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President Pranab heads South with busy itinerary

By A Rediff Correspondent
July 18, 2014 09:06 IST
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President Pranab Mukherjee’s two-day tour of Kerala and Tamil Nadu begins on Friday.

The President has a busy itinerary with a variety of functions, including the academic events and a spiritual journey.

On Friday afternoon, he will be the chief guest at the first convocation of the Central University of Kerala at Kasaragod. The university, started in 2009 in the northern-most part of the state, is one of the 16 central universities established under the new the Central Universities Act, 2009.

Later in the day, President Mukherjee will inaugurate the platinum jubilee celebrations of the College of Engineering, Trivandrum. The prestigious college -- popularly known as CET -- was founded in 1939 by then King of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.

The visionary king allotted 125 acres for the institute that he built and nurtured. It is one of the best engineering colleges of India and gives admissions on professional merit only.

What makes President Mukherjee’s visit to the south Indian states interesting is the combination of engagements.

After attending two events at the institutions that teach modern education, on Saturday he will visit the celebrated Padmanabhaswami temple. The ancient temple is the wealthiest in India and highly-revered by lakhs of devotees who pray here round the year.

In 2011, valuables worth $20 billion were found in the temple’s secret chambers, which made global headlines.

In April 2014, Supreme advocate Gopal Subramaniam was appointed as Amicus Curiae to take stock of the ground situation. He gave a 577-page report that lambasted the temple administration for failing to keep the records clean and revealed malpractices.

The Supreme Court bench then requested change in administration and formed a 5-member committee to run the temple. It also appointed former CAG Vinod Rai as auditor.

However, the controversy has not dented the spiritual place the temple has in hearts of its devotees.

Later on Saturday, President Mukherjee will head to Tamil Nadu to inaugurate the golden jubilee celebrations of the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirapalli.

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A Rediff Correspondent in New Delhi