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.

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