Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kerala This Week, Vol 2, March 2007

Update: 18 March, 2007

After drawing immense flak from readers for concentrating only on the funny and negative side of things in these updates on Kerala, I looked around hard for some of the good and positive things that happened around Kerala the last few days. I tried so hard in fact, Sunday morning during the F1 race, I almost saw a malayali driving a Renault. Kovalain! How did our own Gopalan aka Kovalain get there! Amazing. Later I looked closer and found that it was Kovalainen from Finland! Sigh..

Jokes apart, like I said, it was kind of a quiet week in Kerala. But I guess more companies like Muthoot Group and JB Group entering the "race" (which began a few years ago) for the Smart City Project is something to cheer about. Hopefully soon we will have a result!

Kerala continued to shine on the health front. Health minister Sreemathi Teacher announced plans to set up state-of-the-art trauma care centers at all the 5 government medical colleges, and also launched a telehealth project connecting the health network. The minister also announced some funds for primary health centers. Much needed!

And last but not the least, I dont think there were any hartals or bandhs in Kerala in the last few days! Yayy!!

17 March, 2007

Ever since the current government came to power, there has been a heated debate on the qualifications needed for one to rule the state, a supposedly "fully" literate state (The debate on Kerala's total literacy began much earlier, and still goes on.). The first month of this government was very quiet and newspapers started reporting that the various ministry officials were getting frustrated trying to teach the ministers what their respective portfolios were all about.

Nonetheless, there was a lot of hope in the eyes of the people of Kerala - farmers who thought they will not have to commit suicide any more, expats who dreamt of coming back to Kerala for a decent job, women who thought they will have safer streets, children who prayed for better quality education, laborers who ran pillar-to-post for better employment.. The list is endless. But then, so is hope. And all of them continue to dream and hope for a better Kerala.

Recently I chanced upon a the Government of Kerala's official website for the Chief Minister, which had profiles of all our honorable ministers. While majority of our ministers were not even graduates, I was really happy to know a lot of them "completed" degrees and one of them even a PhD! I also saw heated exchanges on some blogs about whether education was needed at all for being a minister, and found a lot of educated (people who completed and passed exams to receive degrees) youth supporting the theory that education was NOT necessary for ruling a state. Personally I differ, and I feel the ministers, or for that matter, all children and individuals, definitely need to be educated!

Anyway, from the above website I also noted a few interesting facts on what it takes to become a minister. Although you dont need to be educated, you still needed to do a lot of hard work. I found that most of the accomplishments listed under each minister's profile centered on imprisonment, surviving police brutality, and organising agitations and succesful uprisings. And almost all of the ministers were either ex-trade union leaders or party youth outfit leaders. All this sounded boring when compared two unique listings:

One minister was bold enough to say "playing cards" was his hobby. Playing cards is considered a big sin in Kerala. He is apparently writing an autobiography with details on his experiences as a minister titled "While I was playing cards".

But even better was another minister's, special skill - Magic. Recently in a very daring attempt, he tried to fool the opposition using his magical abilities. This came as a response to a leader from the Congress, an ex-student leader himself who successfully completed college to become a minister, who claimed that the sex-education program for adolescents was too graphical and not fit for "our culture". The minister responded that “there was no temple without the sculptures depicting scenes from Kamasutra”. This seeming revelation strangely made the Opposition walk out.

Another day, the finance minister said he planned on about 29 crores of additional expenditure from the already bankrupt Kerala Government kitty, taking the budget deficit to Rs.551 crores. The Opposition walked out that day too.

When asked about the recent Nandigram protests and police firing at farmers in West Bengal, our chief, who himself led protests in the name of farmers a few decades ago, and who himself ignores the plight of farmers as CM currently, and the party sec, dismissed the incidents as "media hype". On another occasion, there was this controversy regarding CM saying that the media in Kerala is on the payrolls of the CIA. Whether he said it or not became a bigger controversy than the statement itself.

Most of you would have heard about the omnipresence of the Malayali and the story of his "thattukada" (small shop) in moon, and how he greeted the Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. Almost 39 years later, the first malayali tourist will be heading space-wards paying $200,000 and is currently making the news.

Altogether a "dry" week one would say.. But not in Kerala.

The newly formed All Kerala Drinkers' Welfare Association, registered over 6000 members in under 2 weeks! The association plans to "protect" the interests of the states "alcohol lovers", who apparently consume over 8.3 liters per capita. Among the 15-point demands raised by these gentlemen, exercising their democratic rights ofcourse:

1. Assurance that one can drink in peace
2. A place to drink (since "we cant take bottles home and drink" & "we have to hide and drink")
3. Allow distribution of alcohol via ration shops

Myyy Dogggg!
Read more!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Kerala This Week, Vol 1, March 2007

Every few weeks I get overwhelmed by the events that occur in Kerala, and cannot contain my literary emotions. So I sit and put together a quick-list of important, excellent, crazy, stupid, disappointing, outrageous, and really funny events that occur in Kerala and among the Malayalis. Be warned that this is purely subjective, and most often I have found that what I feel is really stupid is excellent for a lot of other people.

The event of the week has been the country's budget, and more importantly, the reactions. While personally I feel the budget has been good, because for the first time it seemed to speak of the less hyped-up and often ignored sections - farmers and pensioners, a lot of others called it "boring". Of course, we can always keep wanting more.

But in Kerala, we not only keep wanting more, but also make sure we do nothing about it. CM Achuthanandan said that the union budget ignored the state's farmers and agriculture industry! I found this very hilarious considering that the CM of Kerala himself is not doing anything about it but he's blaming the union government - the same union government whos being criticized by everyone else for a budget that focused only on farming! While Mr.CM himself dismissed, and ignored, farmer suicides and financial crises like the days weather conditions, he does not lose any chance to slap the union ministry.

Meanwhile, his ministry wasted no more time in accepting the Rs.14 billion ADB loan for Kerala. After all, the communist ideology is to accept everything free and resist anything that involves work. This is the same loan that the entire leftist parties created ruckus about while the previous government initiated steps to convince the ADB. Hopefully, it will be the time of the next ministry by the time CM and co spend all this 14 billion and the ADB asks them to repay the money.

The Governor of Kerala today read out what the CM handed over to him as the "policies of the government for 2007-2008". He said the government has declared the year as the "year of the agriculture and farmers" aka "harithavarsham". How this is going to help the farmer or his agriculture is obscure. The government also plans to set up an "IT park" in all districts. This decision comes from the very encouraging fact that the Smart City project is still under negotiations even after three years. It is our way of outsmarting others I guess.

The government also proposed to continue its hugely successful "Responsible Tourism" project, under which recently a Swiss lady lost her eye, and a whole boat of school-kids drowned near Kochi. Insiders say that the Responsible Tourism program is similar to earlier programs such as the Responsible Hartal, Responsible Trade Union Militancy, Responsible Goondaism etc, all of which are hugely successful according to the political leaders.

The Governor ended his speech by saying that the current government (2007) will model its future policies based on the government of EMS (1957). And we all know this is a big reality already, and Kerala is now somewhere around 1967 in terms of development, so its just a matter of another decade, which I am sure will be possible in the next 3-4 years of this ministry.

Jokes apart, I hope all the progressive policies of the government will materialize and we see some actual progress in the state!

Pongala is on at Trivandrum today with apparently a record turn-out of women this year. After all, their husbands leave them wanting plenty, so its no big surprise. Last year, post-Pongala, the streets saw unruly groups of youth forcefully stopping women and traffic in the pretext of "providing water to the tired women (their sisters)". Call it Responsible Chivalry - Kerala ishtyle.

Taking responsibility a step further, Shri.Pinarayi Vijayan carried live cartridges in his laptop bag and was caught in the act at the Chennai Airport. The whole thing erupted into a big saga that fed the political industry for a few days. Shri Vijayan himself dismissed the event and said " ohh...i didn't realise". Of course! Achuthanandan meanwhile requested for increased security cover immediately after the incident.

I wonder if somebody is going to tell me about Responsible Blogging now.
Read more!

Terms of Use and Disclaimer