Reason for refusal was that there was “no special occasion or milestone” for issuing coins

The 131st birth anniversary of ‘Mahakavi’ Subramania Bharathi is to be celebrated on December 11. But a fortnight before it, the Centre refused to issue commemorative coins in his honour. The reason given for the refusal was that there was “no special occasion or milestone” for issuing such coins.

Responding to a plea made by the Madurai-based Bharathiyar Thinkers Forum (BTF) on August 30, the Department of Economic Affairs under the Union Ministry of Finance conveyed its “inability to accede to the request” after examining it in detail. Pankaj Gupta, Under Secretary (Security Printing and Minting Corporation), communicated the decision by a letter dated November 26.

The BTF had requested for minting of ‘proof coins’ (coins of the highest quality having first rate mirror finish) and uncirculated coins in the denomination of Rs.100 and Rs.5 as had been issued in the case of former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai and former President Rajendra Prasad. While a set of these proof coins costs Rs.2,740, the uncirculated coin set is priced at Rs.2,310.

“The Centre should have voluntarily minted commemorative coins for Bharathiyar during his centenary in 1982. Now, it is ironical that the government is refusing to do it despite our insistence. When coins in the denomination of Rs.150 and Rs.5 had been minted in honour of Rabindranath Tagore, why not for Bharathiyar?,” questioned BTF secretary R. Lakshminarayanan.

Recalling the association Bharathiyar had with Madurai and his tenure as a teacher at Sethupathi Higher Secondary School on North Veli Street here, he said the people here should fight for upholding the honour of the national poet. He also claimed that the Railway Board had demanded payment of tariff for operating a special exhibition train on Bharathiyar’s achievements.

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