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e-journal from Centre for Public Policy Research
MINDTEXT is published by CENTRE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH Nadakavu Post, Vaikom Road, Cochin Kerala, India-682307 MINDTEXT is published each month and distributed free of cost. For subscription, log on to or send a written request to Articles or extracts from the CPPR material may be freely used elsewhere provided acknowledgment of their source is made. For other articles appearing in the journal, permission to re-publish other than for the use of review must be sought from the author. Views expressed in any signed article appearing in the MINDTEXT do not necessarily represent those of the Centre for Public Policy Research and CPPR accept no responsibility for them. Authors own responsibility for their articles. MINDTEXT TEAM Kalpana Sudheer, Lekha Pillai (Editors) T.V.Vinu (Layout/Design) Aneish Rajan (Editorial Consultant)


Centre for Public Policy Research endeavours in areas like research promotion, knowledge dissemination, capacity building, grass roots initiatives etc. This, the Centre believes, would be a humble beginning towards its larger efforts aimed at the creation of an equitable, socially just and environmentally sound state enriched by democratic and secular principles. It is our firm belief that each citizen has a vital role to play towards the accomplishment of these tasks. The Centre has a pool of talents from various parts of the country. They are assisted by the experts and luminaries in the respective fields. The Centre acknowledges and appreciates the value of an individual in his own area of activity and commitment to the society at large. The Centre looks forward to the guidance and support from each individual to accomplish its mission.

May Mania

Reality Check
People And Their Rights….. Food Security: The Way Ahead

From The Board
Regional Disparities And Development: The Indian Experience

Random Thoughts Raw
Today's Youngistan-it's My Life! Odd Ones Out

Which Path To Take…..

The Nigerian Diary Sidelines Reverberations Dead End




his month I was wondering how one would survive the scorching heat with temperatures rising to around 42O C. Well, the unthinkable happened when Delhi was blessed with heavy downpours in the third week of May. Rains in May would be the last thing I could ever think of, but the unexpected always happens unexpectedly! It creates in one a kind of mania- happiness since the heat has been substituted with cold but also irritation as one tends to feel gloomy due to the lack of sunshine and the slushy muddy traffic-filled roads of Delhi… That is what mania is all about! Well, aren't we all in that phase some time or the other? It makes one think; think anew and differently as well… May Mania would probably do the like: make one think, debate, argue and might also leave one restless about issues that would otherwise probably have skipped one's notice. Manu Sankar's article on food security focuses on the need for a responsible attitude towards the farmers in our country who toil hard to provide for the food security of her 1.2 billion population. He clearly brings out the need for people in their local economies to be responsible producers and consumers in order to see India attain food security. The issue of farmers in India today also draws light to the fact that the human rights of these farmers are being violated resulting in mass suicides. Lekha has elaborated on the issue of human rights violation in India today drawing also upon the urgent need for reforms in the system and incorporation of national action plans to ensure that the rights of all are safeguarded. Vinu in Odd Ones Out humorously draws attention to the idea that change is inevitable and part of the dynamic nature of society. Debika relates to a new type of change in society, something we would probably call a trend among youngsters todaythe trend to speak your mind fearlessly. This new pattern in communication the author says, speaks of a new type of society namely “youngistan” a society characterized by open minded, assertive and vocal youth. Nevertheless this society too faces dilemma that arise when matters of making a choice occurs. Join Malathy as she reflects on which path she should take, a question each of us have to answer at various points in life. In his regular column, Random Thoughts, Dhanuraj, Chairman, CPPR, deals with various policy related issues each month. This month the column interestingly discusses on how emigration and the alcohol industry in Kerala have contributed to the economy of God's Own Country. The author points to the visible truth that that the passport offices and the alcohol shops are the most crowded places in the state today! In Regional Disparities and Development: The Indian Experience, Aneish Rajan, Board Member, CPPR articulates on economic disparities in India today by analyzing historically the reasons that have contributed to the current situation. With emphasis on the agricultural and industrial growth patterns that were followed over the past few decades, the article tries to understand development within the larger framework of the planning process in India. Manali Shah in her column, The Nigerian Diary, shares her experience of the local transport system in four cities of Nigeria, wherein she interestingly explores the various means of commuting in one of the largest road networks in West Africa. Well, MT May aka May Mania is a conglomeration of various forms of the written expression of ideas; poems, articles and reflections all brought together to enrich its readers and initiate the process of critical thinking. Hope you enjoy reading this edition as much as we, the Editorial team, have enjoyed working on it! If the mania has caught up to you, please write to us and give us your feedback! Please send your comments to Wish you all a happy reading! Kalpana Sudheer Editor

may mania



uman rights are the inherent rights with each living individual in a society without any discrimination. They are the moral guarantees that people in all countries and cultures have simply because they are 'people'. The problems related to human rights have assumed paramount importance; the current issues related to the abandonment of human rights are intrinsic within the society. The two categories of entitlement rights and personal rights have been exploited to an extent that various global networks have been formed to minimize the very existence of such disparities. In India, the violation of human rights exists in every form, issues like dams and displacement, Special Economic Zones, groundwater exploitation, shift in agriculture pattern, problems of migrant labourers and exploitation of tribal rights are a few pertinent ones. The concept of human rights being synonymous with minority rights, far from defending either human rights or minority rights, actually denies the human rights of all. Despite of the fact that India cited policy initiatives and legislation, including the recent Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, India has failed to effectively implement these policies and laws. Dalits, tribals and other so-called backward classes continue to suffer severe discrimination, exploitation and violence. These vulnerable groups also have unequal access to services, employment opportunities and development programs. Protection for Dalits, tribals and other groups is limited because officials and police responsible for abuses are failing to discharge their duties to protect vulnerable persons routinely go unpunished. Today we need a reform in the system such that national action plans are formed to deal with such issues. A kind of human rights action service should be formed to help people to be more informed and be a apart of the global reform network. For eg. The network formed by an organization in Rajasthan; Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, in order to spread awareness regarding the Right to Information, has created history in reaching out to the uninformed population in the rural India. Such initiatives will help in sensitizing and helping people to demand for their rights and be able to counter the injustice, which still prevails. The Role of NGOs is crucial in spreading awareness regarding the importance of human rights and thus makes it an effective method in expanding and creating the human rights discourse. The Human rights instruments such as, the UN Charter , the Universal Declaration of human Rights and the National Human Rights Commission have opened various avenues for organisations both at international and national level to make genuine contributions towards safeguarding the rights of every individual. Development communication should be best utilized to influence public opinion and to create an outrage against human rights violation. Monitoring human rights violation is the first and foremost step towards bringing about advocacy and policy discourse. With the advent of globalization and the introduction of new technology, such methods gain importance not only in protecting human beings from the ill-effects of change but also in ensuring that all are allowed a share of the benefits.


By Lekha Pillai


Lekha is a member of the editorial team of MINDTEXT



By Manu Sankar
ndia is a land of small farmers. 650 million of her 1.2 billion people are living on the land and 80 percent farmers own less than two hectares of land. In other words the land provides livelihood security for 65 percent of the people and the small farmers of the country provide food security for over one billion of the population. Policies driven by corporate globalisation are pushing farmers off the land and peasants out of agriculture. This is not a natural evolutionary process. It is a violent and imposed process. More than 1,50,000 farmers have committed suicide in India due to distortions introduced in agriculture as a result of trade liberalization. The killing of peasants in Kalinganagar and Nandigram who were resisting land acquisition is another aspect of the violence involved in the forced uprooting of India's farmers. It is also depressing to know that the Government is also least interested to improve the lot of the farmers and the agricultural productivity. On the 26th of march 2007 while addressing the Confederation of India Industry (CII), Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh stated that “ As I said recently in the parliament we have to recognise that in a country like ours, where the average size of land holding is small, there are limitations to what you can do to improve agricultural productivity” Every Government institution, which should be looking after the welfare of the country and welfare of the farmers are launching an assault on the peasantry. The Agricultural Minister Mr Sharad Pawar whose job is to look after the farmers and provide them livelihood security, has stated that farmers need to be “weaned” off the land. The deputy chairperson of the planning commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia is talking of the feasibility of large corporate ownership farmland even as the farmers of Kalinganagar and Nandigram declare loudly and clearly that they intend to farm their land.



Globalisation and trade liberalisation policies have lead to privatization of land, water, forests, natural resources and above all the biodiversity. It is often the farmers of the country who share a close association with these commons. Village commons well categorized as “wastelands” under the British revenue system since the colonial powers could not collect revenues from them. Today, these so called wastelands are being transferred to industry. These wastelands are actually the common lands. Common lands are a significant form of natural resource endowment. It plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance, and more particularly in supporting the people, especially the rural poor in eking out a livelihood. However, the contribution of common lands to the rural economy and more particularly in supporting the people remains unappreciated. They also provide the people with the necessary fuel and fodder. Now these common lands are being diverted for the cultivation of Jatropha, a plant used for making Bio-fuel.

Village commons, as pastures, as wood lots, as sacred growers, grow biodiversity, which serves the rural economy, especially the landless, for needs of fuel, fodder, medicine and food. Jatropha plantations provide no fuel, no fodder, no food, for the village community. Village commons now provide raw material for the fuel for the cars of the urban rich. This is a shift from equity to inequity from sustainability to non-sustainability. Privatisation of such living resources merely deprives the common people, especially the poor farmers of vital needs to sustenance and livelihoods. It also imposes non-sustainable patterns on food production and agriculture. Wherever the farmers have been deprived of their land and livelihood and wherever they have been forced into corporate agriculture, the farmers have been in distress, the soil has been destroyed, the water has been overexploited and polluted. Wherever the farmers and the rural communities have been pushed off the land for industrialization it has lead to violence and they have turned out to be breeding ground for Naxalism. Our food security is too vital an issue to be left in the hands of a few transnational corporations with their profit motives. Food security for all is not possible within a global market system based on the dogma of free trade, competition and profit maximization. On the other hand Food security can be achieved if people within their local and regional economies feel responsible, both as producers and consumers for the ecological conditions of food production, distribution, and consumption and for the preservation of cultural and biological diversity where selfsufficiency is the mail goal. It is vital to note that a food secure and peaceful India is in the hands of her small farmers. Without the farmers India will be a food insecure, violent and undemocratic society It is high time we move from globalisation to localization, from aggressive domination to non-violence, from competition to equity and from understanding humans as masters over nature to humans as part of nature to achieve the larger goal of food security and food Sovereignty.


Manu Sankar is a researcher from Delhi


MINDTEXT congratulates Madhu S., CPPR team member from Kochi for securing the first prize in the Essay Competition conducted by Forum for Free Enterprise on Educational Reforms in India. Hearty congratulations to Harishankar K.S., CPPR team member, for his being awarded with a full scholarship to attend the prestigious annual summer school programme (7th to 25th of July,2008) in Private International Law by the Hague Academy of International Law at the Hague, Netherlands! The Centre is proud of both of you!

evelopment, by nature, has a tendency to get concentrated in a few places at a particular point of time. Because of agglomeration and internal and external scale economies, the growth tends to get polarized with commensurable backwash effects. An excessive concentration of growth factors result in spatial and functional imbalance. Disparities, taking advantage of cumulative effects get accentuated with dual system of space economydeveloped and backward.


By Aneish Rajan
As in most other developing countries, India has been experiencing since independence, a high and increasing concentration of population and economic activity at select locations. The outcome of this is wide disparity in welfare among different regions within the country. It is well known that in a large economy, different regions with different resource bases and endowments have a dissimilar development path over time. One of the reasons why centralized planning was advocated in India earlier was that it could restrain regional disparities.


This article would try to analyze, historically, the reasons of this enduring nature of regional disparity. It explains the preand post independent spatial pattern of development across the country, followed by a probe into the contours of agricultural and industrial growth patters. I have dealt mainly with the period from the 1970s to the 1990s, for the analysis. Various data, most of them published before 1990s, are included to substantiate the argument. The historic roots of inequalities lay in the feudal structure of Indian society.1 This structure got deeply entrenched during the colonial rule. The enforcement of landlordism in the Eastern part of India during the early years of the British rule was an example of this .They also inducted a colonial attitude, believing in an institutional distance between the government and the governed in the minds of the Indian people. This feudal and colonial bend of mind inherited by the Indian elite curbed the individual initiative at the mass level. With a check on individual initiative, the development process could not proceed unfettered. Since the productive assets with most of the people were meager and grossly unequally distributed, the permeation of technology in different spheres of the economy was limited and selective. The primary sector was influenced marginally by modern techniques. Household industries in rural areas continued depending largely on traditional methods. Industry and services did record some significant entry of latest technology but this development was confined mainly to metropolitan cities. The rise in productivity was slow. Also, as the benefits of modern technology accrued to a small group of rich investor, inequalities were found to accentuate in the process.2 Pattern of Regional Disparities During the early 1950s, examining the spatial pattern of economic development, Schwatzberg distinguished six types of areas characterized by 1) isolated tribal economy 2) subsistence peasant economy 3) incipient commercialization 4) advanced commercialization 5) economic diversification 6) large scale organization. Isolated tribal economy was located in Northeastern Himalayas, Central Indian belt, pockets in Western and Eastern Ghats and parts of Western Himalayas.3 Large economic organization was found in industrial concentrations such as Bombay, Calcutta and Ahmedabad. Economic diversification was noted in Kerala, Saurashtra and Delhi-Amritsar belt. Advanced commercialization as found in PunjabHaryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat Plains, Upper part of Maharashtra and parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The remaining large part of India was marked out as subsistence peasant economy for incipient commercialization. Many scholars rightly believe that these disparities are to be primarily attributed, as mentioned earlier, to the colonial experience of India. In many ways the disparities originating during the British rule showed a tendency to perpetuate and accentuate themselves by cumulative causation process. Even after planned development in the post-independence era, these policies had a diverse effect on different regions.4

1. Gopal Krishan, 'Trends in Regional Disparities in India', Asian Profile, Vol.17, No.3, June 1989, p.245. 2. Edison Dayal, 'Wealth and Poverty in Rural India', Geojournal 11(4),1985,p.369-382. 3. Joseph E. Schwatzberg, 'Three Approaches to the Mapping of Economic Development in India', Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 52(4),1962,p.455-468. 4. Krishna Bharadwaj, 'Regional Differentiation in India : A note', EPW, 17(14-16), 1982.

Imperial policies in respect of land settlement systems, government investment in irrigation, railways, plantations, all had a regionally varying impact on the development process. Agriculture generally stagnated in Zamindari areas, as in Bengal, but advanced in Ryotwari areas in Punjab, Madras and Bombay. Investment in canal irrigation as in Punjab was crucial to agricultural development of the area. Construction of railways led to the concentration of industry, trade and commerce in port cities but caused underdevelopment in their hinterlands through the 'backwash' effects. Indian planning framework, which was made to narrow down disparities, has been built around the principles of factor mobility, social equity and decentralized decision-making.5 The establishment of public sector iron and steel plants in backward regions, completion of multipurpose river projects in various parts of the country, initiation of separate plans for hill and tribal tracts and special assistance to drought prone, flood affected and industrially backward areas were all geared to that goal. Thus some scholars observe that as a result of these schemes, disparities showed a tendency toward a decline by the middle of the sixties.6 During the first fifteen years of Indian planning, it was argued that there is a trend towards convergence in the development level of Indian states. But Ansari and Mathur observe a divergence since the later half of the sixties.7 A further accentuation in regional disparities occurred in the 1970s, because the relative share of public sector investment declined and private sector investment looked more towards already developed areas. The Central government allocations of financial resources and centrally sponsored schemes helped the relatively developed states more than their less developed counterparts.8 Based on a study of 15 states, P.C Sarkar states the link between regional imbalances and plan outlays. He discovers a strong link between development- measured in terms of 14 variables including per capita consumption of electricity, percentage of villages electrified, per capita expenditure on health, effective literacy rate etc. and the per capita plan outlays for the different states. According to the composite index of development which he calculated, Punjab scores the highest and Bihar the lowest.9

Agreeing with this mode of analysis, Ravi Srivastava argues that “nearly forty years after the initiation of the planning process, there has been a steady increase in the disparity in terms of economic indicators such as Per Capita State Domestic Product (PCSDP) and Per Capita Sectoral Net Product (PCSNP)”. 10 Agricultural Change The agrarian policy of the early years of planning was to reorganize the agrarian structure and make it more conducive to growth and equity. This varied from state to state. The reform came into effect in several Eastern Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, with a delay of 4-10 years. The increase in yields through increased irrigation, fertilizers, seeds etc. during the Second Plan period was also regionally disparate. Expenditure on these programmes was concentrated in Bombay, Uttar Pradesh, Madras and Punjab. During the Third Five Year Plan the scene was radically changed by the New Agricultural Strategy. A few districts were selected to focus on increasing the crop yields. As a result of this, the regions could be broadly grouped into three1. Dynamic and sustained change showing regions- mostly in Punjab, Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana 2. Regions in slow transition and showing the signs of distinctively uneven change 3. Regions showing virtual stagnation. During 1962-65, states in the first category accounted for 36 of the 50 high growth districts. Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu accounted for another 10 of the high growth districts. At the same time, 133 out of the 289 districts analysed, experienced a growth rate below 1.5% per annum.11 Most of them were located in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. Between 1969 and 1984, Punjab and Haryana showed sustained growth rates. Growth rates in Karnataka showed deceleration in this period. Agricultural growth rates remained low further in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar. The significant feature of growth patterns in this period was the continuation of high growth rates in the Green Revolution areas and the emergence of high growth district in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, along with the worsening growth rates in Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and the downward shift of some districts in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. 12

5. O.P Mathur, 'The problem of regional disparities: An analysis of Indian policies and programmes', p.121-146 in Fu-chen Lo and Kamal Sabth,(eds) Growth Pole Strategy and Regional Development Policy, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1978. 6. Gopal Krishan, 1989, p.256. 7. M.M Ansari, 'Financing of State's Plans : A Perspective for regional development', EPW, 18(49), 1983, p.2077-2082. 8. K.K George and I.S Gulati, 'Centre-State resource transfers', EPW 20(7), 1985, p.287-295. 9. P.C Sarkar, 'Regional imbalances in Indian economy over Plan periods', EPW, Vol 29, No.2, March 1994, p.621-633. 10. Ravi Srivastava, 'Planning and Regional Disparities in India' in T.J Byres(ed) The State and Development Planning in India, New Delhi, 1994, OUP, p.147. 11. Ibid, p.154. 12. However, despite the decline in agricultural growth, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu had shown growth in terms of the development of the secondary and tertiary sectors, while Bihar lagged further in these sectors.

Growth Pattern of Industries As envisaged by planning, industries were set up under the public sector in the resource rich areas so as to produce the capital goods, which would in turn reduce the dependence on the import of such goods. However, the lack of infrastructure, low level of technology of production and lack of entrepreneurship in the backward areas supported the location of those industries that were highly capital intensive in nature in developed states first to utilize fully the available infrastructure that these states could provide and to derive maximum output. Thus, the techno-economic feasibility dictated the location. The backward states did not enjoy any other advantages except the occurrence of natural resources. These states suffered from structural backwardness with low level of technology and low levels of agriculture, industrial and urban development. Though the first industrial policy was adopted in 1948, only the Industrial Policy Resolutions of 1956 had articulated the problems of industrial development in the backward regions. The main objectives were to achieve a balanced and coordinated development of industrial and agricultural economies in each region to attain parity in per capita income and living standards in the whole nation. The Planning Commission noted increasing regional disparity in industrial development during the Third Five Year Plan (1961-66). It advocated balanced regional development. In 1968l, the Commission appointed two committees- the first to identify the industrially backward areas and the second to recommend fiscal and financial incentives for starting industries in them. These recommendations were given due consideration during the formation of the Fourth Five Year Plan. The 1977 Industrial Policy emphasized balanced regional development by imposing restrictions on licensing and financial assistance to the new industrial units within the limits of large metro cities having populations of 1 million and above. Then the statement of industrial policy in 1980 indicated that the correction of industrially backward areas. Special concessions and facilities were offered. New focal points of industrial growth based on the availability of raw material, infrastructure and manpower were proposed.13 The Growth Path State wise Per Capita Indices of industrialization (Factor sector) 1970-71 and 1985-86, Table 1&2,14 make it clear that Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab had the highest share in the number of factories, while Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa, Assam, Rajasthan and Haryana had the lowest. In terms of productive capital and the number of workers, Maharashtra and Gujarat had a higher share. By this criteria also, poor states like Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and even Kerala remained at the lowest. Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh require special mention here, since these two states also shared the lowest standard in 1970-71. But they were successful in making reasonable growth during the next 15 years (Andhra Pradesh's per capita productive capital went up from Rs 138.16 in 1970-71 to Rs 775.40, while Madhya Pradesh managed a substantial growth from Rs 166.6 to Rs 114.75).15 The poorer states were declared industrially backward and became eligible for central and state investments, incentives and concessions as designated by the Planning Commission. Data from the Annual Survey of Industries also reveal the fact that the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu together accounted for 53.82% of value added by manufacture in 1985-86. In the case of employment in factor sector in 1970-71, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat occupied the first four places. To be continued……


13. C.R. Pathak, 'Regional Disparities in India', Geographical Review of India, Vol.58, No.4, September 1997, p.196-203. 14. Table source Annual Survey of Industries, 1985-86, Central Statistical Organisation. 15. Ibid, Table 2, State wise per capita indices of industrialization, 1970-71 and 1985-86.

Aneish is a Board Member of CPPR and the Editorial Consultant of MINDTEXT

ast month, I had visited the Passport office Cochin to get my damaged passport replaced by a new one. On my first visit I reached the office premises by noon itself and then realized that there was no point coming there so late; I should probably have come to the office earlier. I ended up going to the passport office for the next two days. Well, atleast on the third day I managed to get my application form filled! This brings to mind an old Doordarshan advertisement about family planning that portrays a person who on a tour around the city notes that family planning centres lie vacant while theatres are fully packed, streets jammed and parks crowded! Interestingly one can note that in Kerala today the most crowded places are no longer ration shops (PDS) or theatres; if I am not wrong, the Passport Offices and Kerala Beverages Corporation outlets bag the first place as far as crowds are concerned. Well, on returning to my office after the trip to the Passport office I quickly looked up some statistics pertaining to Kerala, which I find to be interesting. Migration has contributed to poverty alleviation in Kerala more than the other factors like agrarian reforms, trade union activities and social welfare legislations. 1.5 million Keralites now live outside India (1998 data). They send home more than Rs.4,000 million a year by way of remittances. At the State level, there were altogether 3.75 million migrants. With an estimated 6.35 million households in 1998, the Migration per residence stands at 60 per cent. This means that corresponding to every 100 households in 1998, there were 60 migrants. Between 1988/92 and 1993/97 the number of emigrants increased by 120 per cent. An average emigrant from Kerala spends around forty four thousand rupees to go abroad. Money is spent on buying tickets, visa fees and also for the agent's commission.1 Studies have shown that emigrants from Kerala were, by and large, of the working age; nearly four-fifth of them belonged to the age group of 20 to 34 years. Remittances, which began in small amounts during the 1970s, swelled to more than Rs.18465 crore in 2004.2 In 2006 -07 periods, a record 616,906 passports were given out from three passport offices in the state, according to figures provided by the external affairs ministry. The Kozhikode office issued a record 272,804 passports, followed by Kochi with 196,097 and Thiruvananthapuram with 148,005, according to data. This does not surprise me as opportunities in the state are not adequate to meet the requirements of its 350 million population; also keeping in mind the fact that Keralites look for white collar jobs in their homeland but finding none resort to working out of the state. I remember one of my trips to Kozancherry, a small town in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala where I come across more than fifteen ATM counters all within a radius of three kilometers! Some of them are of unknown banks (operating from outside India). I still wonder why there is not at least a Green Field Airport in that area despite the fact that it has a substantial emigrant population. Sabarimala piligrim centre is also nearby, an added advantage to any entrepreneur to establish an airport in Central Travancore. Now, that provides ample reason for the government to establish more and more passport offices as well as airports all over Kerala. If US economy depends on the consumption pattern of its citizens, Kerala state Government is very much indebted to the alcohol consumption pattern of God's Own Country.3 Liquor sales in the state have gone up from Rs.20 billion in 2006 to Rs.23.11 billion 2007. Kerala has the highest per capita liquor consumption in the country. A study has shown that 72 percent of the 42,365 road accidents in the state this year were because of drunken driving. I am always surprised at 'IMFL Indian Made Foreign Liquor' tag attached to beverages. Does it mean that the customers of alcohol business in Kerala are still Swadeshi in their choice of liquor differing from their foreign gene in other spheres of their lives? One should visit to understand the significance of the liquor business in Kerala. We should not forget that the toddy business in the state, the demand of which goes up to 15 lakh litres each day, is providing employment for more than a lakh toddy tappers. I would love to think of the day when toddy gets tagged as IMFL especially in areas outside India where Keralites are of a sizeable population.


1. 2. 3.

D. Dhanuraj is the Chairman of CPPR



Odd ones out

ur College stands out, with all its royal grandeur and pride, as an odd one amongst the modern multi-storeys that have sprouted recently in its neighbourhood. An old and ailing structure that dates back to the time when the royal families ruled the city, life in and around it still moves at its own leisurely pace. The pavement outside the college swarms with several hawkers and sundry vendors. One among them is Padayappa (real name not known). We never cared to ask him what his real name was nor did he give it. We don't know where he comes from in the morning or where he goes by night, but he is seen at his shop every day. Padayappa is a cobbler, a short dark man. His 'shop' is made of four poles that hold a rectangular piece of plastic sheet over his head as the roof. Worn out shoes neatly arranged on top of cardboard boxes and his work tools adorn the 'interiors'. One can see him sitting on an old sack spread on the pavement floor, resting leisurely on the cardboard boxes, occasionally puffing plain cigarettes. His head always remains bowed; his eyes are tracking the feet of whoever is passing through the pavement. His eyes are on the footwear that you are wearing. At times Padayappa is seen drunk and shouting at fellow pavement vendors otherwise he is silent and is an excellent workman. The most interesting thing about him is whenever his daily earnings reach a particular amount he would close the shop. He would pack the shoes in those cardboard boxes, remove the poles and would leave. The reason, we found out, was that whenever the earning reached a sum that was enough to buy a pint of liquor, he would stop working that day! Whenever we passed by his shop on the pavement, we used to simply nag him in front of his customers. Then he would give us a warning look with his work tool in his hand. But both knew that the other was joking. He would talk to us when he was not busy mending shoes. He would complain about the authorities approaching him asking to pay karom (tax) for the 'shop' or leave the pavement. We would say that all he wanted was toxin i.e., alcohol and nothing else. We would then part, telling him that he would not remain for long. Last day I was just passing through and I looked out at my college. All those good old days that I spent as a student in that campus suddenly flashed by in my eyes. The college's main building used to be the Legislative Council Hall of erstwhile Thiru-Kochi. Recently, it was declared as a World Heritage Structure. Now, with Government aid, the college stands renovated; fresh coat of paint, new windows and doors, tiled floors, newly erected name board, new gates, strong boundary walls, and a small garden. My bus moved on and my eyes were staring on the pavement. It was being tiled as there was some new multi-storey building coming up. As I looked on, I saw the arrogant little Padayappa was missing. There was no trace of him or his shop. He was gone. It was a strange feeling. I felt sad about Padayappa. Some times one develops a strange attachment to a particular thing, that when suddenly it goes missing, there is a vacuum left behind. May be the odd ones are getting out. Some are clinging on others who lend a hand. The rest who get no such helping hands are getting erased. As they say 'the Change is inevitable'. Every thing has to change and if it does not, it will surely succumb. It's only a matter of time; in the end everything has to go... everyone has to move on…



The author is a CPPR Team Member and handles layout/design of MindText.

it's my life!
By Debika Roy Chaudhary
oday's generation “YOUNGISTAN” doesn't mind being politically incorrect anymore. They speak their mind inventing their own lingo and even slang words for that matter. Almost every informal conversation consists of the line “what the **** ” to express their dissent on an issue. They won't stand up for any nonsense and give a piece of their mind on issues whether they are political or personal, whether their words or opinions are sweet or sour, right or wrong. Formal manners and niceties have taken a back bench. Thus today's generation has become more assertive, self confident and vocal. At least they are voicing their opinions rather than just keeping quiet. Social networking sites like orkut, facebook etc., blogs and other websites are all evidence of this rising trend. Yes. It has become a trend. Its “cool” and “in” to speak your mind. THANK GOD! It reflects the fact that they are comfortable with being who they are and are not afraid to be themselves anymore. Their attitude and behaviour is in line with democracy. However they must have the patience to hear others out too. Thanks to the media and the internet technology, all this has become easier and possible.



They prefer to be light hearted and humorous rather than serious and sentimental. Mind you, this generation consists of ambitious and focused individuals. They are fearless and strive to achieve their dreams whether their own society accepts their choices or not, after all they strongly believe, “its my life.” Long live Youngistan!
Debika is a student of Masters in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University

hich path to take… Wh Which path to take… ... which path to take h path to take… whic take... which path to which path to take…
By Malathy
I stand here wondering which Path to take The paths, which are yet to be made… The paths already traced out in front Where will they take me What dangers and hurdles lie in front I know not Only the courage and spirit of life Takes me ahead But still I am in a dilemma Knowing that it doesn't matter, whatever Has to happen will But still the mind wonders and wonders on The confusion clouds the mind And renders logic and reason helpless As I stand wondering here which path to take in life
Malathy is a Team member of CPPR, Bangalore


the nigerian diary
By Manali Shah

Getting Around in Naija
Nigeria as a country has a diverse range of differently accessible means of transport. The railway system connecting selected large cities, is largely defunct due to negligence and poor maintenance, but may revive with the government's plans for privatisation. One of the rare routes that works within cities is in Lagos and the sight of passengers literally hanging from the doors and some even sitting on top of the train in Lagos reminded me of the Bombay trains...Air transport is still seen as a luxury affordable only by business people and the rich! Average cost of a one-way plane ticket ranges from Naira 15,000-20,000. Nigeria has the largest road network in West Africa and the second largest south of the Sahara. Most Nigerians travel by road. Though when I suggested the idea of a road trip when Parth comes over, many of my colleagues were quite shocked and advised us to travel by air due to the bad condition of roads and incidence of armed robberies at night. Can you imagine that we covered a distance of 200 km in two hours (AbujaJos)? I had a hard time convincing people that in India the same distance could take, up to 6 hours! All cities have designated “motor parks,” where you can get a bus or bush taxi getting to multiple designations. You will experience “at your service,” vendors with cold drinks, snacks, fruits and men constantly announcing the destinations on partially working amplifiers (of course courtesy of NEPA). Well the road offers a variety of options each with its pros and cons! Many of this are considered "informal" as there is no licensing system required for operation. One mysterious player in the road transport system is the National Union of Road Transport Workers which from whatever I have come to understand, is more of an extortionist than a protector of rights! a) The "Windy" Okada: Named after a defunct airline (which was named after a town), "Okada" refers to commercial motorcycles in Nigeria, where motorcycle riders carry passengers (from one to three) for hire. It is one of the chief modes of informal transport. The popularity and widespread acceptance of Okada has rapidly risen in recent years as they are seen as the only saving grace to get through the "go-slows" (traffic jams) and of course they are the only mode that offers "door to door" service! So even if you don't take them on the express ways, they are the only ways of getting to your destination off the main road. As many told me, okada riding is a unique experience and one that really "localises you" (makes you live like a nigerian)...But of course it is fast, furious and you need to be an assertive passenger if you think its too fast for you! The Okada drivers are a curious bunch, many of whom, as one driver told me, have taken to okada driving due to shutting down of business due to no NEPA. I have had very interesting conversations with some of them (one was expressing his awe about Bajaj okadas being very efficient because the company did research on the Naija roads and one even asked if Indira Gandhi was still alive!).


b) The Motley Mini-Buses: These "use till they die" minibuses called "danfos" or the slight larger "molues" can carry upto 30-50 people (four or five in a row). And whether you have a comfortable ride or not depends on how thin the co-passengers in your row are! These buses have fixed prices and follow a fixed route, which is usually stamped on the side of the bus. The added convenience is that they stop anywhere to pick or drop passengers and do not have fixed time schedules. They are often privately owned and have an anarchic operating style, lacking central control or organisation. In many countries they create problems that are due to the ways in which they are driven and the conditions of their almost always old, polluting and often dangerous vehicles. The drivers of the small yellow buses-"danfoes" [my ride to and from office!] rent the bus from the owners. So after they buy fuel, pay rent to the owner and a "tax" to the taxi park where they load/ offload passengers, what remains is their profit. Unlike the locals, I have great respect for the conductors and drivers because of the constant harassment they face from passengers, especially while returning change! c) The Burly BRT: Following the shoes of many cities across the world (including Delhi!) the Lagos state government launched the Bus Rapid Transit System in March 2008. These well-maintained buses come with a special lane operating on select dedicated routes and slowly will cover all major thoroughfares in the Lagos metropolis. Besides high speed, fantastic feettapping local music and comfort (only when you get a seat!), BRT is by far the safest means and is quite reliable (especially if you have to get to meetings on time!). The only time it can get on your nerves is when you have to wait in line (standing as opposed to the seated waiting for "go-when-full" minibuses) to get into a neck will soon get a strain if I continue the rate at which I turn my head in the hopes of seeing an empty bus! On every occasion I take the BRT, there is always some wahalla (problem) with tired, waiting and thus angry passengers who are not allowed to get on visibly “empty buses”! d) The intra-city "all to yourself" taxis: If you want to go solo and need door to door service, taxis are your answer. One can be hailed from anywhere but calls for good negotiation skills because these come at a high price. e) The inter-city “bush” taxis: These share taxis operate between the cities and states and are fast, potentially unsafe (the first bush taxi I took on my first independent travel had brake failure!) albeit convenient means of traveling across the country! f) The "Omnipresent" Autorickshaw: Named after the manufacturers, "Marwas", are seen in few cities including Lagos but not in all areas. I even saw some Bajaj autos with passengers sitting on both sides of the driver! A common sight on the roadsides in Lagos is an okada driver diligently cleaning his okada. However rarely seen are bus drivers doing the same. In a conversation with my former landlord about the crazy traffic situation in Lagos, I learnt something about the transport system, which explained this phenomenon. The bikes-"okadas" however, work on a "hire and purchase" system. As soon as the drivers of the okada earn and pay back the cost [with interest] of the okadas to the owners, the bikes are theirs. The result: badly maintained, strained danfos versus proudly owned, well-kept okadas! The ownership and the lack of it provides the incentive or disincentive to keep it in a good shape. That's the power of incentives! For someone like me who is used to driving around in a car, using public transport on a daily basis has been quite fascinated with all the enlightening conversations, sermons on wheels, many turning heads, and all the time for my mind to wander....!


Writer’s Note.: This article is based on my experiences in the past three months in the cities of Abuja, Lagos, Jos and Kafanchan! There is still a huge country left to explore! Manali Shah is the Programme and Resource Development Manager, Center for Public Policy Research, currently serving as an international volunteer, assigned to work as an Organization Development Advisor with an organization called Give (Greater Involvement in Volunteering Efforts) in Lagos, Nigeria

I browsed through Mindtext....liked Aniesh's piece a lot. - Manjunath The Hindu


I t w a s a g o o d e d i t o r i a l . Pr e c i s e a n d t o t h e p o i n t . I loved this edition of mindtext. Really interesting articles. They dealt with current issues and were reflective. The ones by the members of the board were really informative. All the articles make one think and I think that is really important. - Debika Roy Chaudhary (Student, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University)


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