Clean water in Tamil Nadu

If you have lived in Chennai, you know the problems with water supply. Due to scarcity in supply, people are forced to buy water from private tanker suppliers who just pump water from some river, lake, or some place you don’t want to know. This water is not treated and is directly sold to the consumer. So long as they do not see any corpses, body parts or dead insects people are happy. In other places people are getting water from borewells and it has its own issues.

Residents of the Tamil Nadu Housing Board Colony, Korattur, have tried to boil the water for drinking. Says G. Janaki, “I boiled the water and allow the sediments to settle at the bottom so that it can be used for cooking. But, it has a metallic taste and an oily substance floats on surface. Vegetables cooked in the water turn dark and unappetizing.”[ It’s no cola, it’s the water supplied in Korattur]

Since everyone is busy trying to establish that Coke has pesticides, impurities in water which is used by all Indians is of no importance. Water is not a good cause to fight for since you cannot shutdown multinationals, shout anti-imperialist slogans and destroy public property. But atleast one town has found an alternative

Factories and homes in one Tamil Nadu town have clean, reliable water supplies for the first time thanks a new private sector plant, but while industrialists are happy, consumer groups are worried.
State-backed, but majority owned by private firms and investors, the water treatment and delivery plant in Tirupur is the first of its kind in a country where almost half the urban population and 87 percent of rural dwellers live without running water.
The plant is operated by Mahindra Water Utilities, a 50-50 joint venture of Mahindra Infrastructure Developers and Britain’s United Utilities. It pumps treated supplies 53 kilometres from the Bhavani river to the nation’s T-shirt capital, Tirupur, source of most Indian knitwear exports.
Before the 10.25-billion-rupees project was completed two months ago, private tanker trucks provided the water, untreated, straight from the river or from wells.[Pioneer private water provider makes waves in India via Globalization Institute]

Since it benefits people, the Left has included it in the issues for it’s national strike.

The protestors will also raise the issues of privatisation of water and power.[Nationwide strike by Left unions tomorrow]

Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your health.

Banking using cell phones

One person who is unhappy with everything in the world in Arudhathi Roy. Her anti-American, anti-capitalism articles have a wide following among the people who believe that there is an alternate way. After criticizing every living thing in the world, she turned her attention to non-living things and the object of her wrath was the cell-phone.

“Are you going to starve to death dreaming of a mobile phone or you going to have control of the resources that are available to you and have been for generations, but have been taken away so that someone else can have a mobile phone?”[India’s dying ‘n we flaunt mobiles: Arundhati Roy]

And Gaurav Sabnis responded with the question WTF??. Arundhathi can say all she wants, but the reality is even poor people are adopting cell phones in India because they find immense use for it.
Sure, there must be a big adrenalin rush while criticizing anything used by the not-poor people as there is an audience for it and also it is a lucrative field. But isn’t she a thinker, something above the whine-bloggers? So while criticizing something, one would expect some creative suggestions from a person like her who travels around the world and reads a lot. It she really wanted to help the poor, she would have said, asking people to go back to stone age looks stupid. So let’s see how we can use the forces of globalization and technology to improve the condition of the poor. For example, there is something we can learn from the Africans, who are using the cell phones for banking.

With the new technology, a grandmother in rural area can receive money from her son, working hundreds of miles away, with the beep of her cellphone. A teenager can buy groceries with a few punches of keys. Not a coin need change hands.
It’s a high-tech solution designed to help poor people here who never have had access to banks, cash machines, or credit cards. And it’s another example of using digital technology to fast forward development in remote areas.[Africa’s cellphone boom creates a base for low-cost banking via engadget]

I have never heard any progressive suggestions from people like her. Politicians need a constituency of poor people, so do the advocates of the alternate universe.

Two faces of Communism

In India

India on Tuesday abandoned plans to sell stakes in state-run companies to strategic investors, bowing to opposition from leftist allies who fear massive job losses and dealing a blow to reforms. The slow pace of reforms has raised concerns about the future of foreign investment in India, which is already trailing China.
The communist-backed government called off plans to sell its stake in 13 firms, including aluminium maker NALCO, oil refiner HPCL, Engineers India Ltd., Shipping Corporation of India, National Fertilisers Ltd. and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertiliser.

In China (via Globalization Institute)

China on Wednesday freed more than 1,300 largely state-owned companies to gradually sell shares of stock now controlled by the Communist Party government, putting nearly $270 billion worth of state assets on the trading block. This unprecedented wave of privatization is aimed at lifting domestic stock markets and furthering the country’s transition toward capitalism.

Modernization catches up with Malayalees

Shashi Tharoor has two part article on Kerala which lists all the virtues of Malayalees and we get to see what a brilliant man he is in the following paragraph

Keralites never suffered from inhibitions about travel: so many Keralite typists flocked to stenographic work in Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi that “Remington” was thought to be the name of a Malayali sub-caste. In the nation’s capital, the wags said that you couldn’t throw a stone in the Central Secretariat without injuring a Keralite bureaucrat. Nor was there, in the Kerala tradition, any prohibition on venturing abroad, none of the ritual defilement associated in parts of North India with “crossing the black water”. It was no accident that Keralites were the first, and the most, to take advantage of the oil-fuelled employment boom in the Arab Gulf countries; at one point in the 1980s, the largest single ethnic group in the Gulf sheikhdom of Bahrain was reported to be not Bahrainis but Keralites.[Questing spirit]

He glosses over the fact that militant Communism prevented the growth of any industry and people had no other option, but go abroad to make a living. Tharoor makes it sound as if Malayalees were doing a favour to the nations of the Middle East. Since Communists resisted globalization in Kerala, Malayalees had to rely on the globalization of labor to find work in Arab countries and live like slaves.
Now modernization and competition in Qatar has caught these immigrants by surprise and many Malayalees are expected to be jobless.

The community suffered a massive setback more than two years ago when the mushrooming hypermarkets threatened the smaller provision stores by waging a fierce price war. Community sources estimate that out of about 125,000 commercial registrations (CRs), some 25 per cent of them may be small grocery stores run by Kerala Muslims.
Known in the local parlance as ‘baqalas’, the small-time owners of these outlets ran for help to community leaders. A committee was set up to study the problem and suggest ways to tackle it. One of the proposals made was that ‘baqalas’ form consortia, meaning that some 10 to 15 of them from one broader locality come together and make purchases of saleable goods collectively, so that they could buy and sell things cheaper to survive the price war. But the proposal never worked as it proved to be impractical and difficult to implement. The result was that many of these ‘baqalas’ continue to exist, albeit with difficulty, as jobs and profits have nearly halved.
According to him, considering the trend in Qatar that points to small businesses being replaced by bigger ones, community elders have long been warning those in catering an grocery trade to use foresight and diversify into other areas in vain.[Muslims from northern Kerala worried about future in Qatar]

If this were Kerala, there would be people shouting Inquilab in front of the hypermarts, but since Arab countries are big on human rights, the only thing you can do is swallow the bitter pill. You can run all you want from globalization and modernization, but you cannot hide.
Update: I Prefer That You Kiss My…

Confused economics

Tom Friedman has this theory in his book Lexus and Olive Tree that two countries which have McDonalds will not go to war with each other, the idea being that in a globalized economy countries are interdependent and cannot sacrifice prosperity over war. But you try to apply this to Pakistan and you get confused on the direction they want to move.
Yesterday there was news of Pakistan deciding to import sugar from India due to economic pressure. Even as recent as last week, there was a ban on import of sugar from India as it would hurt sugarcane growers and mills. Low rainfall caused the sugar prices to rise and imports from UAE and Thailand were not able to meet the demand. Now it is expected that Pakistan will buy three to four lakh tonnes of sugar from India.
But then all is not so sweet regarding trade between the two countries. In the same breath Pakistan announced that films made or developed in India is in list of banned items even though there is an economic need for importing movies.

According to the Import Policy Order 2005, the banned items include any “cinematograph film wholly or partly exposed or developed in any Pakistani or Indian language, with or without a sound track and depicting Pakistani or Indian way of living either silent or dubbed, or in which leading roles have been played by Pakistani or Indian actors or actresses”.[Pakistan bans import of films made in India]

This means Pakistanis will have to rely on movie pirates to see Meera kissing Ashmit Patel in Nazar. This is so sad since the movie was made by Mahesh Bhatt, a Pakistani lover and Bollywood apologist.
Now both the countries have Prime Ministers who are economists who understand the value of trade. But the wall of hatred erected by Pakistan is so strong that even free market forces are unable to pierce it.

  1. The list of banned items also include a whole range of military weapons, which means the Pakistani Army can no longer buy machine guns, sub-machine guns and automatic rifles from India to kill Indians.
  2. Siddharth Varadarajan notes that US bombed Yugoslavia and India and Pakistan went to war over Kargil, even though they all had McDonalds.

Malayalees in slavery

Thanks to globalization of labor, many Malayalees work in the Islamic countries in the Middle East. Yale Global has an article on these people, who are the “invisible foot soldiers of globalization”

Blue-collar Indian workers in the UAE, including Dubai, amount to an exploited underclass with no rights, no unions, and no stake in country’s burgeoning wealth, say human rights groups. In neighboring Saudi Arabia, a recent Human Rights Watch report says many of the country’s more than one million Indian migrants live in “conditions resembling slavery.” The document highlights the widespread practice of forced, around-the-clock confinement of Indian maids, often in unsafe conditions. And a US State Department report on worldwide human trafficking faults the UAE and other Gulf states for commonplace labor abuses like withholding pay and passports.
Employers usually confiscate passports and residence permits when workers arrive at Dubai International Airport, making it virtually impossible for laborers to seek better jobs or quit and go home. Migrants typically cannot obtain exit visas without the approval of their sponsor or employer. The story of these faceless men and women, who live in labor camps and seedy apartments, is gaining attention in the usually self-censored UAE press, which now regularly reports on worker protests over delayed pay and substandard living conditions. [Dubai’s Kerala Connection]

Malayalees may be able to live without passports, but without unions and the rights to raise slogans, we are like President Bush on a bicycle. It is sad that Malayalees who raise slogans even in front of corpses, have to live like slaves away from their families.
Related Links: Globalization of ideas, Hinduism in Saudi Arabia

Globalization of ideas

When we Mallus are unhappy, we protest. Our only goal then is to make life unpleasant for others since we believe in a law called Equality of Suffering. First we call a bandh, and if bandhs are banned, we call a hartal. If all this is not possible, we take out street processions and block as much traffic as possible.
Recently a garment company closed down and many Malayalees lost their jobs. Immediately they took to the streets. In Kerala this would have been front page news with all other hartals and processions, but this happened in Baharin and UAE and quick came the consequences.

The Recruiting Agents Association of Kerala asked Keralites working in the Gulf to behave. “Strikes may be common here but not in the Gulf. We should see that we do not overreact and create problems for all Keralites,” said B. Vivek, the association’s president. “This is a dangerous trend. Now that 15 companies have decided not to recruit people from Kerala, one shouldn’t be surprised if more companies resort to similar measures,” he said.[Keralites in Gulf asked to behave]

Kerala is one of the most globalized states in India. Due to globalization of ideas we got Communism, which prevented anyone from getting employment. But thanks to globalization of labor, Malayalees were able to move to Islamic countries and improve their standard of living. But now it is high time that Malayalees globalized some bandh culture to these Arab countries so that we can cut the branch of the tree we are sitting on.

The Cuban James Bond

Many people have commented on this blog’s anti-Communist stance. For example, when we pointed out that the Communists are a bunch of rich anti-national hypocrites, there were comments that all that was true, but our attitude was wrong. But now I am grateful to some Communists for bringing to life something I had seen only in James Bond movies.
I think the film was Spy Who Loved Me, where Roger Moore and his girlfriend are in a car and is chased by a helicopter which is showering bullets all around the neighbourhood, except the car. They drive thorugh a boardwalk on the beach and the car falls into the ocean. The girlfriend is terrified, but Bond flicks a few switches and the car turns into a submarine.
Recently some people from the Communist paradise Cuba have resorted to similar, but low cost technique to get to the capitalist paradise United States.

Four of the 14 Cubans intercepted at sea aboard a vintage taxi converted into a boat will be allowed to stay in the United States because they have valid immigration documents, but the others will be sent back to Cuba, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Family members said Diaz was making his third attempt to reach the United States aboard a car converted into a boat.
In 2004, they said he was intercepted on a Buick sedan powering a barge and a decade earlier had to turn back because of electrical problems in a 1947 Buick.
Details about how the latest car-boat operated were not known. It was outfitted with a prow on the front that allowed it to cut through waves. Previous car-boats from Cuba have been powered by a propeller attached to the drive shaft.
Under U.S. policy, the car-boats are sunk at sea after being intercepted.[Four ‘taxi-boat’ Cubans get to stay in U.S.]

Diaz is now waiting for an offer letter from the “Q” branch of MI6

The High Court verdict on Coke

Recently the Kerala High Court told the Coke authorities that they can consider the plant in Kerala open even if the local panchayat does not renew the licence. Many people suggested that the courts have gone anti-people because they did not issue the order they wanted to hear. But then why did the Court issue such an order ?

The court allowed the plant to reopen after an expert committee concluded that drawing 500,000 liters of groundwater (5% of the available water in the area) a day would not cause drought as claimed by protesters. According to the company management, the plant was drawing 460,000 liters of water a day at the time of its closure and water supplies continued to decline even after the facility was shut down a year ago.It said the panchayat made its decision without the benefit of any scientific review of the plant’s actual impact on the local aquifer.
The court also said the panchayat was not authorised nor did it have the expertise to consider allegations that the wastewater sludge from the plant were contaminating the land, or that company’s products in India contained pesticide residues.The judge ruled that any private person or company has the right to extract groundwater within reasonable limits. According to the company, the maximum groundwater usage at the Kerala plant has not exceeded 460,000 liters per day.[Court allows Coke to reopen Kerala plant]

If there is proper evidence that the plant is causing harm to people, it should be shutdown legally. But here people in their zeal for fighting anything American and anything that can generate employment are using emotional arguments. These don’t fly in a court of law.
Update: Guess who is going to benefit from this judgement? – The Communists, of course. They are going to start a water theme park in Parassinikadavu in Kannur district and face the same allegation as Coke.

The CPI(M) has been leading the protests against the Coca-Cola plant in Plachimada, Paalakkad, on the grounds that the soft drink company is exploiting the area

Coke plant licence renewed

When panchayats start playing political games, the High Court has to step in. Remember the Coke plant in Kerala which was sanctioned by the Communists and then later opposed by them. The panchayat then refused to renew the licence and Coke went to court. The Court then gave permission for the plant to pump a fixed amount of water, but still the panchayat would not renew the licence since panchayats in Kerala follow the Klingon legal system. But, Kerala High Court was not amused.

In a major relief to the soft drinks major Coca Cola, the Kerala high court today directed the Perumatty panchayat, where the company