The dreams of Mr.Murali to start business in his own Kerala, who had toiled his whole life under the scorching sun of Arabian desert, had got crushed under the iron boots of a petty trade union leader, when he started a small-scale bus service in the remote village of Kerala. By sitting in the darkness of the theaters, we all might have laughed at the sad plight of Mr.Murali and by keeping the same smirk on the corner of our lips, we pretended sympathy on his fate and finally got relieved when he packed his bag to go back to the prickly heats of same Arabia which had gifted him everything. The above is the storyline of the Mohanlal starrer blockbuster movie of 1989, ‘Varavelpu’ depicting the true side of the business environment of Kerala, directed by renowned movie maker Mr. Satyan Anthikad, when I was carrying my school bags on my shoulders and walking my way to attend my 4th standard classes.
During my graduation days, I had regularly cycled through the gullies and ruins of Alapuzha (aka Alleppy), once called by the world as ‘Venice of the East” for its fabulous business , beautiful canals and thriving opportunities. The said small city, once the best city in South India, is now a tomb of the good old memories with remains of closed coir factories, dirty canals, narrow roads, deadly streets and bleakly business, a big thanks to the heightened scale of trade unionism and political extravaganza.
Years passed by and I grew up through and along with the political road map of Kerala, and when I decided to start my own practice, I got heavily discouraged by my well-wishers who warned me about the “no business" state of the State of Kerala. Being compassionately discouraged, I joined in a company in the year 2003 and started my career but to resign from it in 2006 after going through an e-tender document published by the Government of Kerala for establishing a mother port at Vizhinjam, Thiruvananthapuram and started own practice as a Company Secretary. We are now in 2021 and even after the span of 16 long years the Vizhinjam, a port with huge potential, still remain as a distant dream.
During these years, I had silently witnessed the migration of our countrymen to Gulf region for winning their bread, experienced the fluffiness of the economy created with the money sent in by the expats but still travelled through narrow highways and sadly glimpsed the plight of public institutions and public health sector. I got nightmares on reading about the death by suicide of Lee See Been, a Malaysian national in Kuala Lumpur, chief project manager of PATI-BEL, an Indo-Malaysian joint venture which had undertaken a part of the World Bank-funded Rs 1,600 crore-Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP) to upgrade and maintain 1,600 km of highways in the state! I got abashed with shame, when the head of the State is challenging the winner of the bid of the Airport, and threatening them of consequences of taking over the Airport against his political iron heart.
We had dejectedly adopted , by ignoring the geological advantage and tourism potential of the State, an unplanned business ecosystem which is unsuitable for our tourism friendly environment. By sitting on the comforts created using private capital, we stamped the business men as bourgeois and belittled them at every chance we got. We had offered bid adieu to many business conglomerates to satisfy our political ego and bureaucratic will. At the same time, I had witnessed many incidents of extreme political flexibility and untoward bureaucratic favouritism, towards a few, due to reasons known to all.
When the KITEX, for whatever reasons, is moving to Telangana to create 4000 new employment opportunities , the same old Murali , who is now in his 70’s is still working hard alone, aloof and away from his family and friends, with a distant dream to come back to God’s Own Country. When he can come back to this heavenly pyres of many businessmen, even in his wild dreams! From the depth of my mind, I pay silent homage to plight of Mr. Murali , the mighty soul of Mr. Lee See Been and the fate of generations yet to come.
Bijoy P Pulipra