Saturday, April 22, 2006

Development vs welfare in Kerala ..

Kerala elections .. the tug-of-war between development and welfare.

Kerala is known for it's bipolar political landscape. Over many years it has been oscillating returning UDF and LDF after each assembly election. Come what may, and how well and how worse each group performs and delivers, invariably assembly elections return the "opposite" group.

Some sociologists call it the seesaw effect. This year too the incumbent government headed by the Indian National Congress and like minded allies like the Muslim League, Kerala Congress etc. are wary. The reason, they can foresee the seesaw effect. They are now trying to challenge this theory proposing that the seesaw effect need not happen always and this time, the UDF will be "returned" to power.

The main plank on which the UDF led by Oommen Chandy is banking on is the development agenda which has been pursued quite vigorously by UDF the last two years. Without development all of us know that the state cannot progress and catch up with the rest of the country. In the field of IT and IT related services, Kerala has got very good talent and if related industries are started, the state can develop to a great extent.

The marxists on the other hand are insisting on the question of social welfare and environmental protection. Unmindful of the fact that welfare and development of the society and it's members can only go hand in hand and not at variance with each other, they are fighting against each other, even though they are the two sides of the same coin, but do not want to accept that the opposite group is also alongside it in the march to development and welfare of the society.

While Vikasana Shathru ( as VS Achuthanandan is endearingly called by Malayalees all over) insists on opposing "all" the policies of the UDF, be they for development of the state or welfare of the people, Oommen Chandy heading the UDF, loses no time in accusing the LDF of being against development of the state and accuses it of nstead being interested in taking the state backward.

The irony observed was that even though within the state, Congress and Marxists are at each other's throat, the Central Congress leaders who came for electioneering work, never raised a point against the Marxists. Fully mindful of the fact that it is the Marxists that are propping them at the Centre, Congress leadership dare not point accusing fingers at them. The Marxists on the other hand, measuring the smooth sailing they can expect this time both in West Bengal and Kerala are getting a bit complacent, which finally could be only to their detriment.

Can Welfare happen without development or can development happen without welfare ? They are complementing each other. Each needs the other. So far Kerala has been concentrating on welfare of it's people. This has resulted in we getting to the top in the country regarding social security indicators and educational standards,comparable even to the state of New York in USA. But this overt attention on welfare and citizen's rights has resulted in lopsided development, with Industries and other mass employment generation potential opportunities getting sidelined and starting elsewhere. Trading and expatriate payments from the Gulf and Europe are presently responsible for maintaining the economy and the people.

While Oommen Chandy claims it is this scenario which he would like to address and get changed for the better, VS counters it by saying that all such development is only with a dangerous mindset and desire to see that the people finally suffer the illeffects while Kerala is sold to multinationals and rich companies.

Let the people decide who is right and who is wrong ( or just the 2 % of the electorate whose swing decides the final verdict). One thing is for sure, even this election cannot bring stability with development and welfare to the state. The churning process will continue for many years before Kerala can firmly get itself firmly girded on the road to development.

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