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Monday, October 18, 2021

E. Sreedharan warns of ‘doom awaiting Kerala’

This week Mr. E Sreedharan, who is fondly called the ‘Metro Man’ wrote a letter to Dhanam Magazine (the only business news magazine based out of Kerala) extending support to an article written by former Trivandrum Technopark CEO & Kerala Planning Board Member Mr. G Vijayaraghavan. Vijayaraghavan in a scathing article titled “Should Kerala be allowed to be destroyed in this fashion” mentioned why Kerala is still a backward state in terms of business investment.

He cites a few examples of why BMW officials who reached Kerala on a hartal (strike) day left, never to come back. Another corporate hard disk manufacturer left because the leader of the opposition opposed their move to start an assembly plant here. Numerous BPOs left Kerala after actually having started operations here. They found they could not work 24/7 in this state. Vijayaraghavan lamented the fact that not only did the state exchequer lose potential revenue but also young workers, especially women, lost out on a chance to work for corporate companies and earn a decent living. 

He also mentions a few incidences that happened more recently, in January of 2020. Muthoot Finance MD was attacked with stones while travelling in his car to his office in Kochi by supporters of his own striking union workers and had to be hospitalised with head injuries. On January 8th, Michael Levitt, a Nobel Prize winner who was invited by the Kerala Government as a VIP guest was stopped by union workers in the houseboat that he and his wife were travelling. They were held for three long hours and this incident happened at Alappuzha. Multiple unions had called for a hartal on that day and had insisted that the tourism industry was exempted from the same. All this happened in the backdrop of the Kerala Government organising a global investor meet on 9th and 10th January.

Under the guise of corporate laws and taxes, investors are being cheated and Police raj is being implemented in Kerala. This has been going on since the past many decades. These illogical systems have to go. By allowing those who don’t pay taxes to escape and by using legal loopholes to squeeze the honest taxpayers, the Government is not doing itself any favours, especially in the long run. The sole favourable factor amongst all this chaos is the fact that Keralites are investing in their home state.

Let us take a look at what E. Sreedharan had to say in this context. He says that in the past 20 years, not even one major industry has come to Kerala. Existing industrialists have left for more labour and cost friendly states. He blames labour militancy for the sorry state of the much touted Cochin Port. Kerala is blessed with abundant monsoons and there are 44 rivers in the state. Mismanagement of the rivers, its reservoirs and waste dumping forces these rivers to dry up each year.

Agricultural production in Kerala was self sufficient but has come down to levels where Keralites are forced to buy vegetables, pulses and meat from other neighbouring states. He also goes on to say that even College and University campuses are not safe for our students due to political intervention. Proof is the sheer number of strikes, violence and murders that are haunting our colleges (Abhimanyu murder is a recent case in point). In December last year, Foundation For Restoration Of National Values, an NGO headed by E Sreedharan had served a legal notice to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan over his government’s decision to bring a legislation allowing politics in colleges.

“From burning effigies of principles to stabbing of students to murders, colleges across Kerala have been witnessing such instances. That each young person must have access to education is their fundamental right, but playing politics in campuses is not a fundamental right. And not just students, politicians from outside college campuses also promote such activities with their support,” Mr Sreedharan had said.

Vijayaraghavan asks whether we should allow Kerala to be destroyed in this manner, while Sreedharan wants the public to stand up and shout. Are the Kerala Government, opposition and national media listening? Hopefully, yes. 

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