Saturday, February 25, 2006

Muthalalies go back

Is frequent usage of words like "Muthalaali", "Thozhilali" does any good to our state's interest? Aren't these words representations of attitudinal problems that is holding back our state's economy?

I feel pity on those "kutti muthalalies", who want to hear themselves being called this majestic title by their payed servents; and those employers who treat their employees without respect. No wonder! if those people were "Garaavo ed" by the local union dudes in town. I am not trying to justify the political union activities in kerala (I strongly oppose it), but it is important that keralites are aware of certain cultural problems that caused and still causing such resentment against employers, and should try to correct them.

Generally speaking, keralites are big-time Ego Maniacs (Within Kerala of cource) and therefore extra sensitive about every nitty-picky things that happen around them. Unfortunately, Ego clashes are extremely bad for business. No matter who is the real villain behind spoiling the labor-management relationship, it is up to the management to take up the burden of responsibility to concede and to introduce professional courtesy in the workplace. Professional courtesy can by achieved by narrowing the perceived gap between the management and the employee, treating employees like customers, using politically correct language etc.
In kerala, I don't think managements, at least the traditional once, are not proactive enough on being sensitive to their employees. Instead, they run away from their own responsibility by blaming the militant unionism ( which of cource deservs a part of the blame) for their failures. In Kerala, only those businesses which can build strong constructive relationship with its employees can cherish. It is in everybody's interest if the management recognizes this fact and work harder for achieving harmony in workplace... Words like 'Muthalalie', 'thozhilali' are counterproductive in this sense! These words carry so much luggage of antagonisms of the past..


silverine said...

I thought in Kerala, the Muthalalis are very respectful of employees especially those who want to keep their shops open :))

Babin said...

@silverline I guess that is true in most cases nowadays... Frequent Union intimidations haven't left them with any other option:) :((

But i have seen a few so called little muthalalies, especially in the farming sector, acting disrespectfully (repeatedly) to their daily laborers. Unfortunately, this kind of old-age mentality is still prevalent in part of the state..

I am sure for every rude muthalaalies, there are many more nice once out there.. but a few bad apples are enough to ruin any good name that kerala business owners have.

Mind Curry said...

i dont think its the muthalali-thozhilali attitude thats hurting kerala ( i would even say its lesser in kerala compared to other states). its basically the false prestige and ego of the men in kerala. they feel "small" when they work. there is nothing called "dignity of labor". so in effect, everyone wants to be a muthalali and nobody likes to work. its mainly because of the fabric of our hypocritic society.

Babin said...

Mind, I agree that there are much bigger problems behind kerala's labor troubles than this Muthalali, thozhilali cold war... the reason why I decided to blog about this is precisely because it is perceived as a relatively smaller devil and thus nobody pays much attention to it.

In a lot of ways this is an image issue. The image that these 'muthalalies' have in front of the masses is pretty pathetic. This is a result of both their own wrong doings and also because of the leftist propaganda. Adding to the negativism, lots of malayalam movies, plays (often leftist sponsored) that came out during 1970s,80s had this recurrent theme of Muthalali-Thozhilali, union struggles, almost always vilifying 'Muthalalies'. All this have contributed to a very negative sentiment against the muthalalies Aka rich Aka business owners and was in turn instrumental for fueling strong leftist mentality among the common man in the state. I remember arguments that I used to have with my friends during my childhood days, about who among us is the poorest, because being poor meant having more respect and sympathy from the group and being rich (relatively) meant the opposite.

Well, what I am trying to say(link) is that the strong leftist sentiment that our state is so (in)famous for, owes part of its existence to these demonized muthalalies ( for the right reasons and not).
For kerala to be business friendly from its heart, the images of the business owners have to drastically improve. Muthalalies need to do their own part, proactively.

ps: Hope this clarifies my viewpoint abou this.. I admit, i wasn't very clear on this in my first post.

Mind Curry said...

yes babin, you have a point i guess. our people are always worried about class, status and such even though they might not have either, but nonetheless try to "project" an image while their character remains pathetic.

Vinod/Kakka said...

I always wanted to make a movie where the ugly, rich guy is the hero, and the cute, poor guy is just after the heriones money.

Sreeram said...


Saw your blogspot only today. A good initiative. So there are many young people who would really like to see the face of Kerala undergo a trasnformation. That's good.

As rightly pointed our by some of you, it is the Industrial Relations in Kerala which is poor.
A good employee relations officer can definitely make a change. Employees should be treated well. Their right to form unions shouldn't be considered as militancy. Its a body to voice their concerns and it is legal too. What is needed is a relationship between the management and the unions built on trust which shouldn't be breached at any point. Employees should have a psychological stake in the organiastion. There should be a sense of ownership. Why do Japanese initiatives like Kaizen win. They empower the worker and give them a sense of ownership. So that's the key. Good Industrial Relations holds the key and would definitely make an impact leading to a spurt in industrialisation in Kerala.

Babin said...

@kakka, Mee too wish, at least once in a while such themes emerge in our art forms. In a lighter not, you are better of making a mega serial for the Maximum impact:)

@SreeRam, Thanks for checking out this blog and for your nice words.. You have raised some important points... I agree, disputes between employees and employers are natural. Kerala is just missing the professional or amicable way of handling this.
And Yea, We are decades behind the modern concepts of Industry-Labor relations; Still caught up in the old age antagonism BTW muthalali and thozhilali... As you said, the key is catching up to the new ways of thinking by both management and unions.

I know in industrialized countries like US, top universities have 4 yr long courses that prepares student to become professionals in handling union/management disputes.. These peoples' services are sought from both the management and the union whenever there is a new contract negotiation or dispute. I hope such professionals will come to kerala one day.. Demand for their services are super hot in kerala.

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