Monday, October 06, 2008

How about a few good words....?

The other day, I got yet another of those pesky forward mails, which are the best testament to the fact that there are lots of completely jobless and ,at least, mildly sadistic people in this world. This one expounded why Kerala gets it all wrong, on the alcohol propensity of the populace, the ineptitude of its Government and the supposed lack of education among its State Cabinet. The most appalling bit about this libel was that it was being proliferated by malayalis, as evidenced by the mail trail!

Disgusted as I was at this self-deprecation, I was not amazed because it was not the first time I was witnessing this penchant for shooting ourselves in the foot. In a conversation about hartals and trade unionisation in Kerala, the voice that is usually the loudest in berating the unfriendliness of Kerala to investment is that of a malayali. Or even when he or she secretly yearns for home, many Keralites tend to sing praises of the lands where they are working and usually look down on home-sweet-home for not being "cosmopolitan".

This kind of behaviour is hard to find amongst the citizens of any other State in India, even those less fortunate than ours. Perhaps it is the congenital leanings towards a holier-than-thou attitude that make it easy to blame all the woes of the State on somebody else. When we find others praising their states, many of us are busy painting a poor picture indeed. And if Keralites don't think Kerala is a good place, who will?

Well, some people do. The October 6, 2008 edition of the Outlook magazine carries a ranking of Indian States on various parameters. Kerala ranks numero uno, finishing first not just in the usual strong points of
Education, Healthcare and Womens' Empowerment, but in the economically vital paramter of Basic Infrastructure as well.

Our State ranks high in almost all the parameters, except characteristically in Employment Generation and Poverty reduction and uncharacteristically in Security & Justice. The study also points out that Kerala's drained coffers are inhibiting further growth. The verdict is clear, Kerala is a great place to live and has the potential for growth, but it needs private investment to expand and to maintain its standard of living.

So our State and the systems that we oft berate have given us the best standard of living in India, given us a healthy, well-educated start to life. The kind of start which helps many of us to go elsewhere, look back and criticise. Which is not what a state in urgent need of private investment needs. It needs its diaspora to build a positive image which will attract investment, if not to actually invest themselves.

So next time, you are tempted to talk about "rampant trade unions" in Kerala, do remember that no one has been lynched in any labour protest in Kerala. And when you talk about hartals, that we don't shut shop when a thespian kicks the bucket. A few good words about Kerala will do us no harm, but may do our State a lot of good.

After all, if we don't speak well of Kerala, who else will?


  1. Kudos to this one! If not on your blog, where else, can one find this ;-)

    Blogland is too full of "mallu angst".
    But dont blame the ones who love the land that gives them the money too. That does not mean one looks down on one's own state. For some people, employment is the most important Human Development Index!

  2. Ajay,
    I have lived in Trivandrum for 17 years and had to leave the city for higher education.Trivandrum is close to my heart, so is Kerala.
    Armchair/cubicle activists think that they have done a great job when they poke fun at Kerala and Malayalees as a whole and then say all these are nothing but constructive criticism.

    If I may compare,a Bangalore is NOT Karnataka and vise versa. Travel just over 60-70km from Bangalore and then you will know how bad infra is, how sad the living conditions are.

    If Kerala is considered as a whole, in spite of the so called bad politicians,projects that never take off,trade unionism etc, the place is haven.

    I never say that Kerala is a perfect state.Nor are the so called cosmo cities like the hot favorite Bangalore.

    It is a high literacy rate and awareness that has caused people to know a bit too much on their rights and lead them to think,then form unions etc.
    I don't think there is any other Indian language other than Malayalam to which these many foreign classics have been translated.Again helped people form views.Same with the influence of foreign movies.

    (Chayakada kaaran vare Pablo Neruda ennokke alle parayunne)

    One more point, which I feel is that,the state is very living friendly, climate wise, accessibility wise.It has been like this since ages.So more people settled. People multiplied.These conditions explain the high population density of the state.
    A state with such a high population density and relatively well aware population, will naturally oppose something that harms the environment,something that strips them of their rights.
    This could be a reason why no major industries come to Kerala.
    There is surely going to be an action committee formed to look into the opening of an industry.

    Come what may, Kerala is a great place.And it is not my inflated ego that is working here.

    Thanks a lot Ajay for letting me write what I feel.


  3. ha for a change!! :-)

    As bombay dosti commented blogosphere is full of mallu angst/constructive criticism...and people keep saying there are so many sites which keep harping on the glories of Kerala.

    And I think WHERE?????????

    Kerala is heaven...
    Of course there are problems ailing our society just like every other developed society/country.
    Some of them acute.. some of them very common.

    For example the recent trends of hartlas are not very encouraging where the strikers entered technopark and created a scene.

    Also the state police stands mute spectators to the atrocities committed during hartals.

    But what gives me hope is that we have a society which thinks and reacts. And above all there are many optimists who haven't written off the state as "going to the dogs" yet.

    A good, timely post.
    Thanks for this. Feel a lot better.

  4. well said ajay...i often found it hard to make my freinds understand the same very point u explained in this post...every one blames kerala for the high no of hartals and bandhs we have there...but its far better than other places..look at what happend in karnataka when rajkumar died...

  5. there are some freakish and sarcastic mails all right Ajay, but I think there needs to be people to call the spade a spade. Blogs are a unique opportunity to do that.

    Why do we fret over something like a hartal or bandh? because we love our country and state; and we desperately want it to develop...Afterall thats the reason for us blogging no? I feel some sense of criticism and sarcasm is needed for some of the ideas to get across to people.something like what Munshi does in Asianet..:)

    If we all become cheerleaders then whats the point of it all?

  6. Well, Kerala has been no.1 on the parameters that Kerala is no. 1 for a long time. A reaally looong time. Kerala has been a good place to live: Since the 1980s. That was quarter a century ago.
    There are things that Kerala society is retrogressing on. Not just Kerala but the NORKA society also. We are become more castiest and religionistic.
    The things that pain most of us cubicle critics is the cost of lost opportunity. If Kerala had gone ahead with Private Engineering colleges in the 1980s and early 1990s, the IT boom would have reached Kerala much earlier. The IT industries interest in Kerala started after the talent pool became bigger, and not because of any government program.
    That said, Kerala polity provides the greatest opportunity to get involved. A person should try to attend gramasabha or residents association meetings to try a change things at the grassroot level.

  7. Lol, looks like I touched a raw nerve with a lot of you folks, I am happy to hear so much from you.

    I agree that criticism is necessary, but it should be constructive and accurate. When it becomes a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts, it can become quite harmful.

    And it is not that Kerala's sticking just to its Human Development laurels. As you can see from many studies, Kerala also comes out on top in terms of many infrastructural aspects. In terms of connectivity, internet infrastructure, reliability of electric supply, availability of water and so on, Kerala and especially Trivandrum, is much better off than many of the so-called "investor friendly" States. And in terms of Law & Order, we are miles ahead of almost any other State.

    I would like to ask these armchair critics and cynics how many of them has even sent one email out to make a positive difference. A lot of major international firms have Keralites working in top management, how many of them ever bother to find out the reality of Kerala today and bring in investment?

    The answer probably is sadder than we imagine.

  8. Kudos to u mate.. Excellant. People who blindly criticize Kerala and the attitude of the people never realise that a well being of the state is not just flyovers and MNCs in their big cities.

    I could find blogs such as " save Kerala" , "dogs own country", "inflated mallu ego" , "are mallus generally rude" . these are people who never had any serious touch with their motherland. But they still need the "Kerala" tag and identity (yes, NRKs). May be its high time they need to realise that Kerala is not a land of fools who waste their time tieing and untieing lungy.

  9. Ajay , well said mate. I posted a blog today taking inspiration from this one. Its high time we need to respond to people who blindly critise Kerala closing their eyes on facts and figures which clearly indicates that kerala is truely Gods Own country.


Thanks for your comment, I will take a look at it and put it up at the earliest.