Sunday, July 24, 2011

‘The plus and minus points of Kerala’

By Shevlin Sebastian

Photo: (From left) Gigo Joseph, CEO, Infopark, Industrialist SS Agarwal, writer K.L. Mohana Varma, and T Damu, VP-Corporate Affairs, Indian Hotels

The Wednesday Club, which helps its members to develop leadership and communication skills, held a round-table discussion recently. The topic: 'Is Kerala a happening place?'

Among the speakers was T. Damu, VP, Corporate Affairs, Indian Hotels, who said, “Kerala is a happening place, positively and negatively. When somebody does good, there are others to oppose him. This is a trait of Malayalis.” He bemoaned the fact that the infrastructure in the state is not well-developed. “It is a must if tourism has to flourish,” he said. “In terms of visitors, we are only 11th in India. The growth is mostly in the IT and technology sectors.”

Noted writer K.L Mohana Varma saw a signboard which announced a training programme on ‘Ethical Hacking’. He called the advertiser who confirmed it was ethical. “Keralites can be innovative if they want,” he said, with a smile. Mohana Varma praised the tolerant nature of Malayalis. “We are the only community in the world to invite Jews to settle down in our state,” he said. “We also elected the first Communist government anywhere in the world. And Kerala is the only place in India where Muslims have political power.” But Kerala's drawback has been that it has lacked universally accepted leaders, like in north India, which is necessary for a society to develop.

When Gigo Joseph, the CEO of Infopark, went to Bangalore to invite investment, the company heads were more interested to hear about the infrastructure and entertainment opportunities available in Kochi. “From people to people, the word, 'happening' has different meanings,” he said. “Kerala is a balanced state. There is not much of a difference between the rich and the poor, and the urban and rural areas. However, the media should focus on the positive things that are taking place in society.”

Industralist SS Agarwal spoke about the difficulties of setting up a flour mill in Kochi in the late-eighties. “In Mangalore I set up the same mill in 10 months, while in Kochi it took two-and-a-half years,” he said. “Nevertheless, Kerala is a happening place. Around 3 per cent of the population consumes 15 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).” He said that Kerala should concentrate on micro and small enterprises, as well as the service sector, since there is very little land available for industry. The meeting was presided over by club president Kurian Abraham.

(The New Indian Express, Kerala)

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