Today is Vijayadasami, the last day of the Navraathri Pooja festival when people celebrate the victory of the good over evil. This is the season when soldiers worship the weapons they use and students the books they study. I wondered what should our people in government be worshipping? Mamon or the devil himself? Anyhow this train of thought led me to start my own vidhyarambham by showering the choicest epithets in my repertoire on the most good-for-everything-bad person on this side of the Western Ghats. But I soon realized that these would not be a patch on the perfidy and treason of this person. So I have limited myself to listing the top 5 on two lists: ‘Not doing anything that he (the Chief Minister of the Government of Kerala) is expected to do’ and ‘Doing everything that he (the Chief Minister of the Government of Kerala) is expected not to do’.
1. Not doing anything that he is expected to do.
1.1. As the Chief Minister of the Government of Kerala he has been tasked, empowered and paid to the extent of being pampered to work for the greater common good of the citizens of India who are native to this part of the country. In this he is expected to be guided the Directive Principles of State Policy as explained in the Constitution.
1.2. As the Chief Minister of the Government of Kerala, we, the citizens, have placed a lot of resources at his disposal which he is expected to manage judiciously and fairly for achieving the objective of Justice- social, economic and political- enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.
1.3. As the Chief Minister of the Government of Kerala, he is required to be beyond reproach as his conduct is supposed to be totally transparent and worthy of emulation.
1.4. Such incompetence as this government has displayed cannot be imagined in any democracy worth the name. A bill passed unanimously by the whole lot of elected representatives in the Legislative Assembly almost two years ago, to set up a tribunal to compensate the victims of Coca Cola bottling plant at Plachimada, remains in cold storage in one of the posh offices in Delhi.
1.5. How much do the citizens of Kerala know about the pros and cons of the UID or Aadhaar which have been thrust on them in unusual haste? But look at the tax payer’s money splurged on advertisements (with mostly exaggerated claims of unsubstantiated achievements and mirage like promises) on the occasion of completing 1 year of governance by the UDF and on the eve of another bash in the name of Emerging Kerala!
2. Doing everything that he is expected not to do.
2.1. Kerala can easily be said to be the worst governed state in the country. That it tops the list of states with highest rate of suicides and consumption of alcohol is proof enough for this. And the only businesses that it is doing with full gusto seems to be selling liquor and lottery tickets! (Of course that is apart from the not so open business of helping every known and unknown mafias-land, sand, forest etc- on this side of the Sahyadris).
2.2. The resources that we have placed at the disposal of the CM is not to be treated as dowry or inheritance from his pop’s assets. But that is exactly what Mr Ommen Chandy has been doing. While he has been volunteering to pay the hospital bills of celebrities who have no need for any financial help, poor patients depending on the government run hospitals are forced to depend on external pharmacies and laboratories for their medicines and diagnostic services at unaffordable cost. Examples are plenty- while cricketers and film actors are the beneficiaries of his indulgence there are plenty of cases of poor people running from pillar to post to get some financial help or refund of expenses they have incurred while seeking treatment from government hospitals. The number of sick and old people who have been brought- in ambulances and on stretchers- to the venues of his much touted Public Contact Programs would alone suffice to prove the perfidy of this person mismanaging our resources authoritatively with impunity! And now even a football player coming to the State to inaugurate a private business showroom and air taxi service is being pampered as a state guest at the cost of the poor and hapless tax payer! (I need to clarify that all these celebrities are lovable people and I too, personally, hold them in great esteem. But the point is that they do not need financial largesse from the government. In the case of Maradona, the King of Football, not only is the government not required to spend on him, it is also required to recover the cost related to provision of security etc from those who have brought him to our land as part of a campaign for their business! Of course even these expenses could be condoned had the government been able to fulfill the basic needs of health care and education to all the citizens here instead of only whining about the lack of funds for fulfilling these most essential of their responsibilities.)
2.3. While the Right to Information Act is supposed to be a landmark legislation to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed, this law been totally subverted in this state. Not only have even the basic requirements like the mandatory information required to be disclosed proactively not been disclosed, there have not even been any transparency in the appointment of information commissioners who are required to enforce the law using the penal provisions effectively. It may sound ludicrous, funny, offensive and all that but it is also true that when information was sought from the Public Information Officer in the office of the Chief Minister on the action taken on an application submitted to the Chief Minister sometime earlier, the reply received was that the application ‘seems to have been submitted to the earlier incumbent and there is no provision in the Secretariat system to transfer files and documents when incumbents change’!
2.4. In contrast to the dumped Special Tribunal Bill, a controversial bill to facilitate misuse of plantation land for resorts has been pushed through without any problems being encountered anywhere, by the time one could say ‘ithe poyi, ithe vannu’!
2.5. Do the citizens know that after spending about £250 million (that is about Rs 2000 Crores at current exchange rates!) over eight years on developing the National ID (NID) program, the UK government (administering a population of just about 62 million which is less than 6 percent of the population of Mera Mahan Bharath!) abolished it? This scrapping of the project meant that Britain avoided spending another £800 million over a decade. The NID was launched in July 2002-and as of February 2010, its total costs rose to an estimated £4500 million. The UK government has cited higher costs, impracticality and ungovernable breaches of privacy as reasons for cancellation of the NID project. These concerns will no doubt impact India as well. (See: http://www.moneylife.in/article/8/5684.html). It is important to note that even as the process to issue Aadhaar cards began, fake cards even in the name of Nandan Nelekani, heading the project, had been produced? And we all know how tardy and error prone has been Voter’s Identity Cards issued by the Election Commission of India. Not to mention the gross crime of not even having a reliable electoral roll- the Gita-Bible-Koran-like document in a democracy! And for that matter, what is the quality of the process of issue of even ration cards which have been in existence for so long as we have been free from the colonial yoke?
3. Of course these lists may not make any impact on any politician worth his/her name. But this is part of my vidhyarambham for this year. It is sincerely hoped that both my pen and my compatriots become stronger by the day throughout the year and the good will win over the evil before the year is out!
P M Ravindran