I am presently in Kerala for the past few days. Lack of rains and lack of any type of help at home are the two not so new elements we face now. In 2006, in one of my earlier visits we saw that Shri V S Achuthanandan took charge as the new Chief Minister of the State. I decided to publish an open letter to him. I chose to publish it in The New Indian Express. In fact after sending it, I had a brief telephonic discussion with Shri George Abraham, the Editor of the daily. The daily did not use it.
Certain unique developments in Kerala troubled any visitor to the State. On October 4, 2005 I referred to some of it in a letter to the editor of The Tribune. You may access it as:
The Tribune October 4, 200
Guidelines needed on campus polls
The editorial “Campus elections” (Sept 21) reminds me of the campus election scene in Maharajas College, Ernakulam, during 1958-63. There were enough political distractions to destroy the career of even hard working students.
Accompanied by my father, I entered the campus for the first time. We had our first shock. Half a dozen students showered notices on us. It was a part of the election propaganda. Different political parties supported them.
Students agitated successfully against the increase in bus fare from six paisa to 10 paisa. Many students became leaders because of this One anna samaram. Hostels were hotbed of politics. But none enrolled as “permanent” students to continue their political activities.
My contemporaries, Mr A.K. Antony and Mr Vayalar Ravi, have made their mark in politics. Now campus politics is taking its toll. There must be guidelines to control this activity. Enough is enough.
— Dr K.S. PARTHASARATHY, Mumbai
Some conditions have changed in the State. Others remained. I am reproducing the letter below.
AN OPEN LETTER TO SHRI V S ACHUTHANANDAN
I was exhilarated to hear that a person like you from very humble beginnings, took over as the chief minister of Kerala. I attribute your success to your spartan life style, hard work and dedication to the cause of the under-privileged and above all your no nonsense and brutally frank attitude against moral turpitude and corruption.
I have no political affiliations. I work in Mumbai. I retired after 41 years of service, 21 years in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and rest in the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. After retirement, the Department of Atomic Energy offered me Raja Ramanna fellowship
Two unconnected items inspired me to send this open letter to you; campus politics and behaviour of head load workers. My views on them may be very different from yours. But I request you to consider them impartially on their merit.
I was born in to a middle class family. I studied in Maharajas College Ernakulam because of the admirable will of my father and the munificence of a relative..
In 1958, as we entered the college campus for the first time, we had our first shock. Half a dozen students showered notices on us. It was a part of the election propaganda. Different political parties supported them. My father extracted a promise that I shall never enter politics.
He knew my overwhelming propensities to extra curricular activities! I never missed a chance to attend public meetings. I loved to speak. I was secretary of the school literary and debating society for many years.
Students agitated successfully against the increase in bus fare from six paisa to 10 paisa. Many students became leaders because of this “One anna samaram”. Hostels were hotbed of politics. But, as in northern States, none enrolled as “permanent” students to continue their political activities.
My contemporaries, Mr A.K. Antony and Mr Vayalar Ravi, have made their mark in politics. T.V.R.Shenoy and K.M Roy went into journalism. I do not know whether any one discontinued their studies because of political activities. We may never know that.
I was shocked to hear that mindless violence due to uncontrolled political activities had snuffed out the life of a few students, some of them from the middle class families
I believe that campus politics is taking its toll. There must be guidelines to control this activity. Enough is enough. That brings me to the first point. You know that the Supreme Court had set up the Lingdoh Committee to examine and consider all aspects relating to the conduct of student elections, such as aspects affecting the academic atmosphere in educational institutions including, but not limited to, indiscipline and divisions on the basis of political beliefs and such other avoidable considerations.
The Committee may submit its recommendations shortly. I request you to act on the recommendations impartially, and courageously whatever may be your political views.
Recently, I have been to Kerala. I never believed that the head load workers extract their pound of flesh in every “head load work” in every village without doing any work!. The instance in point involved, the transport of a few unproductive cocoanut trees which were bought by a broker at the rate of Rs 10 per metre .
The total amount involved Rs 2000/- The buyer employed six men to cut the trees and to load them on to a lorry. As soon as the loading operation was over, two head load workers appeared from no where; there were some whispering discussions; the broker told me later that he paid Rs 350/- to them as is the practice to “avoid complications”. This criminal extortion is worse than naked thuggery.
I do not grudge paying the workers handsomely their dues; but what is revolting is that they collect the money and do no work.
On May 13, this year a leading Malayalam daily reported that three head load workers were suspended for demanding and claiming Rs 15,000/- as “Nokku Koolie” from Shri P.Vijayan who owns a firm in H.M.T. Industrial Estate at Kalamassery. He used a crane on a holiday to unload some machinery imported from Switzerland.
The report also contained a warning from the city police commissioner that he will take strict action against those who violate the existing provisions. Police did take action on such complaints at Mattanchery. Notwithstanding that, the practice prevailed in Kalamassery. I understand that it prevails in every village and town.
Later, I read the Kerala loading and unloading(regulation of wages and restrictions of unlawful practices)Act, 2002. I realized that this comprehensive law is violated with impunity. Sir, you must make it unambiguously clear that this law will be enforced strictly. I did not find anything unfair in this piece of legislation.
[ Dr. K.S.Parthasarathy is former Secretary, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board]
Now “Nokkukuli” may not be a serious issue. Political violence including even murders continue in some parts of Kerala. Not a welcome sign!