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 :)