Friday, August 31, 2007

Cancer In Our Schools?

One of the biggest flaws in the educational system of Kerala (for a while lets just imagine there is still a system) is that it is highly politicized, like everything else in Kerala, whether it is an organization, community, religious group, or probably, even the mind of the average Keralite. While politics is a necessary evil, it is quite evident that politicizing the youth at a time when they are quite naive (and full of energy to do better things) has only resulted in damage than anything constructive.

Schools and colleges are meant to be sacred, and supposed to impart quality education, nurture talent and creativity, help develop skills, and build the next generation that can take themselves and the nation forward with greater might and strength. Where does politics fit in such a place? It does not. I have seen so many people argue about the need for politics in campus and I feel they are just blind proponents of their own selfish interests or subversive minded political supporters. It is the same bunch of fools that oppose initiatives by even the Supreme Court (refer to the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations) to curb politics in educational institutions. Youth (supposedly) outfits of various political parties have cunningly tried to rubbish the report by trying to find loopholes within the recommendations, instead of understanding the larger message. Do we need more violence in campuses? Do we need many more Prof.Sabharwals dying? Do we need more of our youth to become pawns of our politicians?

While the presence of students representatives within every college and institution is very essential, linking and aligning them with political organizations and parties is the biggest blunder possible. Student-representatives will definitely help in nurturing leadership and harboring spirited and loyal youthfulness, but bringing in political alliances and support will only help in developing pawns and political mercenaries.

Its sad that such a pathetic system is already well-entrenched in our state, and most of India. It is the primary reason why we have uneducated and uncouth political leaders ruling over us, whose sole motive is filling their own pockets and promoting their own interests. It is the very reason why we have so much corruption, crime, and immorality splashed allover. It is the reason why most of the energy in India's youth remain misdirected. It is also the very same reason that voters are left without a choice, and why voters are caught between the devil and the deep-sea when it comes to polling day -left, right, or central, every way we end up electing buffoons and goons to rule over us, except for a few smart and sensible leaders worthy of being called a leader.

While making a minimum level of education mandatory for getting elected in any position in the government, be it local, state or central, is far away (since most of the current politicians will be disqualified and they will not allow it), we can at least start building for a better tomorrow. Let students study while they are meant to study. Those who are really interested in building the nation can do so by devoting themselves to their own professions and work - that will build the true Kerala (and India), not protests and marches under the behest of politicians for the gain of the party. And one can always enter mainstream politics after a proper education and proper service/ professional experience.

It is so ironic to think how absurdly we mandate minimum educational qualifications for every position right from a peon to a CEO, but we dont mind uneducated, senseless "leaders" or criminals and thugs to rule over us. We harp on the importance of education, but fail to give it enough priority when it comes to our states and country and the people who represent us, locally, nationally or internationally.

Delinking and banning political organizations from schools and colleges will be the most important step we can take, and will be the biggest turning point for our states and nation. It will promote the entry of sense and logic into governance, and will also transform the political parties and their priorities.

A banner in front of a prestigious institution in Trivandrum

The above picture was one of the most disturbing sights I have seen in Kerala of late. Party flags and political banners are not only seen in colleges, but a common sight even in schools. Prestigious institutions succumbing to the cancer called politics, the same disease that also promotes fundamentalism, casteism and religious divides. Many years ago, when the University College in the capital was the hub of political activity, demonstrations, violence, and clashes were a regular feature at the MG Road in Trivandrum. I remember a particular story about how the demonstrators torched a taxi car along with other state cars. The reason? The bunch of innocent "students" who were on the rampage could only recognize the words "Kerala State" from the "Tourist Taxi - Kerala State Permit" sign on the car.

Kerala has been witness to countless student agitations at the behest of their political masters. Violence and senseless destruction of public and private property worth crores occurs every time, and all that we have done is sympathize with them for their criminal acts. Each time we find some justification and excuse to pardon such acts, while blaming police excesses. It is the same senselessness that allows a banner like that in the picture in front of an old reputed institution, now successfully eroded of its reputation and quality. I wonder why the teachers and the principals of these schools and colleges are not ashamed to see that every morning. What is the message we are trying to send across to our children? Where do we put an end to it?

Ban political parties from educational institutions. Every single person reading this will hopefully vow to do everything possible to delink themselves from campus politics promoted by parties and put an end to it. At least make sure your children go to schools and colleges to study, and not to become dropouts who aspire to be a "leader" among packs of wolves. They can be true leaders after getting sufficient education and experience in conducting themselves first, and then they can dream of building the nation.
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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kerala This Week, Vol 5, August 2007

On behalf of the Save Kerala Initiative team and its supporters (or our "buddies who hang around and support each other blindly" as someone recently said), I would like to wish all of you a very happy and prosperous Onam.

The image of the week (on the top right) is from Trivandrum, near the Kanakakunnu Palace, where the famed illuminations occur every year. I was lucky enough to pass the road and catch a glimpse of the "lights" as they are known. Pretty much all of Kerala seems to be shopping for Onam and every road and shop is literally packed. So let me start with saying this: Kudos to the spirit in which Onam is celebrated by Keralites. Its nice to see that every family makes a sincere effort to celebrate this festival, irrespective of religion, caste or politics.

Now onto the less heartening stuff. On the same road, a little further I saw two girls on a kinetic honda casually overtake a maruti zen with 3 mallu youngsters in it. The car must have been moving at 40kmph until the girls overtook them. But as soon as they saw 2 "girls daring to overtake" them, their manhood literally got challenged I suppose. And then the youth were transformed into mad men. They almost ran down a few others and overtook the girls, and cornered their kinetic! Crazy! But this is a sight I have seen too commonly in Kerala.

I also observed another "usual thing". Men letching at anything female. It really irks you if you observe how some of the mallu men burn a hole through these women, and passing slimy comments. This is one of the most horrible and disgusting habits in malayali men in my opinion. I wonder how women survive in Kerala. I mean the average woman who does not have a car to escape these dogs, but has to travel in a bus and walk on the crowded roads. So my second kudos go to the women in Kerala. I also hope each one of you does what it takes to condemn such acts and behavior when you see it.

And another sight I observed today was even more shocking! Malayalis standing in a queue! God! That's one of the rarest sights you will ever see. I havent seen them stand in a line in banks, or cinema halls, or shops or..anywhere there is supposed to be a queue. Even in church they have to do a stampede, as though God will run away if they dont rush. But today, I saw almost over 50 malayali men stand in one long line, disciplined, quiet and looking very earnest. No points for guessing where: Kerala State Beverages Corporation Limited - Indian Made Foreign Liquor outlet. The queues were seen almost at every outlet they have - which is almost at every 1000 meters. Apparently the sales just during the Onam days is set to cross a record 80 crores this time!! And no wonder the roads were filled with drunken maniacs today, despite heavy presence of policemen. So once again I salute the women in Kerala. For working hard and looking after themselves, for caring and bring up their children, for earning enough so that their husbands can drink, and for doing all this despite the abuse and torture.

Since I do not want to go on about these things and spoil our Onam (will save the Kurivillas, Achuthanandans, mosquitoes, fever, antinuclear bandhs, and all such things for next week), heres once again wishing all of you a very special Onam. Let us all unite and work towards a better Kerala. Like they say, it has to begin at home.
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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Kerala This Week, Vol 4, August 2007

The last few weeks have been rife with examples of illiterate leaders ruling over a supposedly literate Kerala, a state full of people who are ever willing to be donkeys for the sake of politicians and the all powerful, invisble, super power, called the society.

Topping the list, and creating headlines (pushing aside the Munnar rampage and the demolition squad which fizzled out in front of the AKG center and "party offices") was the release of a Madani. Charged on some 23 accounts related to the Coimbatore blasts some years ago, the beloved leader is now back directly from jail to front page politics, as though he fought for India's independence. And the state politicians have been wooing him with utmost devotion. His "rally" in Trivandrum was "emotional" and "fiery", and was chaired by two ministers. I have nothing against or for Madani, but the ministry "rallying" with him is a bit shameful in my opinion. And the government is sponsoring his "treatment", that too in a private hospital.

This is the same government thats "helpless" when its people are dying because of some fever which they are yet debating and referring textbooks for, the same set of leaders that blame the central government while doing nothing for its flood ravaged people. So where does all that concern they have for Madani disappear when it comes to the people of Kerala?

The other most interesting show happening now is the "fight against retail chains". We have had hartals, demonstrations, threats, stone-throwing, etc against Reliance, Walmart and other retail chains entering Kerala. While on one hand we gloat that we have Spencer's (since decades) and Margin Frees', in the same breath we also oppose these new companies (just like we opposed Coca Cola and Pepsi while drowning ourselves in alcohol and smoking beedis). The reason? That we still need to be mistreated by the local shopkeeper, and his total lack of interest in us as customers (or even your existence in his shop when you go to buy something!), and that we still need to be forced to take only what the Vyapari Vyepasaris dictate.

There was a debate on "Nammal Thammil" on Asianet last night. One educated (not literate, mind you) professor argued that over Rs. 100,000 crore worth produce is wasted ever year in India due to lack of proper distribution, sales or exports, and that these retail chains will only boost sales and reduce this wastage. The men from the VV samithi, dressed in the evil khader uniform, as usual responded with their snideful retort, saying "we all know" that Reliance and the likes have paid money to educated people to speak like this and argue on their behalf in public forums. You can never argue and win a point with such people, forget making them understand. Like they say, never argue with idiots, because they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

It is the same "experience" that wins accolades for leaders in Kerala for being irresponsible. Take for example, how our minister shirked responsibility and said he will picket the PMs house if the central government doesnt help the flood hit state. He pretended he had nothing to do with the state, he said its all the center's fault, and we, the people, clapped. It is also the same experience that sent Special Task Forces to demolish buildings across the state, ruining crores of rupees, instead of acquiring them and running them as government buildings. (The STF is now without its two poster boys; both have been sent on extended leaves for "treatment")

Some from the VV samithi say, only at Narayanan's shop do we get the local feel and homely atmosphere, but not at any retail chain. But not everyone wants to hear Narayanan or Keshavan or George or whoever gossip anymore, or waste our money on substandard stuff, or even sniff the stink of local politics anymore. And for those who do, Narayanan will surely be there. He doesnt survive on sales of Kellogs or Dove. It is the same irrational fear that was instilled when Telecom and the airlines were privatised. Today majority of the people use mobile phones, and that includes the likes of Narayanan. Indian Airlines has become cheaper and at least tries to offer better service.

Its time literate Kerala went back to school and realized that our illiterate leaders are simply taking us for a ride. There are scores of promises and projects that are "proposed" and "planned". But what has happened in reality? Nothing! Except for all the investments the private companies make. Smart City (which was claimed as a victory), Vizhinjam Port, Technocity, Road projects..all are still being planned and destroyed. Planned for maximum benefit for the leaders? What change did the new government bring? Did the farmers benefit? No. Did the fisherfolks benefit? No. Only the party and the political goons and criminals benefitted and continue to benefit. And if we dont realize and change, its not that change is not going to happen. It will. Its just that we will be the losers. And the politicians will be the only people who gain.

The Central Government took over the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology in Trivandrum couple of days ago, and saved it from the politicians in Kerala, who have not even completed school but desperately fought to become its Chairman (for what??). Wonder why these people want to infiltrate all domains and positions. Havent they messed up enough? Its similar to Pawarji who cant even walk straight being the president of the cricket council, and ensuring that Indian cricket is a mess.
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