Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tourism Rediscovered In God's Own Country

On November 1st, Kerala celebrated its 51st year of formation. And very aptly, the people of Kerala [at least the section that calls themselves BJP supporters - another party that has supports beyond the minimum number of people required to call a bandh/ strike that can disrupt life in Kerala and bring the state to a standstill - for the uninitiated, that magic figure is five (5)].

I happened to be in Kerala on that special day and observed how the state and its people were transforming and "progressing" with all these bandhs and shutdowns. One of the most important indicators of this transformation was the innovation the people have shown to survive these bandhs. Almost every household now has a collection of display boards made specially for their vehicles so that they can move around unharmed. It could indicate one of the following: "Vivaham", Ambulance, Police, Airport, Milk, or a Black flag. Any of these will most likely see you get to your destination without much harm. (DOC Tip for Readers: If at all possible, use the "Vivaham" (marriage/ wedding) sign - This is the Ace card as far as Kerala is concerned. If you are part of the wedding industry, all parties will welcome you and let you pass, no matter what the political agenda is.)

Bandhs are becoming so common in Kerala, that even tourists visiting the state carry their own "vivaham" board. Even Living Planet and other travel guides are recommending the same. Probably thats one reason why we are witnessing more foreigners getting married in Kerala.

Tourism Minister was not too much off the mark when he quipped last year that Kerala should open itself to "Bandh Tourism", and according to him more and more foreigners are visiting Kerala only to witness the bandhs and hartals. Inspired by his own discovery, he has not done much to promote any conventional tourist infrastructure.

Not to be left behind, other ministers and government officials have done their bit to promote tourism in their own ways.

CM is the biggest contributor to the tourism industry, beating the nearest competitor, the Leela Kempinski group, by a huge margin. It is said that people are visiting Kerala by the hordes to learn his gestures and humor (if I may use the word). He is now a close competition to George Bush, President of USA, as the leading political-cartoon character of the world. Apparently, yesterdays press-conference helped him up his ratings substantially when he said "Nature gives us rains. We should accept it and bear the difficulties caused. If the water comes in, find a way to get it out'' . This was in response to the havoc rains are causing to the state, and the pathetic roads and drainage systems in the state.

With a small collaboration, and a little help from the rains, the Water Resources Ministry and the Public Works Ministry have claimed that they have fulfilled their responsibilities in promoting tourism with the much-awaited Inland Waterway project. Since the actual project involved investments, planning, science etc, they decided to take an easier route to completion. The phase I, they believe will help both the water authority and the surface transport authority.

Inland Waterway Project, Phase I - Both surface and water transport feasible
- Pic Courtesy: Cosmet Surgeon via email

But they are more thrilled about the Phase II of the project, which they believe will help the common man as well as the Tourism industry. Phase II is already implemented at a few regions (see pic below), and will be extended to the entire length of the state before the end of this Government's term.

Inland Waterway Project, Phase II to benefit common man
- Pic Courtesy: Cosmet Surgeon via email

The only hindrance to the execution of the phase II they say is a clearance from the Fisheries Ministry. Although the central government has questioned they need for such a project, the government said it has decided to proceed with the implementation since its in the interest of the common man.

The State Health Ministry, in line with the Health Tourism plans of the Indian Government, also contributed significantly to the industry. Recent epidemics and disruptions in various health programs have resulted in a surge of visitors from other states and countries, especially organizations like the WHO, Union Health Ministry, etc. As long as people visit the state, does it matter why or for what?

The only underperformer has been the Education Ministry. With just controversies (ISRO, IIT, IISc, private medical colleges,..what not!), scams, campus murders (we have already forgotten the recent murders), and strikes and shutdowns in colleges and schools, more and more parents are sending their children out of the state. Its almost similar to the situation in the 60s and 70s, when Keralites went to "Gelf" to earn a living and escape from the horrors in Kerala. We got through the 80s and 90s solely on the Gelf money. Now its the turn of Bangalore and Chennai and Coimbatore money to get us through the 2010s and 2020s. Until then we have a fledgling Tourism Industry.

Welcome to God's Own Country. Dont forget your "vivaham" board!


silverine said...


We used the 'vivaham' board when we went from Tvm airport to Poovar Islands :p On our way back we were asked to detour due to some political sammelanam and had to reach the airport via the "Vizhinjam" port! That was a close encounter with the political culture of Tvm :) I can only imagine what the people living there have to endure!

silverine said...

p.s No apologies if there was a "lack of clear understanding' in my comment? :|

mathew said...

nice one..and sad too..

and we are talking about have expressways and hovercraft much for all the hype!!

Anonymous said...


Md Mudassir Alam said...

We always heard that Kerala is GOD's Own Country. But for the first time I read that someone call's KERALA as "DOG's OWN COUNTRY". This is height of creativity and takes one closer to reality. I liked ur blog, visit my blog about Kerala

MC said...

@ silverine - ahh.. so you are my witness..people think i am cooking up things here. :) glad you made it in one piece. thanks to vivaham. and no apologies required.

@ mathew - of course, no problem in talking big..and thinking small..thats exactly the trait thats ruining kerala.

@ sunil - thank you sir

@ mudassir - i dont know if creativity can take you closer to reality..but this is reality :)

Unknown said...

@MC Excellent piece of writing. Our shared dreams of improving Kerala is never going to work; as long as we have the myopic morons at the helm of power.Readind DOC blogs is an escapist fare from reality. Keep up the good work.

abhishek said...


Been remiss here for a while, but excellent post and update on state of affairs.

Question: can we use "red cross" as a suitable substitute for the "vivaham" board? I think the beloved fighters for the "peoples' rights" are on to us. By us, I mean that elitist, burgeouise minority who happen to work in the private sector or are self-employed and have to go to work to earn our wages and salaries. Oh and 90% is a minority.

Nothing will change unless we form an alternative to all present political parties.

Kartik Menon said...

I can sense the pain when you write about roadblocks???So how many times did you have to have a "Vivaham" during bandhs.

Nice blog man..Keep it up

Anonymous said...

pl check the folowing to know what global tourists think of our great GOC or DOC as you call it

Our channels and print media give so much of importance to how complete was the bandh,rather than emphasising on how the common citizen sufferred due to the bandh,while rest of his fellow citizens across the borders go about minding their business.

MC said...

@ madhavan - hopefully reading DOC will spread the word..slowly but surely.even if its just a few people.

@ abhishek - so nice to hear from you again abhishek.

you are absolutely right about the minority bit.. the funda that a majority can do any darn thing and its "justice" is the biggest rubbish i have heard. and thats why we have these party scoundrels running amok here.

very true about the alternative.. the time will come for us. i am sure.

@ kartik - its gonna be my 91st vivaham this year when the next bandh happens :)

@ sujay - i really liked a recent suggestion that media should totally STOP giving attention to politics, but only to development and actual issues - i mean who cares whats happening in the pinarayi versus achu camp or the karunakaran versus murali camp? thousands do! and thats the problem. its time these political scumbags (of which there are too many) got a life, and did something useful for the land and its people.

MC said...

@ anonymous - thank you for being a "man enough" to leave an anonymous comment. appreciate it.

the first thing to improve in life is to be humble and dignified enough to correct ones mistakes and change. that is lacking in the malayali clan in general, probably because they are too consumed in their egos and false sense of pride. and if saying this disgraces any one, so be it.

and i have never been to america yet, but would love to do so soon :)

Anonymous said...

Hey friend.., really great blog..was just wondering why u have not yet added google adsense to this blog.. if so would be giving you a really great income..

Please visit for touching stories and poems

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

well written-much more effective than the ravings people like me indulge in.

Anonymous said...

@Anon who thinks MC is a digrace please read this. Specially the para "No exceptions"

manbearpig said...

MC, your blog is hilariously heartbreaking. I am not dissing you, but what do you intend to do about it? From a reply from you for a previous comment I gather that you are still living in Kerala. If you are blogging out of a genuine concern about where our motherland is going, and not - like most bloggers - out of a desire for internet fame, please in your next post blog out details of any initiative/NGO/whatever that you are a part of that is active in an effort to cure Kerala of this apathy. If you are just another one of those Keralites who love to badmouth their home but back off when asked to do something about it, well, what can I say?

Agn! Sharman said...

Kerala is one of the sought after International tourist destinations in Asia.

Kerala has a unique geographical features that has and is attracting tourist from across the globe.
Kerala is the south west tip of India, enclosed by the Arabian Sea on the west and Western Ghats on the east.

This coastline state of India stretches to about 600 Kilo Meters of clean beaches, serene backwaters, green paddy fields, swaying coconut lagoons, dense green jungles and hill stations.

Kerala's rich and uique art forms and a highly literate society has always been a part of its Unique selling point.

Kerala! the charming, seductive, serene, exotic and blessed land is no wonder called "God's Own Country".

As Jose says ( "When life gets your heart tiring, think of KERALA, and here the nature will heal you".

In the following linked pages, I attempt to give you some facts and useful information about Kerala.

All information may not be up-to-the-date, but will be useful for sure.

I have also included a discussion forum and a chat page to make this website and your experience visiting it more lively.

Thank you,

Agni Sharman

Anonymous said...

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Indian tour planner a travel agent has launched off season packages for kerala. The packages ranges from 4 days to 10 days. visit kerala tours to find kerala tour packages.


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