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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Kerala Law Academy strike exposes hypocrisy of Kerala Politics

The protest before Kerala powerful Law Academy, which is arguably the first self financing college in Kerala has exposed the hypocrisy of political parties in Kerala who are adept in the art of hunting with the hound and running with the hare. Kerala Law Academy strike is one of the rare moments in Kerala politics when political parties seem to have lost equilibrium while performing the grand juggling act of balancing the interests of caste, religious and vested interest groups in Kerala with their social obligations.

All those groups have conflicting interests and all of them try to take advantage of all emerging situations in Kerala hiding their real intenstions. Successful political leaders in Kerala are those who have the ability to manage these contradictions (conflicting interests) to a certain degree on each occasion. The need to manage conflicting interests resulted in the hypocrisy prevalent in Kerala politics which claims to be progressive but is actually reactionary.

Having explained my views on Kerala politics let me come to Kerala Law Academy.  For latecomers, here is the background.

Kerala Law Academy strike and its background
A protest by students and political parties in Kerala is going on before Kerala Law Academy, Thiruvananthapuram, demanding the resignation of Lekshmi Nair, the principal of the college and daughter of the college director Mr. N Narayanan Nair accusing her of highhandedness in discharging her duties. The protestors add that the college has violated many stipulations of Kerala University to which it is affiliated. They also allege that the land of Kerala Law Academy was granted to them by the state government flouting all norms and currently the land is being misused, violating the terms for granting. While the students wing of CPM, SFI reached an agreement with management (according to which principal Lekshmi Nair will keep away from the college for five years) and withdrew strike, others are still continuing the strike demanding resignation of Lekshmi Nair and action against misuse of land.

The land originally belonged to the family of P.S Nataraja Pillai, a freedom fighter and former minister of Thiru-Kochi which was seized by Travancore government. Later, in 1967 during the time of CPM ministry lead by EMS Namboothirippad the land was granted to a trust whose secretary was Mr Narayanan Nair.

Kerala Law Academy: Refuge of political leaders
Having said the history, let me comeback to the impact of Kerala Law Academy issue on Kerala politics.

Kerala Law Academy is the only refuge of leaders of political parties of Kerala who aspire to take a law degree (LLB).  Kerala Law Academy gives scores of admissions to those recommended by political parties through management quota annually. These leaders aim to gain some respectability through law degree. They aim a career in politics and practising in courts is not their priority unlike those who get admission through merit quota who want to rise in legal profession.

All political parties in Kerala got this benefit from Kerala Law Academy annually ever since it came into existence. It is said that Mr. Narayanan Nair has several files full of recommendation letters written by doyens of Kerala politics for students who would have never got admissions by merit in any other institutions.

Reports in media say all political parties in Kerala are the beneficiaries of the magnanimity of Kerala Law Academy director Narayanan Nair and principal Lekshmi Nair.  They include CPI, CPM and Congress. BJP might also have received some favours but definitely very less compared to others.

The family members of governing body of Kerala Law Academy are in key positions in many political parties in Kerala. While Narayanan Nair is known as very influential in CPI, his brother Koliyakkode Krishnan Nair is a former MLA and now the state committee member of CPI (M) and state president of Kerala Karshaka Sanghom (farmers organisation of CPI (M). Narayanan Nair’s wife was once state president of the women’s wing of Kerala Congress, which was a coalition partner of UDF. While a family member and trust president Ayyappan Pillai is a veteran BJP leader another member Jayakumar is the special private secretary of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. Lekshmi Nair is closely linked to CPM’s television channel Kairali TV and conducts many shows in it regularly.  

This means the family roots are spread deeply in all power centres and the family tree cannot be dismantled without causing damage to the power centres (political parties). While a CPI (M) lead government allotted land for Kerala Law Academy, Congress government lead by K.Karunakaran approved it later. There had been many accusations against the academy on many counts apart from land allotment. There had been several allegations about changing the structure of the governing body, flouting of reservation rules in admissions, making appointments against norms, conduct of examinations, torturing students, and many more. But no Government that ruled the state bothered to investigate and take appropriate action.
The reason is many Kerala politicians who speak relentlessly against discrimination, favouritism and disparities in public life have either themselves enjoyed the favours of Kerala Law Academy or had used it to promote their cronies. Judges of many courts in India including higher courts have taken degree from here. Thus Kerala Law Academy stands as the symbol of the hypocrisy and disparity of political parties in Kerala.

While there had been some protests before Kerala Law Academy earlier to show that injustice won’t be tolerated, they were all quietly withdrawn. The management had the last laugh always. In the shades of darkness, protestors and oppressors said cheers to the health and wealth of bourgeoisie, while the naive depressed and oppressed were satisfied with the bread crumbs that fell down the table. It seemed that political opportunists and hypocrites would continue to rule till deluge. But they are panicked now. why are they in a soup now?

BJP’s entry gives unexpected twist to Kerala’s political fiascos
The answer is, the unexpected entry of BJP is giving new twists to political fiascos in Kerala. Alleged violations of rules by Kerala Law Academy have been ignored till now as all political parties have got benefits. But unlike others, BJP has not received many freebies from the institution. The reason could be BJP has never been a ruling party in Kerala and lacked the clout. Anyway, fact remains fact. BJP hasn’t received many freebies compared to others with heavy baggage, BJP with a light baggage can move against the management with sincerity to find a solution if it has a will.

There had been only two power groups in Kerala politics, Congress lead UDF and CPM lead LDF. They solved many contradictions to save their skin. Now that is not happening as there is a third group. Though BJP is an untouchable to all mainstream political parties in Kerala, in the Kerala Law Academy strike they are not. CPI leaders are found exchanging greetings with striking BJP leaders. Some Congress leaders have also done that. ABVP is in the joint students’ front. Suddenly, the battle ground in Kerala has enough space for them. If BJP has a long term plan, the Kerala Law Academy strike would continue and the party will reap benefit, if it lacks a plan and will, Kerala Law Academy strike would end.

The strike has exposed the hypocrisy and double standards of Kerala politics. Is it the beginning of a new political culture of sincere politics. Only time will tell.

Let me also add. the culprits in Kerala Law Academy issue are not just Narayanan Nair, Lekshmi Nair and their relatives. Those respected top politicians of Kerala who facilitated the violations of law over the years for their self interest are equally responsible. Those who shared the booty should share the punishment. That is natural justice.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Unrealistic ideals and outlook of the Left stifle Kerala

Kerala, perhaps, has the unique distinction of being the only place in the world where burning issues of the state rarely make headlines. The Government, media, intellectuals and even the general public are oblivious of crucial issues around them which have a direct impact on their life, and focus their attention on what is happening in Utopia.
Public discourse in Kerala is always on certain pre-determined topics like ‘dangers posed by the rise of BJP, Donald Trump’s rise in the US, importance of eating beef, etc. The background could be any place on earth except Kerala.
This is no exaggeration. Those who have listened to the speeches of present chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan will agree. Comrade starts his speech thundering against the dictatorial traits of US president-elect Donald Trump and the sufferings of North African migrants in Europe. (It doesn’t matter for comrade Vijayan that his words do not have any significance for Trump, Americans or migrants to Europe) Then, he lashes out at the “ pro-capitalist moorings of Narendra Modi and the danger posed by BJP to the secular structure of India.” To wind up, he will murmur a few words on developments in Kerala. By the time, majority of audience would have dispersed. Afterwards, at the tea shops and barber shops in Kannur and Kollam loyal comrades will discuss about the need to make Kerala society aware of the ill effects of  the rise of right wing in the US.
However, they are blissfully ignorant about the health hazards posed by the piling up garbage in front of their homes or shops. The common response will be who cares!
Prime time discussions in news channels focus on what is happening in Washington and Gujarat. Kasaragod and Neyyattinkara (small towns in Kerala) are Neptune and Pluto to them. While Rohit Vemoola’s fate was discussed by channels for months, they took up the issue of unnatural death of Jishnu Pranoy an engineering student at Nehru College at Pampady in Kerala, allegedly after torture by college authorities, was taken up after social media forced them.
The pseudo-left hold the sway over the public intellect and has brainwashed the public to think that it is important to ignore local issues and focus on what is happening elsewhere. Here is an example.
Once, I met a Keralite chef at a coffe shop in one of the cities in Gulf. He had completed more than 20 years in the same shop. He started as a cleaning boy and became a shawarma maker in course. As I became a regular customer, he began to talk to me and I found that he believed in a peculiar mix of ideology based on CPM brand Communism and aggressive Islamism preached by extremist groups in Kerala. He was living in very poor conditions and was paid a meagre salary. But he seemed never bothered about his own conditions. He always talked about the need to defeat BJP and Narendra Modi and the dangers posed by them and wanted his customers also to follow his line.
One day, I found him very disturbed and asked him about it. He said his mother had become very ill and had been hosptialized. He wanted to visit her but the shop owner who was also a comrade from his own village was denying him leave. The shop owner comrade had taken possession of his passport and had not allowed him to go home for the last five years. Moreover, he was never paid the salary promised in his contract. I helped him to file a complaint with the labour department and embassy and later his problem was solved partly. They allowed him to go home but he lost his job and major part of money due to him. Before leaving he thankfully told me, that the incident had opened his eyes.  “I cannot understand why I obeyed the commands of those who never allowed me to think about my plight. They misguided me and forced me to focus on issues that don’t affect me while exploiting me,” he said.
Every Kerala migrant in Gulf will have similar stories to tell. Even in the Gulf they live thinking and reading about issues that matter little to them and opposing imaginary exploitations that are taking place in some remote African land. They never think about exploitations by their own Malayali business owner and Arab sheikh. Every year politicians from Kerala, especially Left politicians, come to Gulf and snatch away part of their hard earned money as donations to party fund. They never ask any questions to those who made them exile to hot Arabian deserts and spend their whole lives there separated from their families at home.
Unemployment doesn’t lead to social unrest
The same applies to migrants from Kerala to other countries like Australia, US and Europe. The lesser fortunate migrants rush to Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and other Indian cities. The high rate of unemployment resulting from total destruction of agricultural sector ( food grain and coconut) and lack of industries would have resulted in social unrest in any other part of the world and would have turned the youth against ruling class (Communists in Kerala context). But that didn’t happen in Kerala. The propaganda machinery of the left has been very successful in Kerala to divert the ire of unemployed against imaginary enemies who are often imperialists, capitalists and communalists operating in unknown territories or BJP.
The left creates the impression that Kerala is the most developed land in India and it is the left rule that brought about this. Even non resident Keralities in GCC, who sweat it out in the sweltering Arabian deserts to feed their dear and near in Kerala nod in agreement. Pseudo-Left economists like Amartya Sen write thesis on Kerala Model Development and proclaim that Left rule has made Kerala God’s own Country when the truth is migrants from Kerala who shed their blood and sweat  in unknown deserts of Gulf and sacrifice their lives in the icy cold lands of Europe should be given the credit for the development of Kerala.
It might be true that communists have drafted land reforms in kerala and Congress had implemented it. It might have helped the society at a certain stage. But those political parties were unable to take it forward. They opposed mechanised farming which ended agriculture sector, especially cultivation of food grains and coconut.  They opposed computerisation. The result was while Bangalore progressed to become the silicon valley of India, Though Thiruvananthapuram Technopark was one of the first major IT initiatives in India, Kerala is lagging way behind Bangalore. While Chennai rose to become the Detroit of Asia, Kerala has nothing to boast. Even the less developed north Indian states have made giant leaps in development in the last decade. But Kerala is relying more and more on NRK deposits. Once, roads in Kerala were models to other states. Now even Lucknow’s roads will make Kerala envious.
But Kerala’s outdated left political leadership will dismiss all these realities and will cite Kerala’s Human Development to point out that the state has invested in human development which is the real development. But this is actually belittling the hard working Malayali who works outside the state and invests in developing his children so that they will also get a job outside. It is the NRK who invests in human development not the state. Left politicians deny him even the credit of developing his children.
The peculiar propaganda unleashed by the left has actually widened the divisions in the society. Keralities don’t have a feeling of oneness. MPs from the state never stand united above politics to fight for the rights of the state.
In the light of above facts Keralites need to do a reality check. Rather than thinking and fighting for things that don’t affect them, Keralities need to think about their own needs and fight for a solution. Otherwise they will lose many things in the coming days.