Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Kerala This Week Ver 2.05, 2008

After a few relatively interference-free years, the much hyped-about IT growth in Kerala is all set to come to a halt. After resisting trade unions and veiled attempts from other looters for the last few years, just as things were beginning to look brighter for Kerala's IT exports, trouble has surfaced for IT companies who have invested in the state in the form of the much-dreaded labour politics. Latching onto the dismissal of a few employees (apparently for under-performance) from one of Kerala's largest IT companies and one that is based in Kerala as well (we would have thought such companies were our pride and should have been promoted and encouraged!), the cancerous political system in Kerala has successfully breached the protective layer that allowed a fair amount of growth and prosperity in the last few years.

Politicians and ministers jumped on to this obviously private matter of the company and issued enquiry orders and investigations, and call for action against private companies. On television, one notable personality, while spewing venom against private companies, stated "This is Kerala!". Yes, this is Kerala dear friends. Dont invest here or think you can work and earn your living comfortably here. We, the jobless, are here to loot from you, in the name of the poor and downtrodden. We dont differentiate between industries and sectors. If you work and prosper, we need a share of it. So much for Smart City, Technocity, and Technopark, and IT parks in all the districts. Now we can conduct party meetings in all these places.

A little further south of the capital, Trivandrum, another mega-project that was hyped and celebrated is gathering dust. After blaming everyone from USA to China, and the central ministry to the Tamil Nadu government initially for lack of clearances and approvals for the Vizhinjam International Port, now that we have the green signals from all quarters, we are faced with our biggest enemy: our own politicians. The tempo behind the project is slowly waning, and the project is being opposed by the local political outfits disguised as "protectors of the downtrodden", trying to fit in their own interests.

The lessons to learn are repeated almost every week. The politicians spoiled our own harvest and let crops worth crores get damaged while they played their cards in the name of the workers. Later, as the workers and the people of Kerala suffered, they went on a begging tour to the center asking for more support and to stop the negligence. Wonder when the people will ever wish that our own politicians stopped neglecting the state first. The irony didnt end there. Ending a week long protest against USA and after several rounds of "West-bashing", some of our top ministers are on an international trip to find investors willing to put their money in Kerala. And no points for guessing where. The West, ofcourse, and specifically, the United States of America.

While they are away, crime and violence continues unabated and Keralites were being hauled up from across the country for terror-connections. A section of the top police officials had more important things to attend to, and were reportedly gathering at party offices and meeting political godfathers to plan a strategy for the next elections, and how they can connive.


The Common Man | പ്രാരാബ്ധം said...

Well written and I mean it!

Madhavan said...

@MC- good post.Private enterprise cannot survive in Kerala.Taxpayers money is eaten up by Govt: employees, virtually for doing nothing.Worker's unions loot & exploit the common man.Reckless corrupt politicians rule the roost.
Recently I read an article by Shahi Taroor, that more than 40% of American politicians (Senators & congress men) are graduates from Yale or Harvard.Contrast this with Kerala Politicians! this explains the lack of culture & etiquitte in their behaviour!

silverine said...

If I were to make a five minute movie on Kerala it would go like this!

"This is Kerala!"
"Stay Out."

A very sad day for the State! Gem of a post! Straight from the heart!

silverine said...

On a lighter note do check out - Hate To Say I Told You So - by The Hives :|


confucius said...

Sad .. but true...Our people cant take the pressure of multi national company jobs...they are used to govt jobs where you dont have to be productive to survive...
Every IT company will think thrice before investing in Kerala now...
I just hate whe this happens...a handful of ppl spoiling our state for us...wonder when will the comman man come out and see that its all cheap vote bank politics..!!

Praveen said...

really a sad state..the political parties trying to gain a few a points in the current scenario of job cuts in IT industry is such a lowly behaviour(and expected too) from their part.. The recession makes it necessary for the companies to cut jobs othrwise they cant survive..and how can these stupid politicians have a say in the matters of a private politicians

coming to Vizhinjam, less said the better..How can people from our own state work against it..Its a project which can bring so much good to the country as a whole that the idea of other states opposing itself is unbelievable...then , as that politician said...THIS IS KERALA:(

MC said...

@ common man - thank you.

@ madhavan - if 40% of our leaders were atleast graduates from some school, it would have made such a big difference. we should campaign for a law that only allows graduates to contest elections, and ministership should be based on merit! i am sure politicians will resist such moves with all their teeth and bones.

@ silverine - lol..that reminds me of your post on older movies in india..funny..

@ confucius - definitely is a sad trend thats been even the existing companies will never want to expand in kerala and risk their business. IT was one industry which was slowly beginning to give Keralites some thats also shattered.

@ praveen - they just want some money for the party fund perhaps..

scorpiogenius said...

Well written, as usual.

The IT industry is already in the verge of a disaster, thanks to the global recession. No known companies have come to Kerala in the past annum, and the IBS saga has just rubbed salt into the wound.

It will be unfair to say that there is no political will to make sure Vizhinjam materializes. The tempest you experience in the name of the project is from some well known circles, read businessmen, both local and national. We mustn't forget that Vizhinjam reached this far only bcoz of the honest and humble efforts from some of the State ministers..

Poiliticians need to play some of these games for their survival, its a well recognized fact. Its only the people and the state who loses out many times...But who cares?

silverine said...

"we should campaign for a law that only allows graduates to contest elections"

Do tell me when that law is implemented. I will quit my job and start an Institute selling fake degrees to ministers! Sure fire way to millions! Or maybe not, cos our ministers would have started their own by then! /:)

Ravi said...

End of honeymoon! ;-) What happened to the people rooting for Kerala now?

Anonymous said...

Minister will teach IBS a lesson. Becomes hero. He keeps his seat. Industries will move out. Thousands of Keralites lose jobs.

Keralites are 100% stupid not 100% literates!!!

MC said...

@ scorpiogenius - the political will is there perhaps, but its not in the interest of the state, but more selfish in nature - thats my personal opinion, not based on stats or evidence.

@ silverine - we can provide a 5 year replacement guarantee or something to take on competition!

@ ravi - i guess we are all rooting for kerala at the end of the day.its just the perspective and understanding that differs.. we all just need to realize that and focus on the real issues, and work together to solve them.

@ anonymous - well surely we can be stupid at times..we just need to get rid of these fools and save ourselves soon.

Pillai said...

I have also seen in the TV that the officer from labor ministry shouting in front of the IT company at Technopark “Ithu Keralamanu”.

Instead of creating atmosphere to invite them into meeting and finding solutions and ways to avoid giving more pink slips to employees at this hour of economic crisis this arrogant and rude attitude of our government and officials are nothing short of “Gundayism”. We will pay huge prize for it.

Anonymous said...

Well written.. And feeling very sad and bad for a place I love very very much..

Anonymous said...

Let us hang our heads in shame.

bombay dosti said...


Well,for a moment, let me give a glimpse from the other side of the table too. Here, I dont speak as a Keralite or as a NRK.I only speak as a HR professional, quite an old fashioned one at that. I hate Jack Welch and his force fitting of people into the normal distribution curve, because, every year, I know, how "forced", the non performers truly are.

Having said that, in this case, and in the Jet Airways case, layoff as such is not the issue. Its the manner in which it is done, which is disturbing. Giving the pink slip at the end of the day, is typically the American model of working. Understandably, when there are companies working for American clients, they might tend to follow their model of firing as well. The trouble is, in taking the model in bits and pieces. The Social Security network abroad is quite protective of its citizens.Therefore,even if they lose their jobs, its not the end of the world. We(India) does not operate in that model. We do not provide any social security to our citizens.In that case,how justifiable is it, to follow a hire and fire model?

I am also aware that IBS was not the first time, that companies have fired people. But that does not make "firing" a complete right, you know.

As one goes down the hirarchichal rung, non performance is most often, attitude, isn't it? I just start becoming sceptical when I hear that a company suddenly finds a large chunk of its employees as "non performers" all of a sudden. Either there is an issue in the recruiting system that there were so many people among a group of 250 employees, who were non performers. I, too take care of HR in a unit consisting of 290 people. I cant believe there can be 29 (1% of IBS was laid off) people who are truly "non performers". Of course , Mr. Welch has forced me to label someone as "non performer" but not all of that can be substantiated. Mostly, its a part of a relative grading system.

At the same time, I agree that I dont have all the facts about what actually was the reason for the layoff and whether it was only a non performance issue or whether it was a economic issue for the company.

For a moment, assume its an economic issue, like it was for Jet Airways. In that case, I do believe that lay off was inevitable, considering their financial state. But I do totally condemn the manner in which it was done.So, in the case of IBS. We are not America, for heaven's sake.

Again, I dont say this emotionally(well yes, these things do disturb me)but because, I have seen layoffs, relocations happening in my company as well.I have seen that it is possible to be empathetic, when the company has to take a call. We had a relocation of a unit from one city to the other and there were many people who could not relocate. The company spend months, talking to each employee, helping those who could not relocate, to find a job, and so on. All I am talking about, is empathy, that companies also need to show, or atleast companies should not talk about loyalty, you know ;-)

Lets take the "industrial labour", where employees/workers have a lot of protection from these "firing" systems by the law. Professionals, in India are not protected by any such laws. There is always a debate on whether this is required or not. My point is, if we dont provide social security as a country, then we may have to ask companies to be responsible as well.

This is important, because, India is a place where MNCs will come to set shop, for the cost advantage with english speaking people, but then when a nearby "low cost" country becomes the better place, companies will move there only for profit motive. It would be good for the company as a whole, but then, are we following a model which can take that system?

This was a long comment. Sorry for that, but its a personal topic for me, thats why.
My point is that corporates are not all saints, you know.

Smitha said...

@ Bombay Dosti

Well written comment. any company company can find 'underperformers' during a financial crisis, the same individuals were 'exceptionally good' when things were going well.

Another 'underperformer' drama.

Another Smitha said...


Fudged bills will eventually land you in soup. Remember Intel? Over 200 employees were sacked for fudging bills. All were proved fudged. The moving and packing company will have records. Why don't the employees get duplicate bills? And why didn't they keep copy of the bills? Dont use a comment here as an excuse to bring up any and every issue connected to lay offs. The topic of discussion is the unprofessional conduct of the Labour Ministry. They should have discreetly probed the matter and then gone public, instead of addressing media and flexing muscles without a proper inquiry!!

Pillai said...

Now the labor ministry came with a clean chit to the company. In a report submitted to the Govt the ministry found that the sacked employees are underperformers!

Anonymous said...


What else did they expect? Performance Appraisal records are meticulously maintained! :-)

reggi said...

It is not at all the business of the Govt to be interfering in the internal affairs of how businesses run in a market. Was the Govt responsible in getting these jobs for the people? NO… If this is the case….Why not have Mr. Chief Minister and co to go after the hundreds of companies who have layed off thousands of workers around the world. Many of whom are keralites for that matter. In the cycle of business there is good times and difficult times. It is not just to enjoy the goodness of an economy one should learn to…one must also accept the downturns of an economy. These are some hardcore realities. It is the external forces that tends to pour kerosene over internal sparks to draw blood. What do you all gain out of this? You lay down and spit…who does it fall on??? The labour dept is setting a very bad precedent!!! could backfire big time!

Anonymous said...

Layoff are normal even in times of boom. It is a process of quality control.

Anonymous said...

A w3ell written post right from the heart .
the minister kodiyeri now in USA with a begging bowl to invite the people to invest in kerala also know that if this happens to Ibis and especially a keralite. what will be the impression of another prospective international invester

Anonymous said...

thank you for bringing out such a powerfully worded article .it really very thoughtful of you to do it .
Iam not much of a blogger myself but like to read most ofthe interesting articles about tourism . I am involved with the tourism busines for the last 36 years . many times iam really ashamed of things happening around the so called tourism development .
Infact when tourism was not this much talked aboutwe have opted to work in the area about 36 years back . we have survived against all odds with the beurocrtic setup always fighting with and winning every inch. we are also tourism product developers who created the concept of kettuvallom house boat to rehabilitate the old boatmen and to save the tradition of boat building to posterity.
Now it has out grown all our expectations and there are more than 600 boats .
we would like to offer our services and efforts and contact to save kerala from these monsters
my business web site is

Pearls-of-thought said...

I too heard this news. I also heard that the CEO of that company was finding it difficult to answer most of the questions raised by some news channel interviews.

The whole world is dipped in economic recession and many companies are giving pink slips to ease out. When King Fisher decided to sack employees en masse, the Govt of India interfered. Being a Govt, it is Kerala Govt's duty to get clarifications from any employer. So why make so much of noise? Criticise when it is essential, "kala pettennu kettal kayaredukkan odaruthu!" dayavayi...

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