Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Kerala @ 60:A Retrospection

On 1st November2016, Kerala has finally joined the league of senior citizens among the Indian states. A land of paradoxes , there are several unique features one can notice in Kerala. Kerala government was the first democratically elected communist government in the world. Kerala is always ranked top among most of the parameters to identify a welfare state- Highest HDI Index, Highest literacy rate, Health etc. to one of the early birds in India to achieve the status of open defecation free state. It is also to be noticed that Kerala is always one of the leading states in implementing central government schemes, be it MGNREGS by UPA or Swachh Bharat by NDA. Government of Kerala (irrespective of left or right) has always played a crucial role as an implementing agency. But it is to be noted that Kerala has the higher percentage of emigrant population. The time has come to think why the people are migrating from such a beautiful state, which has all the basic requirements, to settle in other cities of India and abroad? 

One of the most important factors for the relative development of the state was the higher literacy rate compared to rest of India. While the average literacy rate of India was 16% at the time of Independence, it was 46% in Kerala. This higher literacy rate had always helped Kerala to work more efficiently as an implementing agency for most of the government schemes. Kerala government had also given focus on investments in education and health sector during 1960s and 70s which had also helped in making Kerala a relatively better off state. But one of the most important flaws of the model was that the investment was heavily on non-income generating activities without much focus on revenue generation/job creation. A model can be considered sustainable only when it is able to survive without the support of an external agency. Otherwise it will fail with the closure of external funding source. In other words, most of the schemes in Kerala were implemented with the aid from central government or some international funding agencies with a target driven approach, without giving focus on employment generation (which would have helped in generating more revenue for the state government). This has resulted in creating a generation of educated people who could become an efficient work force but didn’t get a chance to prove their talent in their home state due to lack of opportunities. 

We can also say that most of these investments were with a short term view, more in line with the national trends. But it should be noted that the demands of each state were different. For example, if we look at the investments in health sector most of the investments were designed to handle infectious diseases which spread through various sources like air, water etc. But currently non infectious diseases like Cancer, Heart diseases, Diabetes, Blood pressure etc. are becoming a threat mostly because of food habits and our current hospitals are not equipped to handle those diseases. Similarly if we look at education sector, we can see that engineering had more importance in Kerala where most of the revenue generation sources are from service sector like Banking, Tourism etc. This has resulted in building up a generation of engineers who work in different sectors which has no relation with what they had studied in colleges. Remaining engineers had migrated to rest of the world where engineering still has some importance. In both cases (health and education), Kerala has done statistically well because the parameters for measuring performance was primarily set based on national parameters.

As the literacy rate in Kerala started to increase, people started to look for jobs which give better salary. As a result they started to lose interest in traditional jobs like agriculture, daily labour, construction work etc. which were occupied by migrant workers from other states; earlier by people from Tamil Nadu and currently from East and North East India. On the other side, neither government nor private sector investments had occurred in Kerala which would have given better job opportunities. This resulted in massive migration to gulf, Mumbai (now to Banglore) and other Western countries which today we proudly say as our NRI strength.  Initial migration was to Gulf countries getting citizenship is not very easy. This had helped Kerala to get lot of cash inflow from the gulf countries. However, similar to government, most of the funds were invested for consumption purposes like home, gold etc. and only very few portion was invested for any income generation or job creation purposes. And currently, as migration trend has shifted US and Europe, where tax rate is higher and receiving citizenship is easier, people who migrate tend to invest the money there itself. In fact people who sell all their assets in Kerala and become permanent residents in US and Europe are increasing and after one or two generations they may not have any relation with Kerala. This will further reduce the money available for development of Kerala.

Currently when we look at Kerala’s economic situation, Kerala is struggling to maintain the schools and hospitals set up by the government because of the huge maintenance expenses. However revenue for the government through taxes not grown sufficiently during the same period to match with those expenses and for new development projects.  As a result, fiscal deficit has increased and borrowings have gone up sharply in last two decades. Fiscal liabilities have increased from Rs.33,777 crore in 2002-03 to Rs. 1,41,947 crore in 2014-15. It is also to be noted that the migration from Kerala to West has increased during the same period and one of the districts – Pathanamthitta has shown a negative population growth for the first time in history mainly due to the shifting of people to the western world. 

In other words, while Kerala is becoming a senior citizen, she is also becoming economically weaker and weaker and both politicians and local population is not worried about the same, believing we can always find a heaven in the west. The time has come for government to rethink its strategy and take a new path so that Kerala will have a local population who can survive in the state with a decent income, not like the current old age home where the parents are living in Kerala and their children working outside.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Communism and Pseudos

Election of 2016 was very different in many ways especially with the active participation of the political leaders in social media. Even though BJP had effectively used the social media during 2014 elections, its influence in Kerala had peaked only in current elections with the entry of communist party and party workers into the social media. At first it may not sound wrong as any person and any party have the right to market their ideology. But the most important factor which is being neglected is the influence / penetration of capitalism and its ideologies into Communism. 

There was a time that communist party was working among the poor, mobilizing them against the feudal lords. It had helped the party to make its presence in many parts of the country and to become the main opposition in the first government of Independent India. However, they had failed to keep the momentum for one simple reason that communism is getting diluted day by day. Today communism had become a fantastic ideology that may never be able to make a comeback. This is mainly because of the fact that the people who are propagating the ideas themselves are being influenced by capitalism and their propagators. 

For example, we have seen lot of ideological fights happening across social media, say facebook. Facebook, a company opened by a capitalist in United States of America had earned millions in the name of communism and advertisements and discussions related to Communist party and ideologies. The Communists use the same social media to protest against the capitalists for one simple reason that majority of the population are under the influence of the media which is owned by capitalists. So, how can we expect Communism which diluted itself for promoting their ideologies, to escape the people from exploitation from capitalists? But people use the same social media and proudly say that they are the comrades who want to bring the change in the society. 

Another biggest threat to Communist ideologies is the influence of Pseudo Communists who are always under the influence of capitalism and its tempting yet deadly beauty. Middle class of Kerala is the biggest example. Most of them are currently working under the private companies which are owned by capitalists bourgeois who are settled in India or abroad. They are aware of the fact that they are being exploited, but they love being exploited just because of the materialistic pleasures that capitalism is offering. Today we can see communists who are working for capitalists, wearing the formals designed by capitalists, eating from Dominos/McDonalds/ any other hotel chain owned by capitalists using a mobile phone which is again designed and manufactured by the capitalists with a capitalist sim which was being purchased after falling in love with the advertisement of those companies. They are be using a vehicle which is manufactured by a firm owned by capitalists or even public transport of which most of the vehicles are still made by the same capitalist firms even though owned by government (which is again influenced by right wing ideologies). In simple words we can see that the people are under the influence of market right from dawn (brushing with colgate/close up) to desk (sleeping on a mattress) and still they talk about communism. Most of the products that we consume today are the output of systematic exploitation by the capitalists. Knowingly or unknowingly every human being is being exploited by capitalism and they will continue to do the same for the simple reason there is always a demand for the same. But still the so called pseudo intellectuals never accept about the influence and they continue discussing about a world which is not under the influence of bourgeois. 

Communism, at times, failed to identify the real enemies who are causing the real threat to the poor. Capitalism and its exploitation can exist in different sizes and forms at different levels within a society. It exists in all the areas where there is a probability of concentration of resources; be it wealth or power or anything else. Even democracy is becoming oligarchy in this modern world. Communist party which should have been acting vigilantly against these forces fails to redesign itself to become any of those as ‘participative democracy’, explained by Marx is something which is still unknown to the party. ‘Opium of Masses’ is gaining strength in the world with the rise of terrorism across the globe. Thus the fundamentals of communism are facing many challenges than never before and the propagators of the socialist ideologists are being corrupted by the influence of the capitalist class.

Even in the middle of challenges it is really surprising that the party is able to still hold their strength in a few pockets across the globe. But the political activities and governance under the communist party never justifies their thoughts and action. A party which claims to bring development in Kerala fails to create job within Kerala. People have to migrate to other metro cities and to Middle East to get a decent job which is mostly offered by private companies whose aim is profit maximization. Revenue generation activities by government organizations are reducing day by day with more than half of the government companies are in huge losses. Government has to depend on World Bank and other Financial Institutions promoted by First World Nations to meet their daily needs and it is quite sure that these institutions will only protect the interest of those capitalist countries. Slowly and steadily party ideologies are losing grounds against the market forces and are facing a premature death. Communist party may be able to survive, but the ideologies will never survive if a strong corrective action is not taken by them and the party will fall into the hands of capitalism. Communist Party has won the election, but did the Communist ideology win?  Remember, we had French Revolution and Napoleon Boneparte was the end result; power and resources never reached to the arms of poor.