Sunday, May 18, 2008

Small things do add up

Recently, I was quite fascinated with Barack Obama's campaign. He is almost sure to clinch the nomination. In 2007, he was the underdog, looking at a long shot candidacy . How he became the front runner is not the crux of a fairy tale but a story of hardwork, meticulous planning and sheer determination. While the other candidates were concentrating their energies on bigger states ( those with the maximum number of delegates), Obama was spending his efforts also on a number of small states. At the end of the day, this was the main factor in his candidacy. This article is not about the Democratic Presidential race but about the state of affairs in Kerala...

Recently, we all have been swamped with the news that the foodgrain and other grocery prices are on the rise in Kerala. The inflation has been felt not only in Kerala but also in the rest of India and across the globe. There has been reports of civilian unrest in Bangaldesh and Haiti due to the shortage. But what sets Kerala apart from the rest is that this effect is felt significantly in the beautiful and fertile state. Why is this? We all know the answer to this. Kerala is the No. 1 consumer state in India with very few exports and importing even its principle staple food - Rice.We are heavily dependent on Andhra and Tamil Nadu on all our needs. The extent of dependence on our neighboring states is such that we should pray that there are no bandhs/hartals in these states- lest we will starve. The only crops that we produce are cash crops like cashew and rubber which do not require continuos monitoring.

Do you think that Kerala is a very rich state that we can enjoy the luxury of a consumer state? The answer is a simple "NO". Barring some investment from the expatriate population, the economy is in shambles. We are running a deficit budget for a very long period of time. Sometimes the Treasury barely has the funds to even give salary to the state employees.

Keralaites should change their attitude towards life to get out of this mess. We should not think of agriculture as a lowly profession. Many people in Kerala own land . Why can't they start cultivating some vegetables that could feed atleast one family. Lady's finger ( okra), spinach, tapioca are some of them that can cultivated in any house hold. Rather than idling time in "junctions" commenting on girls , the youth should do these simple things. Otherwise, a time will come when the vegetables become so costly that an average Keralaite can consume only fish.

Even educated people can do this. Agriculture is not a blue- collared job. Earning a degree doesn't mean that you should be allergic to taking a shovel. Being a doctor /engineer or a senior officer wouldn't make someone great. Every profession has its dignity.We should give due respect to farmers. The government should invest heavily in agriculture. IT is not the panacea for hunger. No economy can focus entirely on IT .Recently, I saw a news item about a man ( who after completing his engineering) employed his skills to cultivate high yield crops. He was making a profit of Rs. 30000 p.m. Not everybody can be a farmer like him..But, atleast we can contribute our bit. As I said earlier, small things do add up. Kerala really has to come out of this mess.

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