From favouritism to communalism Sunday, Apr 1 2012 

Vellappally Natesan

Vellappally Natesan

SNDP  Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan has urged that Ministers should not show partiality towards members of their community. The general secretary’s complaint is that the ministers are mostly appointing people from their own community in their personal staff and government agencies in their control. The posting of government officials were also being influenced by communal considerations.

Mr. Natesan’s complaint is genuine and need to be addressed. However, the problem is that Mr. Natesan’s organization represents one of the major communal lobbying groups in the State. It is not unknown that the NSS, SNDP, the churches and others lobby for “adequate representation” of their communities in the choice of candidates for elections and minister ships.

Naturally, those who become ministers on the basis of communal lobbying tend to favour their communities disproportionately. The malady could be cured only if communal groups stop their lobbying and allow democratic parties and governments to make their choices based on merit.

Mr. Natesan has also complained that discrimination in the allotment of land at Vagamon. He said that while the Muslims were given 300 acre at Thangalmala and Christians 270 acres at Kurisumala, the Ezhavas were given only 25 acres at Murukanmala.

However, the larger issue here is whether it is proper for governments to donate large extents of public lands to religious entities. What we see at Vagamon is that the government is now catering to various communities instead of evicting large scale encroachments at Vagamon by various individuals and groups.  There is little doubt that the donations are for favour received by politicians during elections and other occasions from religious groups.

LDF’s new strategy Thursday, Jun 3 2010 

In an earlier posting, KeralaViews wrote about LDF getting jittery over its electoral prospects. That jittery phase is almost over and the LDF has started drawing up strategies carefully to regain its lost ground. It may be a bit surprising that the first indication of this had come from the Chief Minister V. S. Achuthandnan, despite his rout in the party.

He said that communalism is growing in the Christian and Muslim community. Neutral observers may regard it as a statement of fact. However, Achuthanandan has stated that now just to endear himself to the majority community.

The strategic shift to woo the majority community over earlier attempts to woo the Muslims by even giving in to fundamentalism, however, leaves the party with baggage from the past. The PDP has to be discarded. However, it is yet to be seen whether the party would abandon all those who had helped it in the past and probe all the fundamentalist activities that had taken place in Malappuram and other districts to the root. The Indian National League has already sensed the drift and decided to call it a day. It would be leaving the LDF after a 16-year old liaison.

The CPI (M)’s attempts to woo the Christian community were a stalled effort for long. The community had voted overwhelmingly against the LDF in the Lok Sabha elections. Now that the Kerala Congress has left the camp, the party has virtually severed links with the community. The Kerala Congress faction led by P. C. Thomas could only be a liability in carrying forward with its new strategy. Mr. Thomas was a person who had been debarred from contesting the elections for the next three years for openly using communal card in the election campaign. Hence, the reluctance to grant Ministerial berth to the party.

In the last Lok Sabha elections, many in the Ezhava community had voted against the LDF because of its links with the PDP and other factors. The LDF can now hope to regain some of these votes through the new strategy. (It has already lost minority votes and may lose some more. Yet a net gain could be expected.)

The strategy may also help the State. The political protection that extremists got in the past may dissipate. As the LDF distances itself from minority communalism, the UDF would not be compelled to cater to communalists and fundamentalists. This is already showing through its resistance to bargaining by Kerala Congress. The Muslim League had to abandon talks with the Jama-ate-Islami.

However, the new strategy may not yet save the LDF from impending defeat in the coming elections. Their failure to govern and the riches of the CPI(M) and the corruption that goes with it is indeed a heavy baggage.

Terrorism: Kerala could be a sitting duck Monday, Nov 3 2008 

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at bomb blast site at Guwahati, Assam last month

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at a bomb blast site in Guwahati, Assam, last month -- PIB

The bomb blasts in different parts of the country should be a wake up call for Kerala and several other States. Intelligence and security arrangements remain inadequate in Kerala that it is impossible for extremists to target any place in Kerala. Security is lax even at important establishments and locations.

Kerala has several factors that would act as a protective net terrorism from within. The first and foremost is perhaps the support for communist ideologies among the populace. Second is the presence of significant population of Christians and large majority of Hindus and Muslims who are not sympathisers of any extremist activity. (Extremists flourish only when they have roots in the communities and get sympathy and support.) The absence of Cosmopolitan cities and limited population of those from Northern States was another advantage. That made it easy for the police to track outsiders. However, this advantage is being lost with the influx of migrant workers from States such as Bihar, West Bengal  and  recruitment of criminal gangs by extremist organisations. However, it is to the credit of the Muslim community that hardly anyone could be recruited from Kerala by ideological brainwashing.

Despite all this favourable factors, it should concern the State that large sums are flowing into the State from foreign sources. There could be sleeping cells across the State that could be called into action by outside forces any time. In a subtle way, there are also moves to open up channels for public communication by several quarters. These have to be watched carefully as they could be used for subtle communal and ideological propaganda. This applies to both majority and minority communities.

Kerala ran into this situation because of the vote bank politics and resultant communal appeasement policies. Even mainstream political parties courted communal parties with extremist views to secure votes. As a result, deeper investigation into incidents such as the Marad massacre, burning of cinema theatres in Malappuram district and Tamil Nadu transport bus in Kochi, bomb blasts at Kadalundi and Thrissur , hawala, money laundering cases and dubious land transactions were undermined. Telltale developments at places like Kottackal and neighbouring areas, training camp at Vagamon and functioning of dozens of organisations with dubious agenda were ignored.

As the Malayalam saying goes, Kerala is now in a situation that it now would have use a spade to take out what could have been removed with a needle (Soochikondedukedathu, Thoombakondu Edukkuka).

India burning Sunday, Aug 31 2008 

Collapse of governance and administration in parts of India

Several parts of India are becoming unmanageable. The politicians are mismanaging several issues while celebrating economic progress of the country. This could ultimately neutralise progress and push the country into anarchy.

Jammu and Kashmir flared up over a minor issue, which would have been amicably resolved. Orissa is aflame in another communal flare up. Naxalites are getting rooted in several parts of the country. Their actions had also triggered the communal flare up in Orissa. Even after a week, the government has failed to restore order in Orissa.

What happened in Gujarat about five years ago cannot be forgotten. It was State-sponsored terrorism. Now, terrorists are retaliating with bombs.

The county’s IT capital is witnessing not only bomb attacks but also violence of parochial issues. Mumbai also saw bomb blasts. Security agencies are far from being able to prevent such attacks. Insurgency is ranging in North Eastern States for years.

In Kerala, ruling party supporters are releasing their men from police stations by force (report about latest incident). The police are inactive against underground operations of extremists in the State.

Perhaps the worst is happening in Bihar. Criminals are not even sparing the victims of a devastating flood.

India is not shining. The country’s glorious culture is fading.


A time for cold realism