Monday, November 28, 2011


Thekkadi is lovely from my memories of 1968. My father's sister's husband took us there for a weekend, and I cannot remember if we saw  elephants or not. The word dam was not in our vocabulary, nobody thought Thekkadi was a dam.
Now that the debates on Dam sites, seismic zones and the advantage of small dams are well in place, why should there be a discussion of Kerala's intention to protect its people? Kerala and Tamil Nadu are symbiotic, Kerala's vegetables come from Tamil Nadu. Quite often people miss their flights from Coimbatore if they do not leave well in time from Pallakad because of the truckers jamming the road both ways. Its an old relationship, older than Madras Presidency, and the crafts of the two lands were entrenched by frequent crossings, and a common vocabulary. The Malayalis and the Tamils understand each other perfectly. The Malayalis are well aware of the dangers of construction being one of the greatest producers of engineers. Just ask the question "How many engineering colleges do you have in Kerala?" as I asked of a engineering Professor who was on the train from Haripad to Trivandrum going to a conference, and the answer would dazzle anyone. My friend Tara and I travelling through Pallakad, Haripad, Allapuzha and Trivandrum realised suddenly thats why the humanities do not show up significantly in general education. But then, what about the Kerala Sociologists conference? How many turn up for those? The number there too is stunning. Or for the Film conferences in Trivandrum initaited by Beena Paul. And now the Literature conferences too show how involved the Malayalis are with postmodernity and its questions. The dam is not about control, it is about a  continuing relationship which includes town, country and tribal settlements, and the survival of several millions of people. Small dams are the political motif as the save ganga projects have clearly communicated, and this dam too must be rethought for the future of the earth in just such terms.

FDI and other things

Long ago I was invited to a discussion on industrialisation of agriculture and was quite aghast to see the then President, Prof Abdul Kalam and all the industrialists completely ready to industrialise agriculture without preliminary debate. Science had won it seemed, as they all smiled urbanely at one another in FICCI auditorium. Regardless of the plight of the farmers who produce bumper crop season after season without consideration of their own dreadful poverty, the state keeps suggesting that industrial farming is what will get us to occupy Mars at the earliest. The offer is ofcourse valid, but do we want to take it? Definitely not. Cash crop agriculture is one thing, but industrialised farming is quite another. The loss of lives in the rural sector should first be handled because multinationalism is not going to address this. The problem with politicians is that they cannot hear themselves, and they think everyone else is outdated. Learning from the mistakes of the west is something they never even imagine to be part of what they do. Ridding the countryside of the farmers who do form co-operatives, who can communicate what they need very clearly seems the obligation of the politicians ruling today. The jobs promised to the displaced rural youth is a small token while taking away livelihoods from millions of their kin. Since nothing happens without the consent of the people, it is unlikely that this move will succeed. Party affiliation is not obligatory to have freedom of speech, or to demand discussion over the most important events of the moment.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Murder most foul

I was flying over Cochin at 6 pm last evening, and told my friend Tara who was travelling with me that I loved Cochin.  I have never lived there, but often travelling over Kerala by bus, I ride through peaceful lovely Kochi, with its Chinese sails and limpid waters. Time stops still in Kochi. As we reached Delhi last night, at 10.45 p.m the lights over the city were symmetrical, titanium lights which was the same colour as the chopped up orange brown moon which echoed the street lights of the ordered night of the capital city. How tragic that Sr Valsa John was killed in Jharkhand for protecting the indegenous people of that terrain. We use so much electricity all the time, and the coal merchants have their empires too. Today walking to Munirka, I saw some children climbing a tree for firewood, for the dead branches which were very high up. The girl who was straddled on the branch in the dusty middle class suburb of Delhi was foraging for fire wood, not breaking or chopping, but collecting dead wood.