Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kerala: It’s different

About five million trucks are off the roads in India. The indefinite strike is in response to a call by the All India Motor Transport Congress to protest the rise in diesel cost, prices, taxes and what not. In a country where 70% of goods traffic is by road, its impact on the economy is enormous.

But truckers of one state are not taking part in this agitation. Can you guess which that state is?

Well it is Kerala, God’s own country. The reason? The obvious answer would be that the Keralites have high literacy rate, are intelligent, and therefore are quick to understand the adverse effects of such a strike. May be.

Then again maybe people require an occasional holiday from even hartals. In the month of June, Kerala had 25 hartals (bandhs, shut downs) either across the state or in some localities. Or so says the media. In addition, the month had five Sundays.

In a way, hartals have some plus points. Which country gives its people so many paid holidays? And, in Kerala, it is a tourist attraction as well. The hartals and the allied activities like slogan shouting processions, stone throwing and grappling with the police do carry some amount of interest to foreigners in spite of the inconvenience.

That reminds me of a story that goes around in the hospitality trade. A few years back an enterprising tour operator organized a Moscow group’s visit to Kerala to see public display of pictures of Stalin. Icons sometimes migrate to safer locations.

But, as far as tourists are concerned, the Keralite does not forget his civic sense even during traffic-stopping hartals. If there is a white skin in a vehicle on the road, all that the driver has to say is ‘Tourist’ and the car would be waved on.

The month of July is not likely to be different. This morning when I called Cochin, my grandson had not gone to school because of hartal. Credit for it goes to the BJP. At issue is a controversial land allocation in Kashmir. Perhaps that will induce the students to learn more about Kashmir. Nothing is as bad as it appears to be initially.

Keralites who read this, don’t be worried. The state, in its own way, will carry on despite all these thamashas.

Ends.

Also see:

Kerala: Of monkeys and nuts

Caste System: Is Kerala still a madhouse?

16 comments:

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Sir
I got so angry in the morning when I heard Hartal is poornam in Kerala and posted this
http://blog.nikhil.co.in/2008/07/hartal-nationkerala.html

Seriously, why don't these people act sensibly, mature!

Sunita said...

Hmmm.... if Kerala is God's Own Country, do you think they have strikes in Heaven? Or, a round of stone-pelting by disgruntled souls?

homesick said...

there's a new saying kerala is "God's own country given to the devil's children"

Kariyachan said...

Perhaps 'harthals' could be viewed in a different angle.
It is the ultimate manifestation of The freedom of Expression, which is hailed by Indian Constitution.

If Someone or some parties need to express their views or protest about something..Harthal is the best way to get the message accross.

Sometimes it represents Unity in opinion, as the nation or region as a whole is showing their togetherness, solidarity and unity in opinion in certain matters?

Not like it's being misused by ay and every political/religious outfits?

Nebu said...

Harthals in Kerala are huge success because the average Keralite is affluent enough to take frequent holidays. Government servants get their pay packet even if they don't work. The traders are assured of their sale the next day, the kin of the expatriates receive their remittances from places where there are no harthals, the planters harvest their crop on subsequent days and the head load workers, painters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, masons, factory workers, agricultural labours et al are paid high wages compared to any other state in the country. Keralites need to work only occasionally to maintain their present standard of living. In short there is no abject poverty in Kerala and hence hartals succeed.

Sunita said...

When I was in college there was this verse we used to chant to the tune of "Oh, you cant go to heaven... ". It went :
"Oh you cant go to heaven if you're a malayali,
'Coz the Lord He wants no 'vazhakkalis'..."
Enough said!
(Needless to say this was really popular among the non-mallus in the college hostel!)

Swarna said...

Kerala's harthals are notorious. Imagine the plight of a friend, wishing to apply for a PG course, found that a instananeous Net-enabled remittance on Tuesday to his bank account was no use - the bank opened only today after two 'rest' days...

Abraham Tharakan said...

Nikhil narayanan, thatnk you for the comment. I plan to visit your Blog.

Abraham Tharakan said...

sunita, if sufficient number of Malayalees get to heaven, the possibility cannot be ruled out.

Abraham Tharakan said...

homesick, that's a good one.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Kariyachan, thanks for presenting the other side of the spectrum. Here, the principle that would be applicable is what an American judge once said, "Your freedom to swing your arms ends where my nose begins."

Abraham Tharakan said...

Nebu, that is a good point of view well presented.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Sunita, that's an amusing one.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Swarna, there are so many sad stories like this. Imagine this situation - the relatives somehow manage to reach a critical patient to the hospital on a hartal day. What if the specialist who is to attend to the patient is held up in road blocks?

Kariyachan said...

"Your freedom to swing your arms ends where my nose begins."

AT sir, I totally agree with it.

"Sometimes on really important issues, One need to swing the arm, no matter what obstacle lies in the path."

But the distinction is the "relevance of the issue".

Quote opposite of what the current political parties are practising.

If Party Head's Mother in Law gets a fever on her knee, there is a harthal- such situations are to be criticized.

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