Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Vacation Reflections in GOC

I am feeling incredibly happy to be back in God's Own Country.

After the initial euphoria of seeing familiar faces and familiar places, reality began to seep in. On the positive side, I see a lot of widened roads, new buildings, new specialty hospitals and other signs of outward development that make me pause and reflect on how much the city has grown since I left. A welcome sight indeed! The development of the city’s formerly congested roads seem to be going full throttle. I see many a flyover, bridges and underpasses coming up and I hope this continues irrespective of the party in power. I also hope that these kinds of developments will not be restricted to one specific city, but that it will spread around.

The heat is quite unbearable and the humidity really drains you and makes you lethargic all day long. I find my days starting quite late in an effort to stay awake the coolest parts of the day. It never used to be this hot and sticky ever. But then again, this is something we are all equipped to handle fairly quickly. Besides, sometime back, when living through the middle of a bitter winter, I had sworn never to complain about the heat if I get a chance to experience it.

Last week saw Sakhavu Achudananthan take his new position as leader of the state. The day of the swearing in ceremony saw red flags and people in red shirts at every street corner. Cars draped with red bits of cloth swished past at break neck speed through narrow streets, putting all others on the road in peril, the passengers inside trying hard not to fall out of the open windows in their eagerness to show their happiness. I was surprised to hear the party of the “poor thozhilali” apparently has a lot of wealth to fall back on; Rs. 4000 crores. At least in these early days, it looks like the LDF government is planning to go full steam ahead in implementing the development projects started by former CM Oommen Chandy (OC). I guess it is a good thing irrespective of who finally gets his/her name inscribed on the foundation stone. However, thanks to OC we have all these projects to look forward to in the near future.

The new CM is in charge of the IT portfolio. It is not his lack of education that worries me greatly; I am hoping with his vast political experience he has some sense of what’s right for the state and what’s not despite some actions to prove otherwise while in opposition. The worrisome fact is that the state is going to be run by a man who has been vehemently opposing Smart City as well as any developmental initiative that OC previously suggested. Can he do a complete about turn and bring in the much-needed investment, which apparently is something against his ‘ideologies’? I pray and hope that it will be the case.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I heard from someone that CM Achudananthan felt that if only 50% of jobs in Smart City go to non-IT related people will he sign the agreement. This is also a person who till the other day was saying that the Smart City project was nothing but a real estate deal meant to pocket commission by people behind this project and that if LDF government assumes power, the first order of business would be sending OC to jail for encouraging Smart City. I hope he really studies the benefits this will bring to the state and the trickle down effect it will have that will be a boon not only to IT folks but to others as well. We need a real enthusiastic and intelligent head of state to foster an environment of growth and development.

Although this aspect worries me a bit, I am still hoping our new CM is surrounded by intelligent civil service folks whose prime motive is state development and not party politics and who will have some influence over the CM and his ministers to do the right thing for the state.

And what’s with LDF’s fondness for changing names? I heard the latest is renaming the Expressway which they thought did not agree with their ideologies one bit, the “North-South” highway. The name change apparently did the trick. Thank God, they did not fall prey to the "wise" suggestion of an LDF MLA , who shall remain unnamed, to call it “bypass.”

Something that does not seem to have changed a whole lot is the general attitude of the people around. Most of them display a callous and ‘don’t care’ attitude that still shocks me. As long as things around them are going well, they care two hoots for anything else. Case in point and something that has been mentioned in this blog before, is the unwillingness of some educated people to exercise their privilege to vote. These people seem to come with a short-term tunneled vision. Long-term forecasts and planning do not interest them at all.

Another thing that I find annoying, apart from the selfishness is the strong tendency of some people to find faults everywhere and in every thing they come across. These people cannot seem to find even an ounce of goodness in what others do or are trying to do. They also seem to possess a remarkably short temper (must be something to do with the incredibly hot weather) and in most cases, a mild conversation about any topic turns into an ugly war of words.

I feel it is pointless trying to explain the situation to such people, as I am sure with their short term thought process; it is hard to see the bigger picture and the brighter future.

Maybe it is just basic human tendency and nothing can be done about it, except for the listener to maintain a dignified silence and respond with maturity.

Apart from a few minor irritants like this, it is lovely to be back. I have really missed my hometown. In spite of the numerous problems ailing it, I just find it so delightful to see the city thriving and trying to keep up with the changes happening all around. Right now as I travel by Parasuram Express to almost the other end of Kerala, rushing past incredibly green paddy fields, flowing rivers, little houses by the way side and young kids playing football, I realize that our state is really blessed. It is good to be home. :)

PS: When I wrote this post, the monsoons had not yet started. Now I am sitting here clutching a blanket and trying not to shiver. So much for cribbing about heat and humidity. :)
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kerala This Week 2006, 2

The Kerala State Industries Development Corporation has offered to assist all the 140 MLAs in Kerala, who were sworn in today, to help them set an Industrial Park "in their backyard". It was meant to help the "public servants" develop their own constituencies, but there are already rumours of the faithful elected leaders taking it very literally and wanting to make the parks their own backyard.

Meanwhile taking a cue from the Madhya Pradesh government, where Babulal Gaur's BJP government wanted to sell cow's urine (gomutra) with milk in co-operative dairy milk booths, our leaders are said to be concentrating on how the state's natural resources can be put to better use. As revealed by one of the leaders, the only natural resource we have that our leaders can identify with, is our unemployed youth and the future of these youth in Kerala lies in politics. But the Greater Urine Project is on the backburner, along with Smart City, after someone warned them that terrorists had found a means of innovative communication - by penning their letters in urine, which works as invisible ink.

Speaking of Morarji, I mean.. err..whatever..last weeks headline read: "Who said 83 is not an age for change?" Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan who used to oppose everything his predecessor Oommen Chandy (now opposition leader) did, appears to have been born-again. Seen as an opponent of IT, as it neglected farmers and labourers, Achu seems to be going all out to attract investors and has already met with IT majors like Infy and USTech. He assured a commitment to create 5,000 IT jobs in one year. His son, supposedly a MCA graduate and an "avid" entrepreneur himself, looked on with enthusiasm and anticipation. Achu seems to be very anxious to get rid of the "anti-development" tag on his back, and it is working well for the state. So far, So good. Everybody is wooing everybody these days!

Kerala’s rubber farmers meanwhile celebrated, with the price of one kilogram of rubber crossing the Rs 100 mark for the first time, while tea prices also seem to be skyrocketing. The rain Gods also seem to be generous this year, with monsoon arriving a week earlier than the IMD predictions. But with the lightning and thunder, not only are we losing television sets and computers, the KSEB seems to be "tripping" in jeopardy. Last night, after incessant mosquito bites, I called up the KSEB control room at 1am to report loss of power and I was surprised when I was greeted with a "namaskaram" instead of the usual "ahh??" or " nggeehh??"

Entertainment in Kerala remained to be focussed on its usual sources. More soft-porn hits have been released and the previous box-office hits continued to rake in the moolahs. I also managed to glimpse upon a "hit" program on TV called "swarnamazha", which was quite nauseating to say the least. The anchor Urvashi, an actor, who reportedly gained weight specially for this role, seemed to be well anchored,with gold jutting out of all possible locations and soldering her to the ground. Gold rain after all.

There is also a protest brewing as "gastronomic delights" from Trivandrum city's first Italian restaurant, Casa Bianca, run "allegedly" by an Italian lady, has affected the sales of exclusive and original Italian food served by the likes of Ambalapattu Rest-or-rant and Hotel Vasantham. "Italian running the country and now an Italian ruining our Italian!" the protestors cried!
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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kerala This Week 2006, 1

I decided to begin a new series called 'Kerala This Week' to summarise the week that was in God's Own. Suggestions, "scoops" and comments are welcome.

A new Chief Minister, V.S.Achuthanandan, has been elected after a massive victory for the Left Democratic Front, and was sworn in today at the Central Stadium with a specially built "stand" to "seat" about 5000 comrades. There are concerns on whether his victory was a write-off to the pro-developmental policies of Oommen Chandy, but the neutralist's opine that it is not. The elections saw many a tainted and worthless leaders being shown the exit door. So I would like to hope that the "literate" population of Kerala wont suffer for the next 5 years or the state wont be rewound backwards for 5 years, and that the new government will be sensible enough to implement the good policies and decisions that truly means progress so that the people are not let down.

There has also been a release which cited "5 reasons why Oommen Chandy" lost:

1. Frogs
People in some parts of Kerala said they will not vote unless a solution to the increasing 'frogs nuisance' in their area is found. They said their villages are infested with frogs, which sometimes simply overrun the roads, making it difficult to walk. And their secretions cause itching.

2. IT
The (IT professionals) appeared to be unaffected by the raging debate over the Smart City pact and development issues raised by the rival fronts. A majority of the IT professionals, aged between 25 and 27, worked as usual and did not bother to cast their vote. These youths, feel that their right to vote is precious and it can be given only to the most deserving candidate. They were also proud, for some reason, that they didn't vote.

3. DICK and Dicks
There is a massive opinion that the vote was against the coalition politics of UDF with DICK. 17 out of 18 DICKs lost. It will be good to remember that OC was against a coalition with DICK but the deal went through thanks to some stal-"warts".

4. Suresh Gopi
Who openly proclaimed that he hated V.S at one time, but now they love eachother. "Orma undo ee mugham?" V.S asked Gopi.

5. ???
V.S was a leader successful in creating sensations by using "language" that related to the "mass". Perhaps, the LDF victory was made possible single-handedly by V.S. He has managed to sound righteous by latching onto seemingly populistic issues. Nonetheless, V.S is a leader who has become the CM after winning not just the general elections, but also the internal war with his rival. That he is a CM without a portfolio is another matter, but I wish him the very best.

That a person who has opposed the Smart City and Technocity projects, is the IT minister and prominent CITU and ex-trade union activists are heading the Industries ministry speaks volumes about what might happen, but lets just hope what will happen is something progressive.
But at the end of it all, I must admit that I am also feeling some bit of hope deep within that this Government will do something worthwhile. It is not a hope that has risen because of my faith in any of the ministers or leaders who will rule the coming years, but only from a deep desire for the good of Kerala. Perhaps as the winds of India's economic growth and might sweep the nation, Kerala will have no other option but to go with the wind, to some extent atleast.

Elsewhere in Kerala, away from its feverish politicking, this week, like the last few weeks, did not see the release of any new malaylam movie. "Sweet Rose - I want you" continued to run to a packed house for its 21st continuous week along with "Basic Instinct - II" which has been running successfully for the 4th week. BS II is expected to beat the previous box office record of "Lust for Love". I keep hearing people ask what Keralites do for entertainment. Little do they know about our eve-teasing malls, bottom-grabbing public transport buses and "cry-from-5pm-9pm" television serials.

As per the recent news clip, mid-day meals are being served daily to 12 crore children in 9.5 lakh schools all over the country. The meals will not be the usual rice gruel and beans that students in Kerala were getting til now, but will include milk, eggs and fish now on. Ah, something to cheer about.

Suzlon, a renewable energy company, found something new in Kerala this week. Wind. They realised it is something the people might not accuse them of plundering or looting, like they did to Coca Cola at Plachimada. But then you never know, Suzlon might be guilty of breaking wind soon.

The Census board meanwhile said that the population growth rate in Kerala has dipped further to 0.91 per cent, the lowest in the country and at par with developed nations.

And finally some good news to all the Keralites sweating in the heat and humidity, and yet, the very few who use deodorant. The southwest monsoon will hit the Kerala coast on May 30th according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). Their release also added that the forecast is based on an indigenously developed technique that has an error margin of three days! Which, is pretty good!
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Monday, May 08, 2006

Can We Afford To Keep Quiet?

The Economic Times has opened a debate titled "Is Premji right to go against job quotas in Wipro?". Sam Pitroda, Chairman of the Knowledge Commission, has termed reservation as a "complex issue".

The medical students across the country have been at the forefront of the campaign against the policies, and i appreciate the grit and courage of these students and young doctors.

It will be wrong to make a post without making my leanings clear. My opinion in a nutshell:
1. Reservations based on caste only divides the nation further by again segregating the country, furthering the casteism.
2. Reservation should only be limited to economic support. Those who perform well at the primary and secondary levels should be provided support for higher education.
3. The focus should be on providing primary education for all. This will gradually eliminate the need for reservation as we will be able to find out the performers, and not have to spoon-feed anyone, irrespective of caste or religion. We need to support, economically, only those who can perform.
4. Reservations, in its current form, only brings down the quality of the output of the country by providing two sets of standards. Do the people who support reservation think the OBCs or SC/STs cannot perform like any one of us? We cannot afford to have non-performers in the higher education system, as it is costly both in terms of economy and quality. This is another reason why we should identify performers at the primary and secondary levels.
5. I agree, all of India's children are our own and there is nobody else to take care of them. But should we not love our children equally?

As Kerala stands eerily quiet on the issue, even the usually quick to burn-down and throw-stones student's unions have lost their balls and are waiting for their uneducated leaders to make head-or-tail of the issue and deliver a statement that brings maximum mileage, here is one way to look at the issue.

This is purely an email message and the ownership of the content lies with its original author. The pictures are also forwards, with the rights belonging to the respective newspapers.


I think we should have job reservations in all the fields. I completely support the PM and all the politicians for promoting this. Let's start the reservation with our cricket team. We should have 10 percent reservation for muslims. 30 percent for OBC, SC/ST like that. Cricket rules should be modified accordingly. The boundary circle should be reduced for an SC/ST player. The four hit by an OBC player should be considered as a six and a six hit by a OBC player should be counted as 8 runs. An OBC player scoring 60 runs should be declared as a century.

We should influence ICC and make rules so that the pace bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar should not bowl fast balls to our OBC player. Bowlers should bowl maximum speed of 80 kilometer per hour to an OBC player. Any delivery above this speed should be made illegal.

Also we should have reservation in Olympics. In the 100 meters race, an OBC player should be given a gold medal if he runs 80 meters.

There can be reservation in Government jobs also. Let's recruit SC/ST and OBC pilots for aircrafts which are carrying the ministers and politicians (that can really help the country.. )

Ensure that only SC/ST and OBC doctors do the operations for the ministers and other politicians. (Another way of saving the country..)

Let's be creative and think of ways and means to guide INDIA forward...

Let's show the world that INDIA is a GREAT country. Let's be proud of being an INDIAN..

How long can we keep quiet?

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Political Mafia

In Kerala, if you see 4 mallus talking, one thing that you can be sure of is that one among them is an aspiring politician.

Over the years, the politicians have invaded so deep into our lives and minds that we cannot
think of anything without the help(?) of the politicians. Be it admission for your kid to the next door primary school or an electricity connection or a proper drainage facility.

The local library committee, has to have equal portions of the two major political parties.
The founder of the library, who spent his life time for it, is simply left out. The people who read
books, or the local writers, does not have any say in the functioning of the library.
I am just taking this example of a library, but if you look around you, I am sure you can find
hundreds of hijackings done by the political mafia.

Take any unnatural death. The local chotta netavu is the first one to reach the place. He sniffs
around the place, tries to leak a clue from the relatives or friends to find if there any chance for
him or his party to gain anything from the sad incident. At least a few votes. Or a few seconds for himself on the news.

If they find anything that can be utilized, its like winning a jackpot. They are least bothered about the relatives or the person who is dead. They start their campaign. Either against the other political party or the govt or the police or the CBI. All that they want is that their name should be heard. Their faces should be on TV.

The political parties take so much prominence in you daily life, they start speaking for us.
Like the master speaking for the slave. Of course, twisting the facts according to their political

In any issue, the political parties take a stand that fits their interests and forces it on to us. We
are to swallow it, without a word. Even if some one dares to oppose this, all of the political mafia
is quick to brand him an outcast, crazy or even personally assault him.

Remember Ajitha ? or Echara varrior ?

The political mafia has now a days started thinking and deciding for us. They have institutionalised us. so without their command we cant do anything.

Consider the reservation issues in the higher education.
All over India, the students are agitating against it. They don’t have any political party to support them. They have formed an association, “students for equality” and they are fighting their cause.

Did you hear anything from Kerala? The most literate state ? The land of stikes, hartals and
bandhs ?
Why ?
because no political parties or their sibling students unions have asked the students to fight. They didn’t start a campaign. Does not the politically un-affiliated students have an opinion in this case, which affects them more than anyone?

We the common people who have not submitted our souls to any political party are left out. We
have lost our voice. We cant express ourselves. We are so dependant on the political mafia.

Now in such a case, the people who are supposed to voice our fears and thoughts are the
sahithya-samskarika nayakar. But if you see what they are doing, you would very much find it just apt to replace the last letter with ‘L’. You show them an award, they come all around you wagging their tails and flexing their flimsy spine. When was the last time a person got to the chairman of any literary organization for his skills than his ability to sing praises for their masters?
“Deepastambham mahascharyam, Namukkum kittanam award!”

The media, which side to they take in this clash between the common man and the political mafia ?

Some time back there was a report in the local televisions about the recent SBI strike.

“Even on the sixth day of the strike, the government has not agreed to the demand of the 2 lakh employees of the SBI. The employees said that they want their pension to be at least 50% of the last salary drawn”

What they didn’t mention was, the strike by just 200,000 employees of the State Bank of India affected transactions, cheque clearing, forex and corporate business across the country. Just 200,000 people holding the money of crores of Indians at ransom. And see the timing of the strike, first week of a month. How else could you blackmail the govt when payment of pension and salaries are affected?

Did any of the local media, tell you the story of an old man who could not withdraw his meager pension amount ? Did the media tell you about the business man whose payment to the international client, worth crores was delayed and hand to pay a penalty?

Forget it, in the much debated smartcity issue, did any media care to go to the local engineering college and ask the students about their opinion ? or the the people who are supposed to get jobs in smartcity ?

Even worse, the media join hands with the mafia. Yea, you know what I am talking about.

What is the solution ? Who will save us?

I dont know.

But blogs are defenitely a step in the right direction. The bloggers are not governed by the editors. They dont rely on favours from the political overlords. They dont need advts from huge corporates. They dont fear if certain groups of people would turn thier ire on you for speaking the truth, creating a fall in the subscription.

We dont have anything to loose, but a whole new world to gain !

( Oops ! sorry if the last line sounded like a political slogan, but didnt I tell you that the politics has made deep roots into our minds ? )
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