The “Dry Day” Comedy

Kerala’s liquor policy is one of the most stupid and ineffective decisions of the previous government which is being continued to the date by the current government. According to the existing policy, bars and liquor shops would remain shut on the first of every month and on all government holidays. One of the reasons cited for this move was that the employees would spend a good portion of their monthly salary in the bars or for buying liquor from the shops on the first of every month. So the government thought this move would reduce the liquor consumption, but they were wrong.

In fact, the government statistics show that Malayalees’ liquor consumption has only increased ever since the policy put in place. The reasons are plenty. Not all drunkards are salaried people. There are so many people who work for daily wages who spend a good portion of their daily wages to buy liquor from the shops or from bar hotels. And for salaried sector, they buy and store liquor prior to the holidays (including Hartal days as Hartal is also a major holiday here in Kerala). So you can see big queues outside the liquor shops on 30th or 31st of every month. Well, that’s not all. Even on the 1st of every month and holidays, you will get liquor for some extra bucks. Some three star hotels sell liquor on these days through their backdoor. Only difference is that you will have to pay some extra than the usual shop rate. Some ‘wise men’ also store liquor in big quantities and sell them to their ‘regular customers’ on these Dry Days. So you only have to give them a call and get your bottle delivered, again, for some extra bucks.

So in effect, the government’s policy is only helping some private parties to make more money out of the Dry Days. This joke has got to stop and government should think about other ways to effectively implement the liquor policy.

(Image courtesy:

Sr. Abhaya Case – Arrests made

It looks like justice is finally being done in the Sr. Abhaya murder case. After 16 years, the CBI has arrested and remanded two priests and a nun on Nov 18th and 19th. The CBI joint director Ashok Kumar said the arrests were made on strong evidence. It was evident from the news came out in May 2008 that the narco analysis points at Thomas Kottoor, Jose Poothrikkayil and Stephy as the culprits.

The arrest also renews my faith in our country’s judicial system. Reportedly, there were serious tampering of evidence right from the beginning of the case inquiry. The case was initially taken by Kerala Police and then moved to Crime Branch and finally to several teams of CBI. The Court intervened and severly criticized CBI and closely followed up the case. If not for the Kerala High Court and the latest CBI team, the case would have been lost forever and the arrests would never have been made.

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Menses justifies polygamy?

Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker MusaliarIt is very common that religion being used for all the wrong purposes when it could have helped to enhance the lives of weak and the oppressed. Most of the times it would be the priests or clerics from a religion who would be misinterpreting the Holy Books to sustain their own interests and misleading the others within the community. The latest controversy about a comment from the senior Muslim cleric Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musaliar on polygamy shows that this trend still continues. Kanthapuram reportedly have said this: A second wife is biologically justified. Women’s menstrual cycle prevents them from sexual contact for 5-6 days.

His statement came in the backdrop of a state law reforms commission has come out with a draft bill to check polygamy and divorce by Talaq. The bill seeks that ‘monogamy shall be the rule’ and that ‘marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife is an offence.’

The proposed bill wants that “if any married Muslim, man or woman, marries again during the subsistence of the first marriage, the party who violates shall be guilty of bigamy under the IPC and punishable as such.

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From Goondaism to Terrorism

Whenever the bomb blasts, terrorist attacks and religious riots have made their way to the news headlines, Malayalees believed that nothing as such would happen in their part of the world. We always thought that such things happen because of the lack of education and since we have 100% literacy in Keralam, nothing will happen here. But this comfort zone has been busted with the news of two terrorists from Keralam killed in Kashmir.

This news and the investigation followed have brought out some terrible truth. That the state has become a major recruitment center for terrorists of the border. The newly recruited terrorists were taken for training in Pakistan and then later get ‘appointed‘ in Kashmir to fight the Indian Army. What is more interesting is the reason that attracted the Malayali youth to terrorism. One of the dead terrorists was a goonda prior to joining the terrorist group. Varghese Joseph, a born Christian who later converted to Islam, was a member of the notorious gang of Thammanam Shaji, a notorious gang leader. The investigative agencies say that Shaji has helped recruiting many youngsters to the terrorist groups. These goondas do not have any religious motive other than the financial gains. So they join the terrorist groups and they get benefits – motor vehicles and a monthly allowance. This money comes from the terrorist groups like Lashkar-E-Toiba.

So goondas turn to terrorism, but what leads the youngsters to goondaism? It is their penchant for easy-money. I can quote an example here. I remember the time when my neighbor was building his house. There was this young boy, not more than 18 years old, who came to do the masonry. You could hear him use the swear words aloud and that little fellow used to scold the older women in the team. Everybody had noticed him back then. By the time I saw him next, he had turned out to be the infamous pick-pocketer and small-time ganja dealer of the area. After a couple of years, I saw his photo in the newspaper. By this time he had become one of the most notorious goondas in the town. He and his gang mates were arrested for killing someone from the opposite group and their photo was in the news paper.
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The ‘real’ sad state of Malayalam cinema

There has been a hue and cry in many blogs from Kerala about the sad state of Malayalam cinema. It is a fact that the mainstream movies being released these days are mostly junk and rejected by the audience. But is the state of Malayalam cinema too bad to cry that we are losing the hard-earned status of the best of Indian cinema? Or are we seeing only one side of the coin?

It is true that we do not have a Bharathan or Padmarajan these days who used to bridge the gap between art films and commercial films. But we should also check our attitude towards good films. How many of us who are now furious about the lack of talent in Malayalam cinema have seen Karutha Pakshikal by director Kamal? Kamal himself was so sad about the situation and remember it had one of the two super stars of the Malayalam cinema, Mammootty, in the lead role. There were lots of people complaining about scriptwriter-director Ranjith and the superhuman characters he made for superstars. But when he made a wonderful film such as Kaiyoppu, the Malayalee audience turned their back to the film (remember it had such a star cast with Mammootty and Khushbu). These movies were released primarily because there are KSFDC theatres or else it would have gone from theatres in the first week itself. Adayalangal, which has won several state awards this year, was gone from the KSFDC theatre in the first week itself (director M G Sasi had tough time finding distributors for the film) and director Jayaraj is now looking for help to release his latest film Gulmohar.

This, I say, is the sad state of Malayalam cinema. That we crib so much about the lack of good films but turns a blind eye towards them when they are released. That the film makers are not being able to release their films because there is no interest from theatre owners or distributors. That we never move from our armchairs at least to buy one ticket to see the movie and help the team who worked hard to make the film happen.

Tail piece: The maximum number of films selected for Indian Panorama this year is from Malayalam cinema which includes, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Oru Pennum Randu Aanum, KP Kumaran’s Akashagopuram, TV Chandran’s Vilapangalkum Appuram, Priyanandanan’s Pulijanmam, MG Shasi’s Adayalangal, M Mohanan’s Kathaparayumbol and Jayaraj’s Gulmohar.

(Image courtesy: Rediff)

What about the language?

I just came to read a blog post that discusses the linguistic chauvinism and about the need of preserving a certain language. The language in question was Malayalam. The author of the post obviously got angry by the comment of a Government school teacher that a criminal case should be booked against the parents who send their kids to English medium schools. And I felt that both the comments from professor and the blogger have too much emotional elements in it.

The comment from the professor is of course stupid and irresponsible. Capital punishment to parents for sending their kids to the school of their choice is more of a laughable view point. However, in the process of placing counter arguments I feel that the blogger too has got emotional. There were a couple of questions raised in the post:

1) I speak malayalam, and read/write it with some difficulty, yet I do not see the point in learning poetry and prose! I mean, what is the whole idea?

A language is not just a mere tool for communication. There is a huge wealth of knowledge base that comes with it which is perfected across several years by several generations and passed on from generation to generation. This wealth of knowledge is recorded in various forms – Literature (and by literature, I am not referring to fiction only), proverbs, folk songs etc. Most of these forms contribute to a historical record of the then social system, society, eco system, weather and life in general. These have time and over shaped up the culture and our social and individual identity.

Now a possible question: Can the same not be translated to a globally accepted language, like English, so that it will be available to all those who are interested and they will not have to face the difficult of learning a particular language?

As well know, the language loses it’s beauty and more importantly the context, when it is translated. To understand something that is written in a language with it’s original beauty and context, you need to read it in the language in which it is written. The translations can have several interpretations and can be politically abused.

2) Languages evolve, but do they get killed?

Speaking of the death of a language, here is a quote from Wikipedia:

The most common process leading to language death is one in which a community of speakers of one language becomes bilingual in another language, and gradually shifts allegiance to the second language until they cease to use their original (or heritage) language. This is a process of assimilation which may be voluntary or may be forced upon a population. Speakers of some languages, particularly regional or minority languages, may decide to abandon them based on economic or utilitarian grounds, in favour of languages regarded as having greater utility or prestige.

Ironically, the languages which even evolve in itself can get killed by the same people who use it. The next question would be whether we need to preserve a language which is not in need by the same people who use it. But there comes the importance of preserving the knowledge treasure that the language has generated. And whether a person should acquire this knowledge or not is a personal choice, but there is no doubt that we don’t have any right to deny that treasure to the future generations to come, hence the need of preseverance.

English medium education and Malayalam

Learning English is essential these days to compete in the globalized world. I do not question that (and the sad state of affiars in Kerala state proves that even the English medium schools are not helping our children on using that language properly). But the news that the children being punished or fined for speaking Malayalam in the school premises do not leave a good impression on the kind of English education system that we have. This leaves an impression in the children that speaking Malayalam is a henious thing to do and they would begin to see their own language as third-class (which will then lead to view one’s own culture and tradition as third-class).

Linguistic chauvinism

Too much of love for anything that we hold dear to our hearts could make us extremists. So we need to take good care of the whole language-love not leading to regional or linguistic chauvinism. There is nothing wrong in taking pride of one’s own language or culture but when it turns to establish that only ours is supreme, it will cause trouble. That is what we see from the recent examples of social troubles caused by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena during anti-North Indian campaign or Kannada Rakshana Vedige during Raj Kumar’s capture and death.

[Image source: Wikipedia]