Monday, August 25, 2008

Kerala This Week, Ver 2.03, 2008

So last week we had the 82nd hartal in 2008 (remember we are only in August), thanks to "issues" such as inflation and other central government policies. On television, the hartal supporters from Kerala went on record to say that they were not sure what it was for. A few citizens guessed it must be against the "textbook", while expressing their ire against the frequent strikes disrupting their lives and livelihood.

The day after the strike, the media went on to report about how it paralyzed the state. Mind you, life in most of the other states went on just like any other day and hardly anyone even realized there was a hartal call in Delhi or Bangalore. Some of the media, while campaigning against hartals and strikes, do give adequate coverage to these political shows, giving them adequate publicity and mileage, and encouragement to continue with their gimmick. What with every political party running their own TV channel and newspaper/ magazine. And the average person here is jobless enough to view/read through the bull they air/write.

Most papers reported how some of the ministers from the state either "walked" or "rode on bikes" to reach their destination. They however forgot to mention that there were 2 police jeeps in front of the bike, and 3 behind, for "safety".

Most of the dailies also reported a particular story about how a mother whose child was admitted in the hospital could not travel to the child, and how the child died without the mother around. Pictures of the wailing mother were really heartbreaking, and so ironic when the papers carried pictures of politicians gleeing in joy since their hartal was a big "success".

Cornered, some of the politicians were asked what answer they have to give the grieving mother. One of them said that the mothers picture and "story" was just American Imperialism in action and that such people are out to undermine the "system". I have heard about heartless politicians, but these must be the cruellest and most venemous species ever.

Strike day also saw another regular but really worrisome feature in the state: Police becoming mute spectators. When the police tried to arrest a hartal mongerer who threw stones and damaged vehicles in the capital city, a bunch of protesters forcefully released the guy from the police jeep - that too in front of a larger number of cops. This is a regular thing in Kerala now, and I dont think anyone from any political party is in jail since they have all been released or acquitted by the government and their dutiful cops. For the amnesics, here is a recap of recent events (as reported by the press):

"The activists, who turned on the journalists covering their march to back the state government over a textbook row, were released last night after police pressed trivial charges against them"

"..Police and Student Federation activists clashed in front of the Armed Reserve Camp at Nandavanam on Wednesday evening. The violence occured ..when 32 activists, detained at the camp, attempted to escape from police custody. The trouble broke out when leaders led by the Mayor, and their district secretary, arrived at the camp gate and demanded that they be allowed to see the detained students." (The result? : the activists alleged that the police had `brutalised' the detained students and a police constable attached to the Nandavanam Armed Reserve camp, has been placed under suspension pending inquiry)

"The police have registered a case against district panchayat president, four others and 35 party workers for forcibly releasing a person who was taken into custody on charges of attacking a police personnel"

"Activists allegedly assaulted KSU state general secretary Ranjith Abraham in Kottayam. Ranjith, returning home after a KSU programme, was waylaid and hit on the head with an iron rod"

"During an party-sponsored agitation in Pathanamthitta recently, police took a district-level leader into custody. Activists stormed the police station and got their leader released."

"A leader of the ABVP, the student wing of the BJP, was attacked at Guruvayoor’s Sri Krishna College earlier this year after he defeated another party leader in the college union election. He was severely injured in one eye and had to be hospitalised."

I remember someone asking, why this blog was titled "Dog's Own Country"? Hope they are reading this post.

Onto something positive (on request!): Union Defence Minister and the State Industries Minister seem to be showing some success in rising about petty politics and bringing in investments to the state. After the Brahmos deal in Trivandrum, they worked together on another defence project in Kasargod. Kudos to them for whatever the deals are worth for the people of Kerala.

Kerala participated in the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, literally. The papers were replete with the news of the event at the "pakshi-koodu stay-d-yum". I couldnt help laughing at that. But my laughter turned to tears when I heard the title track of the hindi movie "God Tussi Great Ho" which goes " Gaaadu" "Gaadu". Quite sickening, even without seeing the movie and realizing how they have ruined 'Bruce Almighty'!


silverine said...

I was in Kochi for the I Day weekend. Amongst the numerous gold hoardings, were equally colorful hoardings of various strikes. I was staying at my doctor uncles place, and he had a visitor at 6 am on Sunday, just when we were leaving for a wedding. Uncle had to look into him as he was a CPI or CPI M party worker. Thats the power they wield. So I don't see people giving up the cushy lifestyle to soon.

Nikhil Narayanan said...

"One of them said that the mothers picture and "story" was just American Imperialism in action and that such people are out to undermine the "system". I have heard about heartless politicians, but these must be the cruellest and most venemous species ever."
I too read this.Its not the venomous politicians, its the dumbest and most insensitive of the lot.

DD said...

Man, the situation is getting worse by the day. I am actually rethinking on whether I should settle in my hometown Trivandrum after having been away from Kerala for like 5 years now...this is really a very bad state of affairs

Madhavan said...

@mc- Excellent piece of reflective writing.@dd-the present administration and political situation in Kerala is worse than Zimbawe under Mugawe!Only the corrupt & connected can thrive in Kerala. Hard working independent people without political godfathers are forced to flee the state!Powershortage, water scarcity, rotten roads and Hartals have made life in Kerala Hell.Joining the "Quit Kerala Movement" seems to be the best way of salvation at present!

Anonymous said...

The passing away of the infant was long anticipated; the Bandh had nothing to do with it. The mother's not being able to rush back was unfortunate; but in Kerala, such delay could have happened on any other day also, due to any number of silly causes including a text book-agitation morcha or train picketing by the UDF. That the CM and the DGP rose to the occasion is unfortunately not being highlighted. Why did the other passengers in the Waiting Room including rich NRKs omit to do anything at all? Lucky that the affected happened to be Christians from Manorama territory!

What can we expect from the LDF in Bandh matters when the Opposition is so ridiculous as to call for Bandhs even against Chikun guniya?

In the early 1970s, the CPM burned a transport bus in Malabar during a Bandh. A passenger’s burned corpse remained in the bus, sitting on a scorched seat, with its arm raised and bent as if in a question mark to the society. Manorama had made a lot about it in those days. Unfortunately, none of their new boys know about such bloodier early times of Kerala Bandhs.

Hope now lies on goondas and bullies like the NDF and RSS moving against Bandh-ers on behalf of the MNCs in the near future. Ushnam ushnena shanthi! The Church can also help with a few Idaya Lekhanams! Bandhs by the Church and the RSS/NDF would also be suitably defeated by the others then.

Jackson said...

i suppose the only thing remaining is a hartal against holding so many hartals.. or has that happened already??

scorpiogenius said...

MC, I'm sick of commenting and voicing against these atrocities in the name of 'public' protests and 'democratic' upheavals. We hear a lot about the public grievances and the cruel tales happening on a hartal or 'panimudakku' goes on...and on and on...If it is that mother today, it will be someone else tomorrow.

The public is totally fed up. I strongly feel that these political thugs will be dealt in a fitting way pretty soon by some fed-up souls in our society.

Sooner or later some of these politicians are going to be beaten to death by people...I'm waiting to see it.

MC said...

@ silveirne - i can imagine the clout of the local politician at the grassroot levels. that is the greatest problem. i am sure most people tolerate them only because they are left with no other choice.

@ nikhil - i cannot call such scums dumb, but definitely insensitive and cruel.

@ dd - please come back. we need all the good people back here to change this place :)

@ madhavan - really true. this political clout and influence is being reflected as arrogance and insolence in the street. its evident every day when you go out on the roads in kerala.

@ anonymous - The mother's not being able to rush back was unfortunate; but in Kerala, such delay could have happened on any other day also, due to any number of silly causes
i think this was the silliest cause. in any case, there is no justification, and its not as simple as brushing it aside as unfortunate.

"the CM and DGP rose to the occasion" after watching the mother on TV, but by then she had suffered enough. and what about the thousands of others in the state who couldnt travel?? are you saying it takes some great tragic event for everyone in Kerala to be saved? (i must say we are getting there)

@ jackson - thats really funny. that hartal is coming soon i am sure.

@ scorpiogenius - absolutely. i can sense the discontent and ire slowly percolating to all the sections of the society - thats a great sign.

Anonymous said...

"are you saying it takes some great tragic event for everyone in Kerala to be saved?"

No, no! Never something tragic like the Emergency, I hope!

We cannot assume that the poor child passed because of the Bandh....Nevertheless, I agree that a mother's pain is heart-rending. Very similar to that of the parents of Sr.Abhaya, Sr.Anoopa etc, which is also in the news currently.

MC said...

@ anonymous - very true about sr.abhaya and sr.anoopa. i hope the culprits are punished. you can perhaps write a post on that and help us understand the "untold" story. we can also discuss it better there.

PCM said...

I would like to join hands with Mr. Anonymous, because the name itself displays the guts behind justifying the bandhs and hartals in Kerala. Up to the month of August this year, we have already celebrated more than 80 such social commitments. If Kerala is not ‘labor-friendly’, which State is? When the modern capitalists force everyone to work 24 hours a day for all the 365 days in an year, don’t the laborers need some respite? Kerala is, no doubt, investor friendly because only those who have excess money will feel like investing in something to make more money. What is wrong in extorting such excess funds? Let them come. Then only their money can be distributed among the poor labor class in the State in the form of nOkkukooli, attimari, commissions to political parties and leaders and wages for no work.
The death of a child or the tears of a mother are insignificant things in our long march towards making martyrs for the growth of the Party.

MC said...

@ pcm - i suddenly realize the sense behind it all. and we are seeing the 'growth of the party' every day: "A Rs.250 million amusement park promoted by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) will open its gates to visitors. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan will inaugurate the park. It is run by the Malabar Pleasures India Limited under party-led Malabar Tourism Development Cooperative Society. The society is now headed by K.K. Narayanan, a local CPI-M leader."

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