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?