Tuesday, August 29, 2006

So, Whats Now for the Development Agenda?

Angane, Kerala has undergone yet another political transition! This post is a (optimistic) status review of major development initiatives that are on the pipelines for our state and how recent political transition is affecting it.

Intro: New Vikasana Agenda

Over the last few years, especially during OC’s tenure, there seemed to be new concept of Vikasanam in kerala that is getting increased attention. One that emphasis on big infrastructure projects and attracting large scale private employers, of the new economy, to the state. Kerala can still break away from its economic stagnation and scarcity of employment, if this new Vikasana agenda is given the political fuel to continue its momentum.

I feel politically environment is favorable enough for this new Agenda to take root. As more and more time passes, leftist are becoming milder and milder in their antagonism against economic liberalization. Strong political examples from Bangali Marxist leaders had to filter into the minds of comrades at home, especially since they are on the ruling side now. Second, VS in the Chief Minister’s post is a lesser evil than him being the opposition leader, as far this agenda is concerned. Unlike OC, he is not expected to be a proactive leader nor a visionary in this field but hopefully external pressures and the realities of governance will keep him on track. As an added bonus, less political cheap shots from selfish opposition politicians means, less harassment from the media for the new Vikasana vision. It is also widely conceived that during the leftist tenure state is more stable (except for Kannur,ofcource ) in terms of bundh, political unrest, student agitation, etc for reasons that are very troubling to say the least.

Smart City:
It is really been a rollercoaster ride for this project. Judging by the moment, it seems VS's administration has done a good job keeping the project alive. His preconceived strong stand on this project gave him the upper ground on the negotiations with DIC. Hopefully, the government and DIC can workout the exact wording of the contract soon. The implementation of this project, if happened, would be a huge strategic victory for the state’s new development vision. Entrance of Smart City along with vallarpadam port terminal project will increase Cochi’s business profile and will attract many other large and small scale employers to the city. Cochi is a little nuke bomb waiting to be exploded with jobs!

Techno Park Expansions.
The expansion plans for park is quite impressive. I don't see any hurdles here because of the political transition. Glad to see VS is fine with giving out land directly to companies rather than through government agencies. Hopefully, the growth rate in information technology sector will keep up for the years to come, so that all future expansion plans will be realized.

Vizhinjam Harbor.
Only hiccup. Instead of doing Dharna's and kerala style useless gharavos in delhi, why not our honored MPs call up a news conference and threaten a 'withdrawal of support', unless Central babus give clearance to the project? Kerala government should also propose tighter regulations and safety precautions to address legitimate national security concerns aroused by the Chinise involvement. It ties into the post Brijesh made earlier... kerala politicians don't know smart politics.

Naluvary Patha aka Express Highway.
Our state will be choked to death by vehicle traffic and will be unsuitable for business, unless such access controlled highways are built in the near future. Most likely, 25 -30 years down the road, an Express Highway in kerala is going to be a forgone conclusion, simply because our state can not be able to survive without it.

At least a strip down version of the original plan should be allowed to be built during this government’s term. I feel this project is politically more feasible now. All it need is a No Objection Certificate from CM saying he is okay with the project (of course a modified repackaged one) as long as there is no ‘corruption’ and no ‘real estate mafia’ is involved.

The original plan had several 'image' problems. The vision was oversold to a narrow minded social and political environment. It is very important that public perceive this project as an uninterrupted blood vessel that can bring prosperity to all sections of the society, not just the rich, as many perceive now. May be doubling or tripling the access points than originally planned would increase public liking of this project. Also, government should get central funding for the project, something the previous promoters hadn’t bother to do. Hoping VS won't be a odakke in this, at the end...

Power Sector.
Inefficient KSEB should be broken up and private sector power producers should be allowed to compete, at least in the industrial sector. As long as current subsidies are kept, there shouldn't any reasonable political pressure for not to implement the reforms especially since it is mandated by central government.

Government Institutions.
Historically, leftist governments show more innovations for the public institutions. Hopefully this trend will continue this term as well. Already, it is a welcome move to start new audit system aimed at local government. If the lefts are committed to the Janakeeya Aasuthranam and Local Government Decentralization, they should give more taxing powers and more financial independence to local administrations.

End Note
And now, for the interest of keeping the readers awake, I should cut short this 'review'. There are many more notions/sectors of development to discuss. It is a good idea to keep track of states development affairs through savekerala blog while keeping it as apolitical as possible. Please add your thoughts in the comment section.


Mind Curry said...

excellent post babin..

VS and his bunch have just completed 100 days in office and its good to have posted something like this.

while VS has shown some interest in projects like vizhinjam and smart city, perhaps after immense pressure, the performance can be at best termed lacklustre.

while VS has made some noises, the rest of the pack are probably still educating themselves as they have remained very silent.

i think on the whole this ministry has been one with total lack of initiative for progress. and worse still, they have undid some good plans of the previous govt like the goonda act.

anyway, its still good to be hopeful and optimistic and that perhaps will see us through the term of this ministry.

Emmanuel said...

I'm also a keralite who would like to see more and more developments that can make kerala a economically sound state. The thing is that the revenue that keralites create outside kerala is a strong one on which we cannot always rely. When many development projects like smart city, vallarpadam terminal, vizhinjam harbour etc. come, the jobs that are created do not confine to the corresponding sectors but also in other service sectors like malls, restaurants etc.

I also think that these kinds of projects can stabilise our economy although our label of consumer state won't go. The revenue that can be earned by the government also will increase even though we won't transform from a service sector state to production sector state.

Then comes the politics. When the "right" ruled, they had a stumbling block which went out to form DIC(K) and now when it's "left" it is against their chief minister.

i don't know where wil it all go. but always hope and pray to see kerala more than a 100% literate state to a developed state. Otherwise the working class of kerala will be eventually out of kerala.

hope that the left will do "something"....i always doubt this "something" will happen....

btw i didn't write anything about the post. sorry....

it's a nice write up babin..

it's overall a nice blog and appreciate the topics handled here....continue the same......:)

Alex said...

A good one!

Like you mentioned rather than VS being in the opposition, it is better this way.

But kochi needs to look at the pollution level can stagnate in the forseeable future...

Babin said...

@mind yea, one thing that is totally absent from this government so far is a Vision/direction on development.
Usually whenever lefts are on the ruling front, they convinently take a couple of steps forward from where they were previously. all hope is on it.

@emmanuel Glad to see you like this blog..
You are very right. Kerala needs jobs!!!!!!! but unfortunatly this is the most underrated critical issue discussed within the political/media circle in kerala.

@alex , first we have to send the 'eechas' of kochi packing:) anyway, kochi has the best shot of becomming a diverse employement hub for the state. hopefully in the future, unemployed youths will come to cochi for oppertunities instead of going to bangloor and mumbai etc..

Jiby said...

great post, babin...u have done a wonderful analysis of VS's govt, botht the good and the bad.

VS in the Chief Minister’s post is a lesser evil than him being the opposition said it, the man has done much better than i envisaged.

Its a pity seeing the lack of political prestige any kerala leader commands in delhi unlike their tamilnadu colleagues who as we all know our sabotaging if that comes up Trivandrum, will surely catch up with Cochin on the development front. Anways its heartening to see Technopark expanding.

The Express Highway work needs to speed up. if it doesnt start now, like you pointed by the time its completed in 10-20 years our NH will become one hell of a crowded street!

I hope you will write a post on the Mullaperiyar fiasco and how past corrupt leaders like jacob and co surrended our wud be nice if someone cud give the true story without all the compromises newspaper reporters have to make.

Once again...looking forward to more though-provoking and interesting write-ups from you.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure the vizhinjam project is being sabotaged by Tamil Nadu??

Could you please explain the reasons.


Babin said...

@jiby. thanks for the comment... we need to start building the expressway now for it to be completed by the time we really need it. One thing to be sure, Kerala will be a lot different once we have 2 world class ports and a north south expressway built.

@anon, isn't it kind of obivious? there is strong 'circumstantial' evidence... the shipping minister wants to promote the port in his state, near kanyakumari. There is also the 'national security' argument.. we can work around all these 'odakkes' if the politicians are strong enough.

abhishek said...


It's gratifying to see your interest in Kerala's development agenda. I am a Mallu expat working in the US and I have a great deal of sympathy for your views. I think what we really need to do is to form a common development agenda for as many Malayalees as possible. Would you be interested in joining me to help construct this? I would really love to use your blog site as a platform to launch this project. I am still thinking out the details, but two and more heads are better than one.

Babin said...

@Abishek Great idea.. I am very glad to see there are more like minded people like you. we should join forces in whatever capacity for promoting a better kerala.

Can you email Mind with your plan? I would love to see this blog used as a platform by more people like us.

kairalee said...

Great post babin...
Keep up the good work.

abhishek said...

@mind curry and @babin,

you have mail!

Mind Curry said...

thanks to achu mama, kerala has almost gone out of reckon. read the news item below, note that there is no mention of kerala even. while our leaders are busy grabbing women in aircrafts or still debating cheesy issues like "ice cream parlor" and "beauty parlor", the rest of the nation is marching ahead.

news from business standard:

Southern CMs jostle for large investments: CNBC
12 September 2006

The three chief ministers have jostled for political power in the past. Now it's a battle to attract investment into their respective states. Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Karunanidhi, it seems, will do almost anything to bring in the bucks. That includes highlighting his state's strengths in English, a language he is not known to speak often.

Karnataka has long been the poster boy of Indian IT.>>>The new chief minister has sought to calm those fears and improve Bangalore's infrastructure.

Hyderabad has often been touted as an alternative to Bangalore. Chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy says over Rs30,000 crore investment is due soon. And the government has a relatively easy way to acquire the 22,000 acres of land it needs.

It will give landowners, who are farmers, two choices. Either become a revenue shareholder in the finished project. Or have part of his land returned to him after the government develops it. This would boost its value.

Besides land assurances the government offers industries rebates on power tariffs. So, from subsidised power to speaking in alien tongues, it seems that the three chief ministers will do anything to ensure they win the battle for the buck.

Babin said...

@virtual-kerala . thank you for those encouraging words.

@abishek check your email as well!

@Mind. If Karunanidhi and son of 'sakshal' Deva Gawda can be proactive leaders in development, then why shouldn't Achumama???grrrr

btw, that land acqusition system YSR implementing is quite innovative.. sounds like a system that should be copied to the land of so called "land mafias".

Emmanuel said...

i don't know why kerala is so. as one story tell, when we exports living crabs to other countries, we can leave the box from kerala open. not even a single crab will move out. The reason is that if one tries to escape, the others will pull him down.

so here the politics is like this. a person lands on mud when he lost balance while he was walking, he landed with his right foot which was full of mud and he trid with his left leg to clean it, so the mud is now in left leg. same is the scene here. when left rules, right is right and when right rules, left is right....this is the mentality that is among the politicians and the people..... so everybody discuss about the next government and not the social issues......
then kerala will get the certificates like state with highest consumerism, state with higher no. of suicides, state with higher number of sexual harassments, state with higher number of hartals....and so on...

Babin said...

True. I have seen crab analogy used against keralites quite a few times, rightly.
I agree with the right right and left right issue... kerala voters are too naive in many ways. ultimately blame should go to the people for the performance of the politicians they elected.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Your analysis is fine but why you are labelling Comrade VS as "odakku" everywhere?????
Why VS was against Smart city during UDF rule if u want to know please go thorugh the then proposed Smart City Agreement here .Now VS supporting it because No need to give Infopark ,giving land for lease at double the rate which UDF proposed.
Pinne why Leftists oppose "Privitisations" , you can see how privitisations have caused inbalance in the socety previously.They come with less prices later increase the rices drastically to the point where consumer cant afford.
In case of Reynolds which took over te Indian product through monpoly capitalism came with a much lesser price for the product and later increased drastically. But then also Leftists are redayto change their policies with time and they are changing . So please dont blame communists in each posts.
And OC how is he a visionary ? if we see in behind these development projects what he is getting.
So dont blame communists for no reasons , and without knowing facts. You have the rght to blame if there is something wrong.
Also at present when we are having so much debts and farmers suciding , let us keep express highway for sometime later.Dr.Thomas Isaac has come up with an excellent mid-term budget in middle of all these financial crisis state is facing.
Apart from these all other points i agree with you.

Anonymous said...


Please read this interview with Bangalore systems engineer deepak to know more about smart city

Terms of Use and Disclaimer