Thursday, December 20, 2007

With malice towards none except ones own

Read this brilliant piece on Kerala by Vinod today. No, I am not going to expound on Kerala politics....but I am going to write about something else that I wanted to write about long time ago.

When one of my Uncles retired from work in the Middle East, he headed for Kerala to set up a business. When he approached the necessary government offices for permissions, a kindly clerk asked him why he wanted to waste his money and whatever youth he had left by investing in Kerala! My uncle was taken aback. He persisted, but very soon gave up the idea when a bunch of ruling trade unions goons landed up at his house to lay down rules for his new industry. It didn’t take my uncle long to realize what he was up against and he set up his unit in Karnataka, where he got a lot of help and encouragement from the government. Today he employs over 200 people, and is a successful businessman.

This seems to be story with many business men. But the story isn’t so simple as it seems.. There was more to it. My uncle like many people before him set up his unit and employed many people from Kerala. Especially people from his village who came to him asking for employment. Soon these people started an internal rebellion against my Uncle and nearly destroyed his business. Quick sacking of all Malayalees and a policy never to employ a Malayalee, saw an untroubled growth of his business. My Uncle is not the only one. Most Malayalee business people except those in the Gold business; will never hire a Malayalee from Kerala. The reason is simple. The anti mudhalali feeling, so intrinsic to the Malayalee, is very deep rooted and a Malayalee employer is treated like just another Malayalee employer in Kerala. With arm twisting and show of muscle. Sometimes such people can be really dangerous as they gang up with Malayalee workers from other factories. But for the fact that they are still a minority here has thwarted many an attempt by Malayalee workers working for Malayalee businessmen from doing serious damage to the business.

When my Dad set up his unit in Bangalore, he was wise enough to see that there were no Malayalees in his factory. A wise move indeed as two attempts to employ people from his village backfired with serious repercussions like a busted generator and once a setting up of a fire to one of his units. And all because the Malayalee employee was berated by the unit Manager for coming late to work.

Today, no Kerala business man will hire a Malayalee and even if he does, a strict watch is kept over him. The Malayalee, however is a very sincere and hard working worker if he is employed elsewhere and there is a demand for Malayalees due to their dedication to work and their job.

I didn’t want to end the year with a post like this, but another incident of a colleagues husband, SS who took up premature retirement to set up a business, that almost collapsed due to his Malayalee workers ganging up against him, and introducing Viruses in his computers made me write this post. It will take almost a month for this gentleman to clean his systems and restore normalcy to his small printing unit. His fault? He asked two of his computer operators to come on time to work. They in turn incited the rest of the Malayalee workers and the rest is history. SS has learnt his lesson, like countless other people before him. He will never employ a fellow Malayalee again.

I wonder why we resent our own so much.


I am off to Kerala tomorrow and really looking forward to getting away from cold and damp Bangalore. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and the best life has to offer in the New Year 2008. Leaving you with a Christmas anecdote to put a smile on your face :)

10 comments:

Rockus said...

Sad but true...a really sorry state of affairs...

Merry X'man anyway! :)

ദീപു : sandeep said...

The movie Varavelpu came to mind.

Deepti said...

Its so sad that even when our people are ready to do even menial jobs in the gulf .. they are not ready to work for their own people without creating problems. I also thought about the movie varavelpu when I read your post.
Hey Merry Christmas and very happy new year to you :)

| Balu | said...

lol we need to implement liberalization in minds as well i guess

silverine said...

Rockus; Sorry "State" indeed. Merry Xmas to you too :)

Sandeep: I have seen the movie :) Quite frustrating to watch!

deepti: True! There is money to be made at all levels in Kerala. Here in Blr, we have contractors with huge man power pools from Kerala. These are outsourced as per requirement to various projects. And changing a contractor or freelancing is dealt with very severely. I sometimes wonder why they go through all this when they can be employed with dignity back home for the same or better money!! But then someone wise told me that enforced rules works best of Kerala workers :(

Babu: Absolutely! :)

Anonymous said...

"Why are we resentful of our own!" That just about sums about the Keraliya mentality.

Merry Christmas dear and a wonderful New Year too.

RAP

mathew said...

There are three movies which come to my mind while reading this post..one is varavelppu , lal salaam and the other is more recent arabikatha...

labour unrest started back home when employees were truly exploited by employers..so in some sense the initial protests/hullabbo were legitimate in some sense..but over a period people started using the idea ofemployees rights to the other extreme where anyone mudhalali was equated as the bad guy..

employee rights is one thing and arrogant employee pride is another..thats where the bad blood comes from..

but i believe attitudes are changing these days..there arent anymore real communists..there are just capitalists in communist clothes..each one for himself..

MC said...

you know..i always thought that our generation will be able to change kerala..but as i get into the thick of things, its obvious that the youth of kerala dont think differently..the only ones that escape are the ones that go out of the state and refresh their mentality with the exposure they get. that said, the only positive thing is that the number of students going outside kerala is increasing..the sad thing is that they dont want to EVER come back.

CarbonMonoxide said...

I hate to admit it , but we do have a problem. It has not shown up in the IT industry here yet, because the government still has some people who identified IT as the next best thing after the Gulf job waves , and they took care of the laws governing Technopark - No Trade union shit inside technopark. Some imbeciles tried to make a ruckus , but they failed to gain any kind of support. I do hope that the youth of today ( includes me ) realize this .

Alex said...

Still remember a question from the late Rajiv Gandhi in one of the meetings in Cochin.

He had just finished a visit to UAE. The emir took him to the roof of the palace at night and showed the vast skyline of the emirates and GRATEFULLY told him that most of those buildings were built by guys from "your southern state of Kerala."

So on his return Rajiv Gandhi thanked Malayalees for making him proud before foreigners. Pat came the next question,"You guys do wonders abroad. Why not here?"