TAMIL NADU

Never running short of spirit

MADURAI, FEB. 26 . What the Samjhauta Express and Lahore bus had done to boost the confidence of people living on the Indo-Pak borders is great. Equally great is the mission, which two students of the Yadava College have undertaken to stress the need for maintaining cordiality between the rival countries.

They are on a goodwill run from Kanyakumari to Chennai. They started their 750-km run at Kanyakumari on February 20, praying for a solution to the tangle between India and Pakistan and an end to religious extremism. The duo, on their route, reached their home city on Tuesday. They have planned to end the journey in Chennai on March 6.

The urge in A. Vellairaja of III B.Sc. Information Technology and K. Kathiresan, II B. Com., to do something for the society was spotted by G. Thiruvasagam, principal of the college. "We planned this mission a year ago. Ours is a peace-loving country. It was our great leaders who showed the world how a mission could be accomplished through `ahimsa'. Hence, we thought of running for a social cause. As we suggested this idea to our Director of Physical Education, T. Baskar Rajendran, and the principal, they supported us," Mr. Vellairaja said.

"We chose Gandhi Mandapam in Kanyakumari as the starting point, because it was the place where Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda'', Mr. Kathiresan said.

On an average they run 50 or 60 km per day for almost nine hours. "We start by 5.30 a.m. and wherever we find shade, we make a brief stopover to have light refreshments. On the first day, we reached Valliyoor and the next day we halted at Tirunelveli. After touching Kovilpatti and Virudhunagar, we arrived at Madurai on February 24," Mr. Vellairaja said. They have planned to have February 28 as a rest day to get themselves recharged. The whole programme is sponsored by the Yadava College. "The college has sponsored all expenses. Without its encouragement our mission would not have been possible," Mr. Vellairaja said.

"These boys stand as role models. It is their sense of social responsibility, which overwhelmed us. The day they came to me for permission, I offered my whole-hearted support. The student community should be aware of the prevailing international political climate. It is a good sign," said Dr. Thiruvasagam.

Mr.Velliaraja was quite optimistic when he queried, "if students cannot take such a positive approach, who else will."