Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MM Mani’s Confession- Political Conspiracy at its Worst?

On a moral and ethical level, it is not at all good to seek any benefit from a tragic incident, as gruesome as the murder of TP Chandrasekharan.   But on a practical and philosophical level it is imperative that we seek positive outcomes from any adversity and TP murder should be no exception.

The investigation so far is reiterating the popular belief that this murder was political and carried out at the behest of Communist Party of India -Marxist (CPM).  Such political murders are anything but new in those parts of Kerala.  However, the manner in which this murder of an upcoming popular leader was conducted, wherein there were as many as 51 cuts on his face and head alone,  left a very bad taste in the psyche of common people.  The arrogant and distasteful reactions from the official leadership of CPM only exacerbated those feelings.

Barring the eternal rebel VS Achudanathan, the entire official leadership of CPM challenged the popular belief that TP was murdered by his erstwhile colleagues in CPM.  CPM leaders, especially those belonging to the infamous Kannur Lobby were quick to explain that the murder had nothing to do with CPM or its cadres and in fact the Secretary of Kannur District Committee even named Mr PC George, the Chief Whip of Kerala assembly, as the brain behind the conspiracy and murder!  Later the accusations kept changing from religious fanatics to mysterious businessmen to Congress scripts etc.  However, the media attention and the public perception refused to die down in this case, unlike in the precious instances of similar murder.  The pressure on Party was only increased by VS’s occasional verbal firings aimed at Kannur Lobby.

Usually when a political murder takes place in Malabar, the leadership of accused Party gives a list of its workers whom Police charge with the offence of murder. They either get absolved of the charges for want of evidence or get protected inside the jail by party machinery.  Their families are looked after by the Party outside the jail.  The real killers, who are the prized assets of the parties, are not exposed to any investigation.  Also at no time, the inquiry or public opinion leads to the leaders of the respective parties.  TP murder was an exception.  The inquiry soon pointed to involvement of important leaders of CPM and some of them were even arrested and remanded.

Day by day, it was becoming difficult for the leadership of CPM to hold on to their theory of innocence.   Impending Neyyattinkara By-election only contributed to their discomfort.  VS was tightening the screws on the leadership.  In the typical VS style, he managed to put entire blame on the Kannur Lobby and was getting ready to once again become a hero for the gullible public of Kerala.

People like me who are very concerned and disturbed about the frequent political murders taking place in the Malabar area in particular were hopeful that the unprecedented public opinion and media attention on the TP murder might lead to a very positive outcome- the unearthing of conspiracy and party leaders’ role in a murder.  Most people believe that only when the powerful leaders behind conspiracy are brought to book these murders will end in Malabar (For more on the TP murder please read my post “Yet Another Political Murder and Some 'Reactionary' Thoughts”).

Mani Enters the Scene

That was when the powerful Secretary of Idukki district committee of CPM, Mr MM Mani, blasted an atom bomb. In a public meeting, while explaining to the workers that CPM was not involved in TP murder, he claimed that murdering political opponents was nothing new for CPM and they have no problem in owning it up whenever they do it.  As an example of this ‘transparency’ of CPM, he mentioned three killings of Congress workers in early 1980s, wherein he claimed that these were the first 3 people from a list of 13 Congress workers who tried to create an INTUC  trade union and were marked by CPM for elimination. He went on to describe graphically how each of these was killed. “First was shot dead, second was beaten to death and third was stabbed to death” thundered Mr Mani.

The speech, which was recorded on camera by a local Cable TV channel, came to light by next day and it was all over the news media of Kerala.  Since the recordings of the speech were being aired there was no way to deny the speech.  Mani was interviewed by journalists and he told them that he stood by his speech.  However, admittedly there was pressure from party leadership and he was forced to issue a press note, expressing regret for his speech.  Please note that he did not correct or deny any facts but only regretted having spoken in a manner that led to ‘misunderstandings’ about the Party!

Why this Kolaveri, Mani?

Mani is no minion in CPM or Kerala politics.  He started out as VS’s favourite in the faction wars of CPM. However, as Pinarayi Vijayan (PV) got control over the party apparatus Mani changed his loyalties and became a prominent member of PV camp.  He successfully took on VS, when the latter tried to evict the land grabbers of Munnar, a prominent tourist destination of kerala and Mani’s area of action.

While he is known for his irreverent style of speaking, no one expected him to be foolish enough to admit to murders in public, that too when his party was on the defensive on this very issue.  Even PV, the State Secretary did not deny what Mani said.  He only censured Mani for deviating from the Party line in speaking about these murders!   Pinarayi chose not to deny categorically any role of the Party in those murders.

Was it an innocent slip of tongue by an old man? I do not think so.  I strongly believe that Mani was out on a mission to save his beleaguered leader and the Kannur lobby.   Mani knows if they could get away in the initial murder probe, it is very difficult at this later stage to collect enough evidence to punish him or anyone else for those murders. He may undergo some difficulty in the short run.  But eventually he will escape from any serious consequences.

Then what is the aim of this outburst?  Well, I believe that it was consciously done with two clear objectives in mind.   

Checkmate VS

Firstly, it checkmates VS Achudanathan, who was the State Secretary at the time of those murders.  VS cannot absolve himself from the liability for Party preparing a list of people to be killed and then executing it, while he was in charge.  In other words, if Pinarayi is responsible for TP’s murder (as accused by VS) then VS is responsible for many more murders committed during his watch!  If the re-investigation into these murders proceeds further, VS may even have to be questioned by the Police.

It may be pertinent to note that, in the very same speech Mani had blamed VS in such stringent language that is unusual for a CPM leader while he is talking about a senior leader from the Party.

Divert attention

Second objective is to divert attention from TP murder case.  If you look at the Malayalam News Papers, you can see that diversion of focus from TP murder has already happened.  Everyone is talking about Mani and his speech. As we already noted, that damages VS more than PV.   When the attention is shifted, the heat is likely to be off the leaders who were directly involved in TP murder and hopefully police will go slow and let them off the hook!  There are enough friends of PV in the UDF government and Kerala Police who will be more than willing to oblige him in such a tight situation.


CPM has never been in such a bad light in Kerala.  The challenge this time is not limited from public opinion alone.  Cadres are seen openly challenging the party by participating in public functions organised to commemorate TP.  VS will have to be tackled as soon as the by-election is over.  Political pundits are even predicting a split in the Party. 

Under these circumstances, the two objectives above are critical for the very survival of CPM in Kerala.  Mani seems to have, like a true loyal cadre, sacrificed himself to save his Party.  Mark my words; he will come back a winner in this whole episode. 

The losers will be people of Kerala, and particularly of Malabar, if the conspirators of TP murder manages to get off the hook!  We should not let the possible positive outcomes of the TP's murder be lost to a political gimmickry from a shrewd politician like Mani. Therefore, it is imperative for the media and public to understand these political games and keep the pressure on for a free, fair and efficient investigation in the TP murder case.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Parenting: Preparing the children to be accountable!

One thing common in all our recent agitations and public debates was that their proponents were always blaming someone else for the problems.  

Just listen to any press conference of our latest crusaders and you will start wondering how easy it is to solve all the ills that our nation is facing.  The favourite target is of course the politicians and members of Parliament (not that they themselves are acting in a manner that absolves them)! 

If that was to be so, then we just have to remove these politicians from power and elect a new lot who are blameless.   When you suggest that as a solution you get the reply, “No, that can’t be as the voters vote for money and liquor in elections and therefore the same set of corrupt politicians will come back to power”.  Now voters in a democracy have the choice to get what they want.  If they want money and liquor and not good governance how can we blame those politicians who provide them and get elected?   After all we get what we deserve, right?

What is interesting is that the one who is speaking/ preaching is never part of the group that is being blamed for something.   Be it electing corrupt politicians, paying dowry, practising untouchability and caste discrimination, religious intolerance, physical violence , female foeticide, paying bribes, or any other bad practice- the speaker is never a part of it.  If a bribe is paid, it is the problem of the system and not the greed of the one who is paying.  If the road is dirty it is others who make it so.  It is always the ‘others’ who cause all the bad things!

A corollary of the above mentality is that the group to which the speaker belongs is never at fault.  If the speaker is a Congress man, all that UPA Government is doing or all that the members of dynasty are doing are beyond questioning. If it is a Trinamool Congress supporter, then Mamata is the perfect Chief Minister.  If he is from BJP, Narendra Modi can do no wrong and even a legitimate legal fight against him by supposed victims is an act against national interests!  If you are a CPM member, all the political murders and violence that are attributed to them, are handiworks of some conspirators out to malign their innocent party.

Same is the case with religions.  For a Hindu, nothing can be wrong in their religion. If you point out anything that requires change, you are being an agent of some other religion, out to malign the fair name of Hindus.  Same is the case with other religions too.  Unlike in the past, no one is willing to even discuss the need for reforms in religions!  Any attempt at even academic debates is discouraged as an affront to religions.

We are very good at assuming credits for ourselves for anything good that takes place around us.  If Indian cricket team wins their match against Bangladesh we will celebrate as if it was OUR world war victory but if the same Team loses a match to Australia, we will soon start abusing THEM!

Why does this happen? Why has it become a habit for us to externalise the guilt for all that is wrong? Why are we so bad in even considering our own contribution to a problem while we are so good at appropriating all the credit for something to which we have not contributed at all?  Why is that we are unable to look within and seek solutions for problems?  The more I think of it; I am convinced that it has to do with our conditioning from childhood. 

I remember having read somewhere about a comparison between an Indian mother and an Israeli mother in a given situation.  When her child who is picking up the skills of walking falls down and cry, an Israeli mother is more likely to smile and encourage the child to get up and walk towards her, whereas the Indian mother would most likely run up to the child pick her up and then blame the floor for making the child fall down!  If the child is still crying, the Indian mother will kick the floor to punish it for the crime!   

I have not seen any Israeli mother in the said situation but I have witnessed on many occasions Indian parents and grandparents doing precisely as above.  I am sure most of the readers too must have experienced such incidences.   Extension of the same behaviour can be seen when two kids fight each other, the respective parents of each kid blaming the other for the fight and justifying their own kid, without even trying to find out as to what really happened between the two.

If this is how we teach our children, how can we expect them to ever assume any accountability for their actions?  They will always find some floor that is to be blamed for their fall; some bad stage that spoiled their dance; some jealous teacher who gave fewer marks to them.......some bureaucrat who forced them to pay bribes and some politician who looted their country!

It is time that we make a cultural shift from the blame game mentality.  We may be too old to make the shift.  But our children should not be allowed to inherit what is wrong with us.   We must teach them to analyse the situations in a dispassionate manner and find the real reasons for an occurrence or non-occurrence instead of blaming others.

Parents must encourage the children to talk and confide in them.  Without being inquisitive, parents must listen to the child sharing her anguish and happiness on the silliest of happenings around her.  They must generate enough trust so that the child will not have to hide anything from them. 

To make children accountable for their acts and deeds it is very important to stop punishing them for their mistakes.  If you start beating or shouting at a child whenever a mistake occurs, then you cannot expect the child to inform you about that mistake.  It will only be natural that the child will try to hide that fact from you!

Children must be guided towards good and acceptable behaviour; not subjected to judgement and punishment for aberrations. 

Instead of instant results through violence or bullying, parents must show patience and discuss the incident in a dispassionate manner with the child.  Make the child analyse the situation and find what factors led to an incident.  Do not let them get away by blaming others.  Ask them what the child could have done to avoid, or what he might have done to precipitate, the incident.   Explain to them through reason, why a specific behaviour is considered good or bad and how a ‘bad behaviour’ can be avoided.

Encourage the children to resolve their issues with others through reason and not violence.  Never blindly support your children in a dispute or create excuses for them.  Help the children own up their errors and that will make them develop a stronger character.

Character building of our citizens, and not enacting more statutes, is the need of the hour.  Only such better quality citizens can take our country away from all the dirty ills that it is suffering from.  Parents’ role in building a nation of people with better values and stronger character cannot be overemphasised.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Parenting- Are you up to it?

We keep hearing the complaints from elder generations that the younger generations are getting worse!  It is a fact that each generation had this observation about generation that followed, but who should take responsibility for such deterioration? In my opinion it is the preceding generations that must take responsibility for any deterioration in values of succeeding generations.

Children learn values from their surroundings- their family, school, society etc.  If a child is not picking up a right value, it is mostly because he doesn’t get to see or feel it around him.

I have always maintained that most of the current problems of our society can only be resolved through fundamental change in the value system of its members.  We have seen the limitations of laws, even when they are very stringent, in removing social evils.  Continuing prevalence of dowry, child marriage, female foeticide, caste/religious/racial discrimination etc are apt examples for this limitation. If at all, stringent laws only contribute to further the already dominant corruption levels in the society.

So, how do we make a change? Well, by changing the accepted behaviour patterns for the members in a society.  It is difficult to make such changes among the grown up people. But we can make a beginning by consciously attempting at right value formations in our next generation. 

The role of parents in formulating the character and values of their children cannot be overemphasised.  The influence of parents is undoubtedly the highest in a child’s value system. But going by the results, we have definitely failed as parents in providing the right lessons and right role models to our children.  I believe it is because we are not up to being the right kind of parents; rather we took parenting as a natural aspect of life that requires no effort and calls for no improvement at all!  In fair defence, we might have had no time to even consider these aspects while we were struggling to find enough to keep the stomachs of our children filled and school fees paid.

What is sad to notice is that even education and affluence have not made parenting a priority for our people.  If at all, the education and affluence of parents have only caused increase in the gap between children and parents in most cases.

The stakes are high.  The future of human beings depends on the adoption of right values in our new generations.  It is necessary to have wider discussions on these aspects of life so that there is increased awareness in the society.   Toward this purpose I wish to take up one important aspect of right parenting in this post. I claim no expertise in the subject – not even any in depth research.  This post is based on my observations and experiences from my own life as a child and now as a parent.  I also acknowledge the contributions of my friends on Twitter, namely, @shivanikapoor01, @AMadumoole, @aaquib_ and @Smit_Meister by way of a discussion we had recently on this subject.

Object of this post is not to preach but to induce readers to think about quality parenting and its wider implications for the society.

Parents; not Masters

First lesson that a parent must imbibe is that a parent is not a master of the child.  Parents don’t own their children. Children are the assets of society and the nation; parents being mere custodians and protectors! 

Let me quote Kahlil Gibran’s (The Prophet) famous words on parenting:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

What is the implication of these words? Well, it is simple- a parent must behave like a parent and not as an owner or master of the child. But most of us forget this basic fact of life.  We often mistake our children as mere tools that we can use, in any which way that suit us, to fulfil our own unfulfilled dreams! In other words, we make them live a life that we wanted for ourselves!  We are neither concerned nor aware of the fact that in the process we are not letting them live their own dreams and life and the vicious cycle goes on.

Consider these situations:

Have you ever selected a dress for your kid not based on the kid’s wishes and current trends but on what you missed wearing in your growing up days or even today?

Have you ever pushed your child to learn a craft or skill that you wanted to learn in your childhood? Violin, roller skating, classical music or whatever that skill may be?

Do you listen to your child when he comes up with a question and try to answer it in best possible rational manner? Or you merely shout at the kid and ask him to mind his business, because you either didn’t have the patience or you felt the question too embarrassing to discuss with a kid?

Have you as a parent felt that it is your right to decide what is good for your child and it is the duty of the child to blindly obey whatever your decisions may be? It could be about his/her hobby, courses, subjects, and friends, and later, career or even life partners!

Honestly, most parents would find themselves guilty of committing the above errors at one time or other. Most of them even guilty of using physical violence to enforce their will over the child!

In the process the child is picking up many a negative value and traits for his life.  Child is convinced about the role of power and/or violence in getting one’s viewpoint heard.  Child becomes aware that it is the positions and not reasons that dictate right and wrong.

Let me quote some examples that I came cross at different times:

I read this story in a tweet recently:

Child: “Mommy, Can I go to the bathroom?”
Mommy: "No. Say your ABCs first"
Mommy: "Where is the P?"
Child: "It's running down my leg, Mom"

Hilarious? Yes, but it should provoke our thinking!  Mommy made the decision for the child by enforcing the power of her position, even in a basic matter as going to bathroom.  Would the ABCs have ran away somewhere if the child was allowed to visit bathroom first?  What are we teaching the child here?

Let me take you to another real life example.  A boy was studying in 8th standard when he got selected to act in a drama to be played during the School youth festival.  He was also involved in three or four other individual items of competition.  He was excited about the competition as he used to be the top performer among the boys, in his school. 

All the rehearsals were over and the day came. However, when he was getting ready for the school, his dad told him not to go as he had come to know that it was the school youth festival and there would be no classes.  Of course boy had not told his parents about the day or the fact that he was participating in the competition because he knew they would not let him go to school for sure.  To his bad luck his dad still came to know about it from somewhere.

Our boy had no choice. He cried and pleaded with parents.  They refused to hear his point of view and instead dad beaten him for daring to participate in a drama without their permission. Boy dreaded the situation in school when at that last minute, if he failed to turn up for the drama. He was not worried about the individual items but drama would involve others’ efforts also going waste.  Finally he decided to take things in his hand and ran away from home. Luckily for all, it was to his uncle’s house that he went. He explained the situation to his uncle and wearing his cousin’s dress he went to school and participated in all the items.

While he was tempted to run away somewhere for he was so scared of the repercussions back at home, good sense prevailed and he went back to his uncle’s house. The story ended without much damage yet it could have easily ended up in a tragedy!

Why do these things happen? When a child had undertaken a commitment (that too in his school and for a very legitimate purpose) shouldn’t have his parents let him fulfil that? By asking him to stay back, what were they teaching him? That he can easily go back on his commitments? That he has no control on what he promises and what he proposes to do in his life? 

Like a friend suggested, Indian parenting is all about feudal behaviour and completely undemocratic.  We never let children have a point of view. We want them to obey and not question at all.  No wonder they end up being followers throughout their life, merely obeying the commands of their leaders and other powerful position holders instead of rationalising about their acts and deeds.

Like any relationship, parent-children relationship also must be based on mutual communication! There is an utter lack of communication in many Indian homes. Parents fail to understand and empathise with their children! It is more ego, pride and ownership than compassion that rule parents’ behavior towards the children.    

Parents (and even teachers) find it much easier to use violence for enforcing their writs on the child.  There is no effort to reason with a child as to what is good or bad for him.  It is always obey or perish! The learning that they get is also simple- subdue the other side or submit to it! There is no middle way of reason. 

Remember, parent-child relationship is completely skewed in favour of parents.  Child is without any support or power to have his say.  In countries like India, there are not even public authorities for children to take refuge in, if the parents turn bad. Therefore, the onus to make the parent-child interaction work is more on the parents and less on the child. If we act childish with our children and not treat them on equal terms, these children will surely not become emotionally mature adults.  Child must always be encouraged to voice his concerns and even dissent and the parents must ensure that they are addressed in a transparent and democratic manner.

The result of this lack of two way communication is that the children find it difficult to confide in their parents about any problems that they might come across in their lives.  Parents fail to gain the trust of their children, forcing children to seek guidance and help from elsewhere.  These guidance and help are often risky as there are vested interests in the society to divert children towards dangerous ways of life, leading to even sex and drug abuse of children. The effectiveness of our parenting must be measured against the probability of our own children approaching us at their most difficult situations.  

I think parents should come down from high pedestal and be with their children on equal terms. Homes should teach more democratic values than outdated feudal values. Parents must earn respect and not demand it by virtue of their position alone.   We must stop teaching children at homes that might is right and violence is a means for ensuring compliance! That is the only way to ensure our society develops and retains these values.

It is time for us to teach our children, through our own live examples, those values that we preach to them. There is no point in preaching about honesty while trying hard to evade our tax liabilities or cheat our neighbour, in front of our children.  It is not our words but our lives and our actions that they will emulate in their own life.

We have to be better role models for our children. Unfortunately there are no short cuts.... Only way we can be effective role models for our children is by being at least average human beings, ourselves.  The lack of values in us makes it a tough call and the vicious cycle continues!  We must learn to break this cycle for ensuring a better tomorrow for the human race!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Yet Another Political Murder and Some 'Reactionary' Thoughts

Last night, one more life met its untimely end in my home district of Kozhikode, Kerala. Yet again, a brutal murder by political opponents.

This time the victim was a very popular political leader who dared to challenge the hegemony of Communist Party of India (Marxist) in its historic stronghold of Onchiyam.  TP Chandrasekharan, the victim, was the force behind the Revolutionary Marxist Party, (RMP) an offshoot of CPM fractional feuds. 

TP, who began his struggles with CPM’s official leadership as a factional leader of VS Achuthanandan group, ended up having to go out of the party like most of the once trusted VS supporters, who failed to succumb to the leadership.  What differentiated TP was his excellent organisational skills and the wide popularity among local people.  He succeeded in creating a rebel movement in Onchiyam and surrounding areas and taking along the otherwise diehard CPM supporters with him. 

Onchiyam was always a very strong hold of CPM, right from the struggles of 1940s and the infamous police firing of 1943.  So, when the Party was successfully challenged by TP and his followers, it became a prestige issue for the official leadership of CPM, more so because it challenged the top leadership directly.  The rebels and their supporters were hunted and attacked all the time.  Latest being the open violence and threats to life to stop conducting of the Area Convention of RMP at Onchiyam at any cost. 

A bright, upright and upcoming political leader got killed.  In the recent past of Kerala, this must be the senor most leader to get murdered.  However, life is precious irrespective of whether it is a leader or a follower!  From that perspective this brutal murder is just another statistics in an ongoing series.

The areas north of Vadakara in Kozhidode district and south of Payyannur in Kannur district have had to live through this mindless violence for decades now.  So many lives got ended prematurely and so many families got destroyed.  Friends and neighbours targeted and killed their own - at the command of political bosses.  Most of the political parties operating in these areas were part of the cycle of violence at some point or other. 

While I am tempted to blame the entire political class in general, I believe time has come to fix responsibilities more specifically.  It is in this context one has to see the role of CPM in the violence.   CPM is the only constant in most of the political murders that took place in the area, either as perpetuators or as victims! Only exception being short cycles of RSS- Muslim League violence in certain pockets.

CPM had indulged in the killing contest with RSS in Talasserry, in Kannur, with a daily score card, for many years.  Similarly, I strongly believe that CPM had a role in pushing the Muslim youth into taking up violence because it was mainly in retaliation to their targeting of Muslims and their properties in Nadapuram and surrounding areas.  Recently, CPM brought the murder politics further down south to Payyoli, where a young RSS worker was hacked to death in front of his wife and mother, in his own house.

The violent feud between the current Kannur MP from Congress, Mr Sudhakaran and the CPM leadership of Kannur is also well known.  It is widely known that but for Sudhakaran’s violent resistance, CPM would decimate any opposition in Kannur!

The party leadership always washes their hands off these murders by repeating the same excuses.  However, their leaders do not find it odd to give open threats to their opponents from public stages.  It is also well known that CPM as a party always provided a convenient list of workers to be booked for these murders, there by letting the real culprits who are more professional and hardened killers working for the party escape the law!  This system of sponsored accused is the main cause for continued violence in these areas.  

The history of mercenary killings from these parts of the State, made famous by the ‘Vadakkan Paattu’ (Northern Folksongs) is getting repeated in these modern political battles.  For the people of this area, the heroes were always the members of the martial households, who fought battles as mercenaries, for settling disputes among individuals or families.  Number of popular songs, dramas and films made on the life of such warriors is enough proof for the influence of this culture and its protagonists on the local population.

Today, murders are committed by similar mercenaries of political parties, especially CPM and RSS, at the behest of their leaders.   These killers get protected by the parties within the sanctuary of deep ‘party villages’ and the police close the case by arresting other innocent youth deputed by the party and/or accused by the opposite parties.  No sincere effort is made by the police to reach the roots of these heinous crimes because in most cases it will reach senior political leaders as conspirators!

Look at the reaction to this latest murder... UDF, the ruling Front of the State immediately called for a State wide Hartal.  Was the murder committed by the people of Kerala that they should be punished by a Hartal? That too by the ruling Front? Instead of this Hartal and such political drama, UDF should ensure that prompt action is taken to ensure best possible inquiry into the murder and make sure that the big fish behind the conspiracy are brought to book.

This is not too much to ask for, in a law abiding society.  Yet, I am not sure whether the current government that includes many Ministers who have benefitted in the past from such mutual back scratching from LDF (and CPM in particular) will do enough to take the inquiry to its logical conclusion.  Meanwhile, the same leaders will decide their next victim and plan their attack strategy!  The new disturbing rumour doing rounds in official circles is that of Party courts that decide the fate of the political opponents!

Before I conclude, we the people also need to consider our own complacency.  At least we must seek answers from party leaders as to why they are still leaders if they can’t control the murders and attacks by their supporters, even if they say that they and their party are not involved.  Murder after murder we close our eyes and never question our political masters.  We faithfully go and vote for the same leaders based on our ideologies, conveniently forgetting the fact that ideologies are for the benefit of human beings and not vice versa!

Let the police and courts do their job sincerely and reach the real culprits.

Let the political leaders be accountable in the eyes of people, for these attacks, until proven innocent...

Let there not be any more mercenaries... or scapegoats... to ruin their own lives!

Let the people of Malabar (who are otherwise very peace loving) be able to wash the bloodstains from their hearts!

Let not there be any more murders...

Let there be peace and brotherhood!

No politics or no ideology is as important as human life!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Story from the Kitchen Garden for my 100th Blog Post

In any journey, I believe milestones are more important than the destination. Destination indicates the end of a journey while milestones indicate its progress.  Therefore, I am happy about reaching this milestone of my 100th post in this blog!

I must thank all the readers, especially my friends from Twitter who have not only visited and read my posts but also commented and gave me feedback at all time. It is these visits and feedback that makes blogging an interesting activity.

For this post, I have chosen a subject that is not my usual areas of interest. This is about the kitchen garden that my wife Anitha and our children Uday and Jyothika (aged 13 and 7) cultivated in the small courtyard of our house, Ambadi. 

Like most of the houses in Kerala, Ambadi also has a small courtyard.  When we constructed the house we had lot of offers to convert this space into a landscaped lawn.  However, it was our choice to use the space for making a kitchen garden than for almost an artificial looking lawn.  

We were not sure of the success of such an idea. I usually staying away from home for most part of the month, on my work, and Anitha being busy with her official duties as a revenue officer, neither of us had much time to spare. The type of soil was also not considered good for cultivation.   It was also our opinion that there would be no fun in getting any work done by the labourers on hire. 

So we decided that whenever I am at home, I will finish all the works that are tougher, like readying the land and digging etc.  Anitha decided to dedicate at least half an hour each in the morning and evening for nurturing the garden and my mother promised to take care of watering the garden whenever neither of us are around for doing that. Both the children also agreed to adopt specific areas of plants and maintain them as their own.  With these understanding we set out to undertake the task.

Initially our neighbours laughed at us. But when the garden began to take shape some of them got interested and began replicating the efforts in their houses too.  The dedication of Anitha and our children was complete and evident in the various kinds of vegetable plants that began to grow with all their splendour.

It gave a reason for all of us to physically work together and believe me, there is enough fun and bonding in those activities! I was so happy to see the interest of kids and to see them spending time in the garden religiously, on their own, instead of wasting it all in front of the TV.  Even when I was away, I used to get regular updates on all the developments in the garden and it was real fun to listen to the stories told with much enthusiasm.

 Very soon we began to get the benefits from what was started as mere curiosity.  The quality of the produce was excellent as we never used any chemical fertilisers or pesticides.  We soon stopped buying vegetable at home. There were enough for our use and much more to gift to friends and relatives. 

It was merely coincidental that when the first set of our produce was ready to harvest, parts of Kerala were bearing the brunt of a road blockade by Tamilnadu politicians who were protesting against Kerala’s demand for a new dam in place of the over a century old Mullaperiyar dam.  Though the prices of vegetables had sky rocketed with the blockade, we were not affected at all.

It was an eye opener for me as to how, with little bit of effort from the family members, we could ensure self sustainability of our requirements.  It is also possible to make it a source of additional income, with some extra efforts and dedication.

wouldn't prolong this post any further.  Let the Garden speak for itself through the photos that I clicked from there.  I will just say that for the last seven months this small garden is taking care of over 90% of our vegetable requirements.  It also gives up immense pleasure when we watch the garden grown and when we proudly share the produce from there with our friends and relatives.

While we all gave whatever support we could, I must say that the credit for this successful experiment truly belongs to Anitha and her dedication.

Once again I thank all the readers who honoured me by making the effort to read and comment my posts.