Thursday, June 21, 2007


Is Marxism in Kerala a Religion?

I cannot help drawing an analogy between the Marxist Party in Kerala and the recent controversies regarding temples. I believe the Party behaves more like a religion than a political outfit.
The Party has become almost a byword for blind belief. Nobody has the authority to question the decisions of the Party bigwigs. Unless you toe their line, you are out. Trying to correct or re-orient the policies will invite derision and being outcast. Those who were once considered the brains of Marxism are now total discards.
The sickle and hammer is more an idol than a symbol. This idol is prominently placed in front of the temple of the Marxist party, the AKG Centre. Its replicas are coming up throughout the State at every nook and corner. The roads all along are paved on either side with this emblem in the form of flags and posters.
Temples for martyrs are being raised day by day, wherever possible. The names of these martyrs are more sacred than that of gods. Places of worship may be demolished for road-widening or other public purposes, but not these constructions. Remove a flag post and there erupts violence.
All forms of worship in temples are followed ditto by the Party. Garlanding the ‘deities’, flower offerings (Pushparchana), Thalappoli, Chendavadyam, Thayampaka, etc. are usual accompaniments to any function. Pageantries along with elephants are not unusual when welcoming esteemed leaders. Flag hoisting is a serene function. The heralding of the flag-mast from great distances, to the accompaniment of lighted torches, is done with more zeal than what is seen in religions. The annual days of leaders of bygone days are celebrated with much fanfare. Every meeting begins with lighting of the ceremonial lamp. Only ‘Karpooraaraadhana’ is missing.
Another more prominent feature of the Party is the confirmed class-difference. The echelons of Party workers are more drastically defined than the ‘Varnavivechanam’ accused of among the Hindus. It is stronger than apartheid itself. In the Bhagavat Gita, Bhagavan said: “Chathurvarnyam maya srishtam, Gunakarma vibhagasa:” (The four classes - Brahmans, Kshathriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras – were created by me on the basis of quality and duties). In the Party, workers are graded into different cadres – PB, State Council, State Committee, Branch Committees, Local Committees, ordinary followers, co-travellers, etc. and the divisions are watertight. ‘Untouchability’ in a different form is at its supreme at all levels. Non-Marxist humans are total outcasts in anything that concerns the Party. Intolerance to criticism reigns supreme. Promotion and demotion are rewards and punishments. Any act or word without respect to the party leaders is liable to be punished with demotion or expulsion. Unless you sing in praise of the Party Secretary, you cannot exist in the Party. Criticize him in speech, poems or cartoons, you invite the axe. It is heard that as many as 2,000 ardent workers of the Party at different levels have experienced the wrath of the Party Bigwig. Why, shouting slogans against a film actor invited expulsion from his parent association for a staunch party worker!
Hero worship in the Party is a two-sided sword. Know for certain whom you are praising! Choose the wrong person, and the sword flies against you.
The Thanthri in Guruvayur did not expel anyone from the religion, to say the least.. He only did some cleansing ceremony inside the temple when he was informed (perhaps wrongly) that a non-Hindu had entered the temple. None would have come to know about it unless somebody else leaked out the matter. But, in the Party, expulsion is a regular course. Anyone who is said to have acted against the ‘interests’ of the Party, according to the Chief Thanthri of CPI(M), will be expelled on the spot and without a chance for explanation. Some men in the Party are greater than gods; their curse can fall any moment for even alleged swerving. The crime can even be supporting the Melsanthi! Religions insist on unquestioned belief in God, whoever that may be. But the Party insists on indisputable allegiance to the Party Head.
Long back, in Hinduism there was divide in the form of Saivaites and Vaishnavites. Is a similar divide going to take place in the Marxist Party of Kerala - as VSites and PVites?
The comparison does not end here. Just as lesser gods used to take their complaints to Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara, the lower down party members can take their hurts and seek assuage from the Supreme Power of the Party – The PB. The authority of the PB is so supreme that it suspended two members – the Thanthri and Melsanthi from the PB for petty bickerings and envious comments! The affected take the insult lying down and continue to pass the buck downwards.
Well, temples are there for people to find refuge from their worldly worries. Devotees try to seek some solace there. But, as far as this big temple of Politics is concerned, the followers of this sect seem to walk on the edge of a sword, not sure of when they will slip down from the good books of the powers that be.

*Click on comments to express your opinion.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Should non-hindus enter Guruvayur?

The issue of Devaswom Minister Sri. G Sudhakaran writing to the Guruvayur Devaswom probing the possibility of admitting Yesudas into the temple is likely to grow into alarming proportions. Thanks to the tolerance of the Hindus and the accommodating mentality of Yesudas, it may after all, fizzle out with no consequences.
The first question here is whether the Devaswom Minister has any right to order such a step. In fact, it is not an order, but only a suggestion made in good spirit. What the Minister did not realize is that it is not under his purview to even suggest such a thing.
Temples are not public properties. Each one is, or was, owned by certain families or groups of people and is promoted by the devotees. If the devotees have faith in the particular god in the temple, it will grow in wealth and fame, as it happened in the case of Guruvayur. On the other side, there are hundreds of temples left uncared for by anybody and have no means to subsist. Nobody makes any claim over the right to enter such temples or donate anything to maintain them. The Government is vested only with the supervisory power to oversee the administration of the temples; it doesn’t have the right to make drastic changes in the traditions, conventions and rituals of the temples.
Guruvayur, as it happens, is one of the richest temples because there are thousands of devotees bent upon donating in cash and kind to its already overflowing coffers. But, it is wrong to conceive any singer as a true and faithful devotee. The songs were written by someone and tuned by some others; what he does is only render it in the sweet sound that he is blessed with, during his run to make money and fame. He cannot claim to have sung in praise of the Lord because of his devotion, since his motive was making money. True, the merchants of Bhakti might have made the best use of his cassettes in their eagerness to promote the God, but that does not enable the singer to be labeled as a true devotee. That is not enough reason to justify his entry into the precincts of the temple.
Well, for a person like Yesudas, a mere entry inside the four-walls of the temple may not be a great achievement to reckon. There are two reasons for this: One, as a singer, he has realized the ultimate God through music; secondly, the temple itself is not ‘pure enough’ for a person of his stature to enter.
The second statement requires further explanation. God does not need any protection. He is not to be contained within the four walls of the temple. It is the people, the administrators and the priests surrounding Guruvayurappan who require the walls. The rituals of the temple are meant to protect the rights of certain groups of people, and on many occasions, they cross over propriety. When devout worshippers are forced to stand in long queues for hours together to have a darshan of the God, the VIPs and VVIPs, mostly politicians and relatives of Board Members, get a free and quick entry. The regular misappropriation of the offerings and temple funds certainly need the cover of the four walls. If such things are done outside the walls, they might be termed as theft. Another ritual in question is the act of conducting ‘Punyaha’, when a non-hindu is caught red-handed, entering the temple. Who can make sure that no non-hindu enter the temple ‘incognito’ or without revealing the identity? The God is not concerned about it perhaps, but His ‘protectors’ are keen to catch such ‘culprits’ to make some money out of it. A non-hindu may not enter the temple, but if he makes a sumptuous donation, it is welcome and glorified.
Temples are social institutions to allow a certain group of people to make a living. They have nothing to do with faith in the omnipresent God. They are institutionalized in the names of certain idols bearing some name of god. The difference between the two is like that between H2O and water in a pond.
Changes in human behavior cannot be brought about in a day or by an individual. The culture of Hinduism is so strong and all-inclusive that irrational traditions will make way for rational ones in the long run. The true spirit of Hinduism enfolds everyone, to whatever caste, creed or religion one might belong. Those with vested interests may try to withhold changes for some time, but not for ever. There will be a time when the boundaries of human segregation will fade out and all will bask in the Glory of that Single God. There is light at the end of the tunnel and we are certain to move towards it in future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The Paradigm in Kerala

There is a paradigm of hierarchy existing in Kerala. Education is such in the State that it produces the following grades of students depending on their abilities:
1. The cream, the best in studies, migrate outside Kerala (to IITs, IIMs, etc.) for higher studies and jobs.
2. The lesser ones complete professional education in Kerala and get stuck in there as Engineers and Doctors;
3. Those below them get into Civil Services like IAS, IFS, IRS, IPS, etc.
4. Those who cannot achieve this, do their PGs and settle down in colleges as teachers;
5. Those with a minimum Degree settle down to become school teachers, Govt. servants, bank employees or land in other clerical work;
6. Those who pass SSLC might become Primary School Teachers who shape the conscience of children;
7. Those with a minimum education and a lot of commonsense become businessmen, traders, or owners of small enterprises; some of them somehow escape to the Gulf Countries to do even menial jobs to make some money. They are ‘praised’ as NRIs.
8. Those who could not complete even school education settle down in hard physical labor;
9. Those who are not good enough even for that become politicians;
10. The luckiest among the last lot, the ones with some crude horse-sense and a lot of thugs as followers, become ministers!
Then, all the other categories mentioned above come under the rule of these ministers.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Kerala – a mixture of paradoxes
Kerala is a veritable mixture of stark paradoxes.
On one side, there is the scenic beauty and docile people that attract tourists from all over the world. On the other side is the highly politicized atmosphere, where bundhs and hartals might break out any moment out of the blue.
On the one side is the harmonious blending of all religions, castes and cultures leading to an amicable life; juxtaposed is the increasing arms menace and occasional localized communal riots which get smothered soon enough.
Scoundrels are on the prowl, threat to life and property exists, the law and order situation is not the best; yet, people have faith in their neighbors, live a peaceful life and are generally calm by nature.
Education is in total disarray, but the children of Kerala get well under it to the extent of finding jobs in the outside world.
The Government treasury is bankrupt, but the people have enough money in their hands. Poor though their Government is, Kerala is the biggest consumer state and the highest in per capita consumption of liquor.

Trade Unions are said to make life difficult in Kerala, but everyone is willy nilly a member of some
Union or other. Each union fights for the rights of its members, yet no union comes into conflict with the others.
Politics is the bread-winner for the jobless and the public in general do not find anything wrong with that.
Those who get elected to power alternatively plunder the State’s resources continuously, but the citizens again vote them to power with zeal.
The leaders thus raised to power carry on their stealth unflinchingly.
The State doesn’t have resources of its own, but any investment from outside is treated with derision. Industries are welcome, only to be fought against and closed down.
The Central Government is kept in power by the support of all the
MPs from the State, but MPs fail to get the State’s due from the Centre.
Mother Nature is not different in its attitude.
Kerala is one of the States that get maximum rainfall, but as soon are rains are over, the State is in the grip of severe draught. There are said to be 44 rivers running through Kerala, but they are not enough to keep the fields irrigated or quench the thirst of people. Kuttanad, where there is the biggest natural water reservoir, is the place most tortured by paucity of drinking water.
The Government proclaims that it is for the poor, but hopes to finance itself through lotteries bought by the poor. The pittance given to the jobless is minus the cost of the lottery ticket.
The non-resident Keralites are worried much about the future of Kerala, but the people living in the State are least concerned. They make merry with strikes, hartals, bundhs, protests and processions.
The State is the most literate in India, but they do not seem to see beyond their own noses.
Kerala is one of the States where roads haven’t developed much since Independence, but it stands first in the sale of Cars and bikes.
The State richly deserves more highways and expressways, but acquiring land for the purpose is fraught with resistance from potential users.
Efforts towards improving hygiene and sanitation are certainly poor, but the number of tourists visiting Kerala is on the increase year by year. The cities abound with stinking heaps of garbage and singing hoards of mosquitoes, but the visitors go back with pleasant memories and vow to return.
The general apprehension about the State is that it is going to dogs, but many still believe that it is ‘God’s Own Country’!
Who knows, perhaps all the things that appear to be paradoxes might really be blessings in the scheme of things in the design of God. May God Almighty lead the State to prosperity. (Only He can do that!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


How the Politicians killed a Wise Project

Justice K. P. Radhakrishna Menon, ex-ombudsman, describes how his efforts to make Cochin a clean city were defeated by the Corporation.(Manorama dated 16.01.07 Editorial Page)
He titles the article The Ill-fate of Cochin Citizens. As the Ombudsman, he had passed many orders to maintain the City clean, but the Mayor and the Corporation were not keen on implementing them. Rather, they devised the means to defy his orders.
He cites these examples:
1. To make Cochin a clean city, the first requirement was to maintain the three Canals – Perandur, Rameswaram and Kalvathi – clean by avoiding stagnation of water. He designed a project to revive the canals with the help of the Star Hotels and Business houses in Cochin. All the expenses for the project were to be shared by these business houses. A meeting of such sponsors and the Corporation Officials was organized, but the Mayor purposely kept away from it. Though all the others welcomed the project, it could not be carried out because the Mayor did not co-operate. If the project had materialized, Cochin would have got a face-lift and the mosquito menace would have been under control.
2. Another project to fight the mosquito menace was envisaged. This involved dividing the city into five or six sectors, each one under the supervision of the business houses in that area and cleaning the drains once in a week using sea water. Orders were passed to this effect, as also for cleaning the three canals periodically. Nobody in the Corporation was interested in carrying out the orders.
3. He offered to take the initiative to discuss the issue of waste-dumping at Brahmapuram with the residents there and make an amicable settlement, but the Corporation authorities took no hand in bringing them together, providing a platform for discussion and solving the issue. The problem still continues.
4. Using the powers of the Ombudsman, he issued many orders to make Cochin a clean city. As per the Municipal Act, the Mayor was bound to obey them. The Justice issued him with Show-Cause notice for not obeying the orders, but the Mayor obtained orders from the High Court preventing the Ombudsman from taking action.
5. He was ultimately forced to shelve the efforts to make Cochin a clean city because of the offensive behavior of the Corporation authorities and the intervention of the HC. The people of Cochin are now suffering from the irresponsibility of those Officials who sit on their respective chairs pretending that cleaning the city is not their duty.
6. The difficulties suffered by the tax-paying people, especially the ordinary people who are subjected to untold miseries are beyond words. Will schemes like the Smart City under foreign Collaboration make the stinking city equal to heaven?
7. He says: “I learnt from my experience as Ombudsman that no one should expect any help or service from those who stick to their chairs under the conviction that Money power is much greater than the power of Law.”
If this is the fateful conviction of an Ombudsman, what will happen to the efforts of ordinary mortals like us?