camps to be set up by the university in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Cuddalore.

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