Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Monkey and an Emerging Hard on.

After 34 months, in Sep 2012, to be precise, the Monkey landed up of all places, at the same venue in the same hick town, which was now suffering enhanced delusions of being a Metro.

The Monkey fell silent on seeing the Welcome sign scream “Emerging Kerala” followed by a tag “Global Connect”.The expression “Mixed Feelings” would definitely be an understatement.
Sheer shock value can at times enforce pregnant silence; like if you go through an arranged marriage and in those first, private, intimate and precious moments, find out your partner is a shemale...You might not be able to get your mind or hands around it...At least till the shock wears off... After which you do what you have to do... later justify and/or feel answerable for your actions for the rest of your life.
The Monkey’s flashback included visions offered by the magic of mushrooms, high speed travel, gut wrenching bouts of throwing up caused both by spurious hooch and a boat ride with strangers. The original point of departure from reality then had been a formal setting to woo investors into the State. The voice of Bruce Willis asking himself “How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” forced its way into The Monkey. Memories Die Hard.
Like all pregnancies the silence had to end. At first the Monkey sighed. For the last 34 months he had been through back breaking routine to make ends meet. He had paid his bills, taxes, rent and somehow managed to prolong his existence. Staring at the Welcome sign once again he did what any self respecting monkey would do. He burst out laughing!! Dear Investors he muttered. This is the ROI you have been waiting for- Return of Ineptitude. He walked straight into the watering hole. Forget the backache it is time to invoke Bacchus.
Some follow the beaten Path, some the Golden Path but the Monkey followed the Shining Path and in FEB 2013 the Monkey hit up on a belated resolution for the new year. Listen, don’t talk. Contemplate on what you know and understand. Figure out some solution if possible. Whenever possible get totally plastered by night. Get back to bed and stay there for a day. In short splurge in silence. The Monkey smiled. Let the Games begin.
In a recent read of the book "India's Tryst with Destiny: Debunking Myths that Undermine Progress and Addressing New Challenges", Jagdish Bhagwati, professor of economics at Columbia University co-authored with Arvind Panagariya, a professor of Indian economics at Columbia University argue that growth can reduce poverty and that slow economic growth will hurt social development.
In popular discourse, Kerala is the ultimate Exhibit A in human development indicators, and this is said to be the result of state spending on social sectors like education and health. Bhagwati and Panagariya junk this myth. Neither is Kerala’s social performance state-led, nor is it lacking in entrepreneurial spirit; what it had at the dawn of independence was a higher educational and health base.
“Contrary to common claims, Kerala has been a rapidly growing state in the post-independence era, which is the reason it ranks fourth among the larger states, according to per-capita gross state domestic product and first according to per capita expenditure.” The stats clearly show that it isn’t the government spending that is developing Kerala, but private spending.
The co-authors, in fact, assert that Kerala “suffers from the highest level of inequality among the larger states. So growth, and not redistribution, largely explains low levels of poverty.” Poverty is falling not because of the state, but because private individuals – no doubt fed by remittances from the diaspora – are spending big on investment in education and health. “In education”, say the authors, “at 53 percent, rural Kerala has by far the highest proportion of students between ages 7 and 16 in private schools. The nearest rival, rural Haryana, has 40 percent of these students in private schools.”

Bhagwati and Panagariya also debunk the belief that Kerala, God’s own country, lacks in entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, the earliest Arab traders had closer links to Kerala than elsewhere. They point out that Kerala, even now, has more of its citizens – one in three households – living abroad.
The short point: “They (Kerala) have had a long history of commercialisation and globalisation via trade and that the resulting prosperity is a key explanation of the high social indicators they inherited at independence.”

Bhagwati and Panagariya also claim that growth can come from the globalisation – which could be through trade, entrepreneurship, migration, or foreign investment, and the actual route taken depends on the specific circumstances of a state.

The larger point they seek to make is this: that most of what we assume to be the result of state intervention in social progress is less the result of policy and more the result of growth.

Enough of the Authors and the Book. The Monkey needed to contemplate. Back to the Shrine of Bacchus. How is truth different in a coffee table book and a Graffitti? Kerala got its high grades in Human Developments Indexes primarily through sacrifices made by generations. Every one aspired and worked towards the better life for their off springs. That is how we got here.

Through the mist of Alcoholic haze some heart warming story that appeared in a Newspaper dripped into the Monkey’s Brain.
“George and his team are busy finding them angel investors, mentors and all other supporting paraphernalia required to start an enterprise. “We got our first cheque (at MobMe) of Rs 80 lakh when we were still in college from an NRI, our angel investor. He later told us: ‘I didn’t understand a word of what you said, but I saw my youth in your guys and wanted you to do well,” George says, his eyes shining, as he embarks on a challenging journey to clone his own success.”
The Monkey felt the goose pimples at the thought of Angel Investors in God’s own Country!
Later as the Monkey was getting rid of the soda at the Gents, he overheard what clearly was an exchange between two high ranking Government Babu’s. They were discussing the dire need to erect a new system of Governance that would speed up the trickledown effect through the economic pyramid. They felt infusion of Professionalism, design and funding for the model for erection, initially temporary, should go a long way in developing a Prototype that will solve all governance issues.
The Monkey remembered his belated resolution for the New Year. Listen, don’t talk.
But think he did!
The Monkey smiled and said this to himself: Relax, these Babu’s are the next stage of evolution just above the cauliflower.
Nothing will ever come out of this senior level brainstorming in the loo.
Remember, the World’s oldest Profession started by demolishing temporary Erections!!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monkey on Mushrooms.

The year was 2003. The atmosphere was throbbing with anticipation. This was like a dream! A much awaited wedding which most thought would never happen. As they walked into the large luxurious room, rubbing a shoulder here, a small pat there, wetting their lips to hide their nervousness, their eyes reflecting the immensity of the occasion. What would happen next? Will the mental picturisation match real performance? Would the expectations be fulfilled? It is going to be a hard and long journey together. Will the bounce and wild screaming last long?

At that moment, out in the lawns of the venue of Global Investors Meet, the monkey ate the Mushrooms.

It is not an easy trip by any standards. Mushrooms could be Magic. As the promises of money in the form of Investments were heard the monkey and its mind took off.

First it chose the Rs 7,000-crore, 515-km express highway linking Thiruvananthapuram in the south with Kasaragod in the north. It zoomed across the state only to be slowed down by the finishing touches the 100-metre wide expressway had for accommodating a bullet train service, a power highway and a gas grid, apart from having in-built canal and cable ducts.

By the time it got back to the venue Memorandums of understanding (MoUs) worth over Rs 7,000 crore were signed at GIM (Global Investor Meet). The shrooms were really performing. The monkey met every investor congragulated him/her. He went overboard in his praise at the Royalty present, till he recognized the doorman who was his tenant of a single room dwelling.

In a spell of momentary lapse of reason the monkey befriended an exhilarated group who were neither global nor investors and went along for a boat ride in the seas of the hick town pretending to be a city. All matrices of development, investments and sexual exploits were thoroughly analyzed. The prime income generator of the state poured till the cup and some guts spilled over.

When the night cooled down the monkey lying on the floor of the boat, mistaken by others for a heap of soiled linen, tripped on The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda. In it these few lines meant more to the monkey now than it ever did. It said: The real secret of the mixture lies in the mushrooms” he said. They are the most difficult Ingredient to collect. The trip to the place where they grow is long and dangerous, and to select the right variety is even more perilous. There are other kinds of mushrooms growing alongside which are of no use; they would spoil the good ones if they are dried together. It takes time to know the mushrooms well in order not to make a mistake. Serious harm will result in using the wrong kind.

The Monkey now with the Global vision replaced the word mushrooms with Investors.
And he found his Moment of understanding.

Just as the Magic of mushrooms, the feeling ( which many years later another big cock up would call “Irrational Exuberance”) vanished. The Monkey bought another Calendar in 2004 and got on with his life.
Later that year the monkey learned after the much-publicised Global Investor Meet (GIM) aimed at showcasing Kerala as an investment destination, some existing industries are planning to exit the state.

Ironically, after the GIM, there has been little progress in the growth of industry. While 890 companies were registered between January 20, 2003, a day after the GIM and January 15, 2004, the average capital that came in through these companies was just Rs 15.07 lakh with an authorised capital of Rs 134.13 crore, according to statistics available with the Registrar of Companies.

The Monkey remembered the wise assessment of a writer at that time. “In reality, GIM or no GIM, Kerala is unlikely to be visited by the conventional angel of industrial development. Far better not to chase that dream, and let lesser flowers like lowly services bloom.”

The next five years went by. The Monkey voted ,copulated, drank, smoked, and in spare time tried to earn some sort of living.

Then he bought the 2009 calendar. A few months later he came across in the same hick town still pretending to be a bigger city hosting a world Investors meet. He was tempted to have another magic journey. But he just could not cope with disappointments on a large scale. Moreover he had taken to contributing to Beverages Corporation and thereby the State coffers in a big way.

A day after the meet he bought a Newspaper and sat down on the beach watching the House boats go by. A news item caught his eye. He sat there spellbound. It said: The recently concluded ‘Focus Kerala – World Investors Meet’ has been able to garner a possible investment of Rs 3,978.15 crore for the State from the two-day event……A total of 26 projects in various sectors have been planned. MoUs for 16 projects have been signed during the meet and 10 more will be signed soon. He sighed, stood up, ready to go get his sundowner.

Just then two young pretty things were approaching him. One of them bright and eager and the other one clearly challenged. He was watching this glorious sight when from nowhere a Caucasian with a Manual Camera and a huge lens jumped in between and started framing some perfect pictures.

The challenged one was scared. The pretty thing consoled her “he is only trying to FOCUS sweetie!!

What?? The both of us ?? asked the human mushroom.

The Monkey smiled. Not both of you dearies! He thought.
3.5 crores of us.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Inaugral Post:

A Psychiatrist's Delight.

Name: Shri. Malayali Monkey

Spouse: Smt. Malayali Manga

Children: Two Only

Educational Qualification: Post Graduate, No Qualification.

Presently Employed: Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No.

Do you Smoke? - Now and then.

What do you mean? - First Now after some time then!

Do you Drink Alcohol? - Occassionally.

Explain Occassionally? About 6 days in a week.

How much do you drink a day? About 6 drinks.

What do you Drink? - Rum - 3 -90ml, 2 - 60ml and 1-30ml.

Do you have extra marital sex?
Try weakly but no extra.

What are your political leanings?
No I am straight, but once I lean left and next time I lean right!

Are you sure you didn't mix up the last two questions?

Since this blog is about the mindset of people like yourself and how it is flushing this state down the loo, I have to do a SWOT analysis, Will you please answer the following questions briefly?
What do you consider is the great strength of people like yourself, that can contribute to the development of the State?

People like me are very strong and rare. From school itself we have been organising against powerful people who rule us. We like all of us to be rich and well off but society will not allow it. Distribution of wealth is more important than creation of it! The rich are robbing from the poor who have no money!

Come Again?
I have already come, why should I come again?

Forget it! So what exactly is your strength here?
We can organise people who have nothing so that we can we can make sure the rich people don't take away anything from them!!

Ok Dokeey! Next question - What do you think your weaknesses are?
We have no weakness! But the Imperialists.the capitalists and the not so red are trying to create weakness amongst us. But we are so strong that we can overcome their malicious efforts. There might be some weakness among us like money,drink,sex and a thirst for the good life. But that is only Human!!

Understandable! Next question - What do you think are the opportunities in the state with people like you?
The biggest opportunities in the state are offered by the millions of educated people like me who can organise people and workers into a mighty force. It is only when you depend on the english speaking,computer literate upper class you miss opportunities.We are all products of a universal education programme and we should insist only those Investors who are willing to employ our youth educated through SSLC syllabus and Government run colleges in Malayalam medium need to come here. Then we would be able to fight Globalisation, Privatisation and Corporate hegemony by creating more opportunities within our state.

You mean you want the State to address the people at the bottom of the pyramid?

No! At the bottom of the pyramid there are only dead people, Pharoes I think?

You do get to the root of the issue very easily don't you? Next question - What do you think are the threats to our State?

The threat is everywhere. Global Trade, Disinvestment,High prices,Education reform and the wasteful ID Card project. This government is destroying the Kerala Model. The threat comes from both the Center and the State Governments. If they want accountability,performance, transparency in public sevice they are trying to mimic the corporate ethics. Democracy is not about that! The true democracy should be the Corpoate sector trying to mimic the Government.

You know, when your wife asked me to grant you an appointment, I thought a routine consult and a cake walk. To be honest with you let me confess I have never met another person who looks at life through the wrong hole in the body! I pray the readers of this blog retrofit their vision to yours! Thanks a lot, we'll meet again often! And in parting let me say you have set the bar very high!!

Thank you Sir, We must meet there sometime. The Bar is not so high, Just two steps from the Main Road.