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 Health standards as measured by infant mortality rates and life expectancy rates, not to mention with outdated statistics, insufficiently capture the health risks of a densely populated state.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.


Tinkerbells said...

A great step! One suggestion...maybe a list of leading questions will help to focus the responses and not take discussions in multiple unrelated directions..

PCM said...

First things first. Please make sure that 'Anonymous' letters appearing in the blogsite displaying irrelevent messages are blocked. Then we can discuss Dream of Kerala.

abhishek said...

As a starter, would you consider it the natural goal of an ideal society to provide quality education at the primary, secondary and tertiary level to everyone? And if so, how do you propose doing it?


A survey model questionnaire will be appropriate.I think our system of education is pretty acesible and affordable to most sections of our society.We need good governence in all fields. Administration has to be revamped,stikes & hartals curtailed.The anti-developmental attittude of the people needs to be changed in keeping up with the times.
Someone has to make a start somewhere.

Prasanna Raghavan said...


It seems your question is ever more appropriate than now.

Have you heard about the Indian Supreme Court decision on 'Kerala majority'?

manuscrypts said...

jobs, baby, jobs !! if education is plenty and health is fine, what do all the well educated healthy people do after becoming both? but you know, it isnt as though people dont know all this, maybe like achu appooppan's conspiracy theories there are vested interests, lobbies and mafia operating.. on a sidenote, have you kept a track of cochin's property prices? for a not-so-happening city (do correct me if i'm wrong) its way high.... maybe when politically motivated development/un-development is stopped, all will be fine in shyam sunder's kera kedara bhoomi :)...

PCM said...

A dream Kerala! What a nice concept! Well, I am going to construct such a Kerala where there are no party politics.
Every time the elections are conducted, around 50-60 % votes are polled and the coalition that gets the majority comes to power. That means, the group that gets around 27-31% votes rule for the next term. The voters know very well that they have no other go, and so, not pleased with those in power, vote the other group into power. Nobody knows exactly what happens during the election process. When the votes are counted, one group swears in and begin to behave as if they had the total mandate of the people.
Another fact that the people know well is that there is essentially no difference between the people who fall into either side of the line that decides Left and Right. They behave just the same when in power or out of it. The ruling group goes on making promises, the opposition trying to thwart them.
So, my dream is that there is no divide like this. Let anyone who wants to contest the elections do so. Those who win can form a Government without party considerations and plan for the FUTURE of the State.
IN my dream, there is a proper analysis of the problems and needs of the State and a powerful MASTERPLAN for the next 50 years. We have no dearth of brains for making such a Plan: experts from India and Outside, who know and are interested in the development of Kerala, can sit together and devise this Plan. Economists, Planning Specialists, Social Activists, Educationists, Administrators – all can form part of this Committee. Their decisions should form the crux of the development for the next 50 years.
It is the influx of overcharged politics into all walks of life that has put the State in this unenviable state. Every small group forms itself into a Party and wields power to obtain some mileage in the next election. One step forward and two steps backwards in every field of activity. In Education, Primary Health and Communal Harmony, we stood on the top of the world once. But now, we are slowly easing downwards. The Government has no funds to pump in into the fields of Education and Primary health. Therefore, private players have their sway. The policy of “we will not do it, but will not others also let do it” of the Government in these fields is creating a crisis. If the Government is strong enough to provide funds for education and primary health, the private players will fade out. Otherwise, let them do it.
Once a Broad Plan for development is framed and political differences are sorted out, I feel our Dream Kerala is going to come true. Others are minor issues which can be sorted out.

-Poison- said...

the kerala of my dreams would be dream destination for private companies to set up their Indian bases.
it would also boast of two or more world class ports, one of which would be vizhinjam.
there won't be any life-halting bandhs or anything like that in that utopia.
people can voluntarily strike. but not even one should be forced to strike.
the levels of corruption would be abysmally low.
the government officials would be 100 times more helpful and efficient.
the cities wouldn't close down at 7pm. if they do, then they are unworthy of being termed as cities.
the goondas would be an extinct species.
the roads would be as wide and at par with autobahns.
metros and suburban rails would be there in the major urban centers.
whew. the list is hardly complete. but i am tired!

Anonymous said...

Born of parents who were from kerala but raised in bombay and married to a Bengali who is born and raised in Bhilai, Chattisgarh. I hope my children will associate the people who were raised in kerala match the beauty of the land. Let the Kerala become like Anna Hazare's village and the people who were once raised in kerala would have the utmost desire to go back and develop a participatory process of wholistic development and make the surreal title god's own country real

Anonymous said...

A kerala with
1. Workers’ solidarity
2. Direct action
3. Workers' self-management

Workers’ solidarity means, all workers, no matter what their gender or ethnic group, are in a similar situation in regard to their bosses (class consciousness). Furthermore, it means that, in a capitalist system, any gains or losses made by some workers from or to bosses will eventually affect all workers. Therefore, to liberate themselves, all workers must support one another in their class conflict.

Direct action— action concentrated on directly attaining a goal, as opposed to indirect action, such as electing a representative to a government position — will allow workers to liberate themselves.

Workers’ organizations — the organizations that struggle against the wage system, and which will eventually form the basis of a new society — should be self-managing. They should not have bosses or "business agents"; rather, the workers should be able to make all the decisions that affect them themselves.

Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are rather forced upon them from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security. They do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace.

Anonymous said...

When one thinks of what kind of Kerala he or she would like to leave behind for future generations, I think we need to think of different aspects. Some of the key aspects include:


I will just comment on the Economy part.

Economy: I think at least for the next 25 years, we just need to focus on the following sectors:

2. Tourism / Health Tourism
3. Shipping hub for S. India

All being service indstries, it will create lot of jobs and it is a good mix that will allow employment creation that is spread both geographically across Kerala and among high and low skilled population. Doesn;t mean that we kill all other industries - we should still have the traditional industries but should forget getting large scale mfg here or doing large scale agriculture here. I think if we concentrate on these 3 services, we can crack it and be the leaders. That is my dream.


nevermind said...

Unrelated, but you might be interested on what it means to make a gay movie in Kerala. Unless social liberalism is outside your remit, that is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jaius,
your suggestion appears as odd. Frumns like this reflects the views mainly from a business point of view.
Your sugegstion is great. Especially when you stands for a direct democracy rather than particpatory democrary.

What ever be the the political system, if it cannot inlfuence the economic order it becomes useless.
With all the existing laws , a chief minister cannot make a druggist to sell a medicine to a poor dying patient, if the patient do not have the money to pay for it, what ever little it is. That means current system forces every one using economic corecion. Any kind of freedom or democracy, which cannot liberate the the people from the economic coercion is worthless.

Anonymous said...

Coming back to this blog after a long time. I had visited this blog months ago and had left my opinion in the "Join Save Kerala" link. I didnt feel like visiting this blog because of the huge amount of negative energy flowing in this blog (and I now understand that it was not just my feeling, but many have accused you of the same).

I have been seeing some good things happening in Kerala in the last few weeks like signing up of the SmartCity Project, the bold action by V.S against the illegal enchroachments.But I dont see any post here projecting those achievements by the state from any of the bloggers here who otherwise are so active in bring Weekly reports (Kerala this Week) and keep ranting about the shortfalls in the state.
I'm not a Leftist by any means, but friends,if somebody does something good we need to stand up and give credit to them..

Anonymous said...

All gone? No new essays in the last six weeks, what's going on

Anonymous said...

very nice article

Anonymous said...

1. Social equality as in women being able to to walk/drive without fear of being molested, teased etc. in the dark. Women being able to travel in buses without fear of being groped by men. Ensure a broad-minded society. This can be brought about only by education in schools and at home.
2. Ensure that development does not dirty or bring chaos to a once clean and peaceful Kerala.
3. Broaden roads, create 2-way or 4 way lanes to minimize accidents.
4. Enforce rules and regulations so that people are not allowed to get away with crime, even minor crimes like speeding.
5. Be a pioneer for rest of India to follow in fields of health, research, environment and even technology.
6. Continue with the good Panchayat system that is in place in Kerala which is used as a model by other states to follow.
7. Create townships that are well planned.
8. Be a model for cleanliness!

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