Wednesday, December 24, 2008

God's Own Terrorists?

On Christmas eve, the capital (not just for governance, but also the ugliest of events and wiliest of people) of Kerala witnessed a brutal incident, which again passed off as yet another "routine" event in the records of our skewed system. "Party workers" (allegedly from the ruling party) attacked the only Cafe Coffee Day outlet in the city, demolishing the property, injuring both the innocent workers and the hapless customers, and also damaging cars parked outside.

Local press, including leading dailies, underplayed the incident saying it was a retaliation (as if in agreement that the license to police the state is given to the political parties, and not the police) to an accident near the outlet, involving a couple of alleged frequent customers of the outlet, who were racing ("illegally"!!) their cars (or ?bikes) on the adjacent Kowdiar road (which is the only road in the city without potholes and has two lanes - one lane is used for parking and the other for traffic by the law-oblivious population of the city, aided by the jawless, understaffed traffic police - and hence celebrated as the "model road" for Kerala).

Whatever the incident or the "provocation", it is this kind of freehand given to the thugs with political backing that is the biggest hindrance to a civilized and peaceful society in Kerala. It is so enraging to read about goons destroying property and beating up civilians when they fancy. One wonders if the police has even a little bit of shame left when they walk around in their khakis. Ofcourse, our leaders have none of it. It was reported that while these goons were on the rampage, the police who arrived in a jeep were mere onlookers. The goons after completing their "job" even hung around for a round of slogan-chanting before marching away as a group. And all this while, the police just looked on, and later reported that no case was registered since "both parties had no complaint". It is sad that the police has been brought down to such a level by our rulers. One wonders how brave and honest officers can function in such a system.

These incidents are no different from the Mumbai incidents if you think deep enough. And it is this kind of laxity in policing and governance that ultimately cultivates terrorists and criminals. Kerala has reached a stage where any thug or criminal with political backing can do whatever he wishes to do. Police will just watch like a bunch of ball-less people in uniform. In Kerala, it is not the courts or the police that enforce the law these days, but political "party workers" who force injustice, for their vested interests and selfish gains.

The above incident is surely not an isolated event, but just another "routine", daily instance of absolute lawlessness and selfish political mastermind. Doesn't it stink with shame to be a part of this culture and political system? We cry in fury and agitation over terrorists and lack of security and intelligence, but isnt it so obvious that the system we have created is not even able to provide a safe and secure environment in our daily lives? Do we need people to die to wake up and cry foul? If we are threatened every day by our own people (or are they not ours?), and if we cannot have order and system within our own societies, why do we mourn our martyrs and celebrate our commandoes from Mumbai and Kashmir? If our government and police cannot protect our lives and property, and enforce a civil society (even after we shamelessly claim to be 100% literate), why are we shocked to read about riots and killings in Kandhamal and Gujarat, or terrorists striking at will? Its all the same and the result of 100% irresponsible governance.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rotten Dreams

It is a tradition in Kerala to elect communist (LDF) and congress (UDF) led governments alternatingly. And we the people have seen how it takes the new government almost 3 years of their term to undo all the good things the previous government did (including shuffling officers and posting their loyal slaves in key posts), and dedicate one year to corruption, frauds, scams and scandals. The last one year is spent on damage control in view of the ensuing elections, and is a busy period of free offerings, gratuities, and incentives. The current government is completing three years and lets see where some of the projects we pinned whats left of our hopes on.

This is a list of key projects that we wrote on this blog in December 2005; projects that we thought will bring in the much needed change to Kerala.

Vizhinjam International Port: After much fanfare of getting central government clearances, the project is muddled in local bickering. Whether its due to the inefficiency of our government to even execute tenders professionally, or if there is a political-financial scam involved (as alleged now), the project does not look like it will materialize in the near future. The only people who benefitted are the real-estate folks who sold plots around the port and made crores. Land mafia or real-estate mafia or land grabbers..whatever you call them, you can be certain its only our politicians who have gained even while the state is rotting.

Smart City: The current government toiled hard to ensure that this project does not happen during the previous governments tenure. And after getting into their power seats, though they gloated over the fact that they signed a deal with the Dubai based builders, nothing has transpired even after 3 years, except for bickerings.

Technocity off Technopark: After the initial enthusiasm over 9 leading builders of international repute bidding for this several-hundred crore project, thanks to our "celebrated" labour unions and selfish, short sighted, politicians, the IBS fiasco has ensured that no sensible IT company will risk their money and assets in Kerala.

Capital Development initiatives: The only development in the capital city, which I visited recently, is the number of union meeting arches (which is banned in the city apparently!!), party flags, and banners of scums on the walls. A fly-over (just one!) in the city, planned probably a decade ago, is still "under construction" for the last 5-plus years. And ofcourse, the number of thugs and criminals have gone up.

Trivandrum International Airport Expansion: Thankfully, this is a central government project, but our leaders have been successful to the extent that it will not open on the last revised dates for inauguration. The expansion, first planned in the 90s, when completed, will ensure that we need another expansion since the airport will not be able to handle the traffic of the airport by 2010.

Vallarpadam Transhipment Terminal: The work for the proposed international container terminal is yet to begin. The land acquisition was opposed by a group called "Janakeeya Samithi". This samithi is probably a group of 4-5 people with vested interests and political leanings, but thats all it takes to stall any darn project, mega or minor, in Kerala.

We also dreamt about an LNG Terminal, "Apparel City", Express Ways, and what not. The only way highway and road development funds (worth crores) are spent in our state is by repainting the medians and dividers. The rest is probably shared.

Our leaders are good at just making deals for themselves in the name of the poor, whether its fleecing the tax-payer who toils to earn his living or acquiring land and then giving it away through shady deals, and assigning consultancy projects worth crores for every single thing (perhaps if we had educated people in the government, this wouldnt have been so necessary!). They are also very good at doing nothing and letting the state collapse. Talk about the state going to the dogs.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Kerala This Week Ver 2.06, 2008

Kerala is rotting. Blind loyalists have tried to keep the stench within the state under torn rose colored blankets sold under the brand name, God's Own Country, and hypocrites always blew bubbles (you must surely remember at least the big ones - "we are the only 100% literate state, look at Bihar, haha!"; "our healthcare system, nothing to beat it!, we are all fit..what diabetes? obesity??"; "our roads are so good, who needs an expressway? highway tolls?! the ones we have now are well managed by our party men, we dont need anyone else looting our people"; "women's empowerment? our women dont need it, they are happy being slaves and locked-up housewives, and they are fine about the occasional groping and molesting") while pretending we are the best and all is well.

But the bubbles have all almost burst, and the blankets cannot cover the nakedness of bad governance and uncivilized living anymore. The foul smell has become unbearable and global. Its almost as if the state and its people have caught some dreaded infection.

They say politics stinks. Then Kerala politics must be the most septic and the foulest of it all. After the chief minister's "doggone" comments on national television, he suspended an IAS officer who came to air his own office, filled with the stink of infighting, insubordinate secretaries (allegedly), and gathering moss. The home ministry, after a busy period of shielding themselves over recent USA trips and its motives, is sighing in relief after Mumbai. Atleast nobody is worried about the thugs and criminals in Kerala who are looting, murdering, and beating up people on a daily basis in front of a muted police force (reminds me, hope you read about the fight between an inspector and a constable in the commando unit, doing nothing but protecting our "VIP" leaders, in Trivandrum - no they didnt have pistols or automatics with them, luckily, instead they bit eachother to settle scores! Why do we have such a title for this blog, anyway).

The sports ministry informed that the National Games, intially planned to be held in Trivandrum, will be spread over all the 14 districts. Ola-madal winners (Kerala's highest civilian honor) from all party units are being asked to form panchayat level sports councils. Electricity ministry surfaces occasionally to increase power rates and announce further power-cuts. The transport ministry must have been in for a rude shock when the recent stats revealed that Kerala was a topper for accidents, not to mention the tragedy in Kannur when children were mauled by a drunk driver. The transport ministry allegedly shrugged off all responsibility and said that they are not to blame since the surface transport affairs has been taken over by the inland water transport ministry officials, since almost all the roads have been filled with enough potholes to allow boats. Almost all the other ministries are quiet since our industries, agriculture, fisheries, IT, ports, etc are..are "not doing so well", to put it mildly.

Oh wait..Do we have an opposition party in our state? No activity there either.

At the other end, the "saadharanakaran", in whose name blood is shed and wars are fought (sob,sob!), now alleges that the buffoons you and I elected (mostly by not voting) are doing nothing but filling their own coffers (either directly or through their children and in-laws).

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Question Hour for Pinpricks?

The terrorists who plotted the attack in Mumbai must be shocked. For they lost their battle even before it ended; something they probably would have never imagined. Their attack united Indians in a very special way. The nation finally woke up and began asking questions as Indians, forgetting their religion, state, caste and all other less important tags created by divisive forces. And the lousy politicians we got so sickeningly used to, are being thrashed and cornered to assume responsibilities which form the very basis of their positions; the same responsibilities which they never ever expected to hear of while they slothed in arrogance and corruption. But an awakening at what cost? A big salute to our martyrs and heroes. May their souls rest in peace.

There are several questions that the Mumbai attacks have raised. But the biggest questions are the ones that will prick the conscience of every politician who is still remotely human. What about the others who have only manipulated the nation and divided it using religion, caste, ethnicity, crime and money? Its time to isolate them and shun them like the scums they really are. Venom against politicians is all over the nation. And rightfully so. The now famous SMS says it all: "Where is Raj Thackeray and his brave Sena? Tell him that 200 NSG commandos from all over India (No Marathi manoos) have been sent to Mumbai to fight the terrorists so that he can sleep peacefully - Mumbaikars". But how long will this energy last? Lets hope the constructive debates will be successful in channelising the energy into transforming the way we live and conduct ourselves every day. Lets constantly remind the politician that they are elected to serve the people, and not the other way around.

Back in our own little state, our Chief Minister had his foot in his mouth, yet again. Nobody in Kerala felt anything unusual about the comment. Some leaders said its expected of him, others said its his usual style; and yet others said its the same style that won him elections. But the rest of the nation said dogs are better than politicians, even as Kerala hung her head in shame, and wondered why our leaders wanted to mark their attendance at a Malayali martyrs house in Bangalore only two days after his funeral and incessant chiding from the media about the disrespect shown by their stark absence at the funeral.

Reminders of our totally paralysed administration and government are everywhere and are being shoved down our throats every day. But we, the people, remain mute spectators and suffer through the days, as though its normal and part of some elaborate ritual that needs to be silently performed in order to appease the Gods. Just as the Mumbai attack was a national tragedy, the politicians we have, and the system they have created, have all become a national shame. And it stinks, unbearably. Its time to get together and clean up the mess. Like someone very smart said, "(its) time to wrest politics from the politician's hands". Lets not wait for more reminders.

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