Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Dream Of Kerala

Here at Save Kerala, we are often accused of focusing on the negative aspects of the state of matters in Kerala. In a perfect world, that would be valid grounds for ignoring this blog. But the fact that we elicit rather passionate debates only reinforces our belief that things as they stand in Kerala could actually be much better. Of course, our topics may naturally incline towards those that affect the middle class by and large, because that is where most of Save Kerala's authors are drawn. Hopefully, we have also touched on issues that affect all Keralites, regardless of class, because as most foreigners and natives will have observed of Kerala, there are very few distinctions between different income groups in Kerala. Most Keralites, irrespective of their income or purchasing power, enjoy a decent standard of healthcare and access to education. So, what is it that we are really debating here?

The crux of most discussions at Save Kerala usually devolves into one of two things. Either we end up discussing political developments in Kerala. Or we debate Kerala's unique cultural traits. Either way, we end up discussing the current and potential essence of Kerala. And that should be a question near and dear to most Keralites' hearts - where would you like to take Kerala?

Much of that question depends on what we define as progress. Some would say that ours is a fairly egalitarian society and since we enjoy basic standards of health and education, we do not need much else. I like to categorize this as "Let's rest on our laurels" view. My only bone of contention (and it's a rather large-sized bone) with this view is that "all that glitters is not gold". Health standards as measured by infant mortality rates and life expectancy rates, not to mention with outdated statistics, insufficiently capture the health risks of a densely populated state. Economic growth rates, as measured in state national domestic product, inadequately measure the risk posed by a highly concentrated, disenfranchised labor force in the Middle East. On a superficial level, our society appears to be in good shape, but on a meaningful level, it is increasingly dependent on remittances from a culturally and geographically separated population of husbands, wives and children. I am not sure if these are signs of a healthy society.

But, for now, I am going to leave you with one question - what is your vision of a perfect Kerala? I hope my personal views on this question have already emerged through my writings here. If not, I will be sure to reiterate them with more support in my next blog entry on the state of agriculture in Kerala. Farming, as I've discovered, is one of the most complicated industries in the world, but hopefully I won't take too long to pen my thoughts and analyses.

I'd like to say that you should feel free to express as broad a vision of Kerala as possible. But please keep in mind that history has been very unkind to the vaguest of dreams. The ones that come true or are at the very least taken up as challenges are very often those that have a very palpable sense to them. As Martin Luther King said in that oft-quoted speech, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Pray tell, what kind of Kerala would you pass to your children?

P.S. In the interest of surveying as many Keralites as possible, please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be a stakeholder in Kerala's future.
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