Friday, April 18, 2008

The exodus

My neighbors...people from Kottayam like us, who have been settled in Bangalore for the past 40 years, were surprised when their relations a family from Trivandrum, suddenly landed up in Bangalore after selling off all they owned in Kerala. They moved into a rented house and soon shifted to a house of their own. This is the 6th family from Trivandrum that I have heard of from friends, relatives and colleagues who have shifted out of Kerala and settled in Bangalore this month.

The shift is not as innocuous as it seems. These are people who were well settled in Trivandrum, with houses of their own. Never in their wildest dreams did they think that they would leave it all. The discontent built up slowly. And the main reason for leaving was the feeling of helplessness and loss of control over ones life in Kerala and the existence of a better choice of life in places like Chennai or Bangalore, to live in dignity!

These people gave their best years to the State, built homes in Kerala and then over a time realized that they were zilch in the scheme of things in the State. The almost daily bundhs, hartals, morchas, threats from locals politicians and miscellaneous goons that they took as part of life, seem to be absent in the other Indian metros. And most importantly, the ignominy of being held hostage by uncouth people who hold their sway in almost all aspects of public life through political patronage and muscle power. It is with heavy hearts that they left their home and hearths, happy nevertheless that they escaped and can at least in their twilight years muster up a life of dignity.

The exodus is happening…in trickles now and from what I have heard, it will become a deluge soon. I am told there are families out there, waiting patiently for their kids to finish studies so that they can move out to Bangalore, or Chennai or Hyderabad. People, who are bound to stay there due to work constraints quietly pick up properties in Bangalore and give it for rent, waiting for the day they can crossover to a life more suitable for human beings.

This post like similar posts will go down into the archives like the voices of right thinking people. But what is frightening is that no one is putting up a fight. Everyone is fleeing and I totally understand their reasons and sympathize with it too. But what is disquieting is that there is not even a small movement for change. The flight of the educated right thinking people out of Kerala, is a premonition of worse things to come. And if the people of Kerala don't get their act together, then they might as well start packing now.

p.s Please note I am not talking of people leaving the State due to work or transfers here.

Have a nice weekend everyone! I surely have earned it!!!


g-man said...

actually, the number of bandhs and hartals has come down from wat it used to be, and the sort of incidents which marred such occasions are comparatively rare these days. the goondas and the local politicians tho, that's a wholly different issue. fortunately for me, i live in a good neighborhood, but i do know people whose faces have been smashed in just because they wouldn't let a bunch of total strangers ride their newly bought motorbike. nobody thinks its worth it to put up a fight...

Thomas said...

I've to say that this is a post with my family in the limelight. Dad had built a house in B'lore and given it for rent. The property value for the house and plot has quadrapled now. So i guess he did that with a business mentality. Concerning future plans, he says he might move to B'lore after he retires coz it might be possible that he could work in R&D centres (he being a scientist). Well that's his angle of thinking. Others may move due to different reasons. But i think B'lore as a place-to-relax-after-retirement has lost its sheen. The city is just not the same as it was 10 years back, in my perspective. So moving to B'lore to lead a peaceful retired life may be a not-so-good option. Maybe most are moving out of Kerala so that the Gen-next with them will have better opportunities in hunting jobs. "Maybe".

Thomas said...

Hey, one doubt. What's the difference between poomanam and think-pad?? I mean the contents; I havn't noticed any stark difference between them.

Jiby said...

It is a sad fact that Trivandrum is a city of promise for people who know how to get things done, know the right people, foster the right connections and know how to smart-talk/sweet-talk. Hard work is only secondary. Probably these migrants are simple-minded, reserved folks who had a hard time dealing with the overwhelming bureaucracy and felt lost in society.

The loss of good people have been going on for decades, the ones who stay behind change without they themselves realizing it. People warn me saying why return to this madness, i tell them i will experience it first-hand and then decide whether to react, adapt or flee. There is a film, Vasthavam, which will give you a fairly good idea of how a new man in Trivandrum changes himself to adapt to the city.

If these migrants have bitter experiences in bangalore where will they run to?

silverine said...

g-man: I have heard of similar and worse stories :(

Thomas: Nopes! This post wouldn't apply to your family as your Dad clearly wants to move for research reasons. The people I have mentioned in this post are not moving to Bangalore to relax. They are moving in to avoid a life under siege from political parties and goons. Even with its chaotic traffic and crowd, Bangalore is a comparatively safe place where you can go about your life unhindered.
The difference between these two blogs is like between chalk and cheese. Poomanam is only humor. TP is more of first hand observations and experiences about our society, people etc. :)

Jiby: I have heard that Tvm is a city of babus and one must know them well to get work done. And this post is not about migrants, but Tvm'ites like you. And among the lacs of people who have settled here in Bangalore, not even one person will grumble about the place except perhaps about the traffic and other trivial matters. It is a joy for these people to grumble like other Indians about things inane like traffic while back in Kerala they feared for their life and limbs everyday!

Karthik said...

Well. I see no prospects for the work-force in Kerala. Even if they come to daily hunger they will still carry on with strikes and hartals. AndGulf oil may last only for another 50 years after which even Middle East countries will get back to Stone Age. How will the NRK money then flow into Kerala?

I think rather than harping on the 100% literacy factor , The Government has to do something serious to encourage investors to put their money in setting up factories and units in Kerala.

mathew said...

In many instances although in a much smaller way, i feel the marunadan malayalees are similar to the Jewish Diaspora pre-war...But unlike the Jews who were driven out by other people, it is malayalees themselves who are driving out own brethren...not in a physical sense, but the prejudices and mindsets of certain segments in the society. Allergy towards hard work...respecting time, others opinion...and such…

I agree with g-man here it is actually a paradise compared to the mid 80's...And also to note that we have historically been a migrant people which had its positive influences too... (People moving out coz of goondaism/local politicians would fall in miniscule percentage)

Violence or goondaism can happen anywhere...even in Bangalore on a larger scale if you remember when Rajkumar died...the Tamil Nadu water issue...finding rationale for such problems is interesting in the sense that the violence need not be for specific cause or rather a vent up of boiling emotions for other collective reasons. And what we see in Kerala (kannur for eg.) is instances of violence without a cause and that is the most absurd of all…

Unfortunately everyone is a zilch in the scheme of things if you don’t have the right numbers to dial in your time of need...irrespective of where you live!

Philip said...

The only people who have anything good to say about Kerala are the people who have lived outside it for many years. Even I, after 2 weeks in Chennai, start thinking of Kerala as the perfect place. Once I'm back home, though, I'm disillusioned by the state of affairs.

I have had the privilege of being beaten up by goondas in broad daylight on the street for standing up for my friend. That should have shaken my belief in Trivandrum, but surprisingly it hasn't.

I'm sure that there are families like the ones you have mentioned in every city who move due to a variety of reasons which make it impossible to live in their chosen cities. I personally know of 2 families who have left everything the have and settled in Trivandrum (from cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore; not work related).

I wholeheartedly agree that Kerala has become unsafe because of these rowdies. However, I don't think that living in Trivandrum (or any other city in Kerala) is more unsafe/difficult than living in any other city in India.

silverine said...

Karthik: You have touched upon something important....the future! And it does look like the present work force will fight till they die. But when they are all gone I hope good sense prevails.

Mathew: If things are getting better then it is a good sign. But you cannot compare what happened after Rajkumars death with what is happening in Kerala. That was a security lapse that random miscreants used to their benefit. Besides only public property were damaged. But Ktka learned a lesson with that incident and you can see the result...the Cauveri verdict and recently the Hoggenakkal issue went off without a hitch! I can walk into any govt office and get things done here in Ktka. In Kerala that is next to impossible!

Philip: There are pockets in the country where it is unsafe. But those are good 'ole Bihar and UP and such States which cannot be compared to Kerala.

bombay dosti said...

With a family staying there for several decades ,with several friends, who got themselves transfered to tvm/kochi infosys,wipro,tcs;at the first go, cant truly agree with what you have written, especially since you have made a generalised comment based on the experience of one neighbour!

Atleast, for one,all those IT expansions in Kerala to my knowledge are occupied mostly by Keralites who have chosen to be back "home".And you know its just started...

Your post would have been complete, and convincing, if you could have provided some stats/research as to the number of people who have moved out of kerala due to "fear of their lives"! And if you need links as to how crime is increasing in Bangalore, you will get that,women working in night shift rape stories in Bangalore, Pune,Mumbai; how many times have we heard that? The point is not that! Its not about Kerala vs Bangalore.

Not that Kerala, is free of all problems.We were known for our migration to other states and countries, and even today, people still do migrate, but to say that the state is that unsafe that we need to move to metros "to live in dignity" or "back in Kerala they feared for their life and limbs everyday!"??? My dear, these comments are completely unacceptable and untrue, to say the least!!

Ajaypp said...

I agree totally with g-man in that the number of disruptions in Trivandrum has radically declined in the last few years. And it is not that the rest of India is much better off. Considering that most of Bangalore was in turmoil, to put it mildly, over the death of a thespian not so long ago or that Gurgaon witnessed striking factory workers on the rampage. I would hardly call such incidents mere "lapses" of security, that's far too easy and convenient an explanation. Statistically speaking, Technopark lost less working days to political unrest and other external causes than, say, Maharastra or Haryana.

Far from being a city of goons, as it is made out to be made, Trivandrum has one of the best law and order records of major cities in India. The capitals of every county and State get an extra-heavy dose of political activism. It is the same with not just Trivandrum, Delhi, Kolkata, Beijing, Moscow and Washington D.C. The capital is the centrepoint of the political system, so it is natural that most of the action, however unfortunate it may be, will be here.

The notion that Trivandrum is a city of babus is very naive and wrong. There might be 10,000 civil servants across the plethora of offices here, but there 20,000 IT professionals and upto 100,000 industrial workers as well. Let the numbers do the talking. Even if we take an uncharitable view of the former (the "babus"), the latter surely must work as hard as anywhere else to earn their wages. As for the Govt. system, it has improved in leaps and bounds. Today, Kerala leads the rest of the country in progressive developments like administrative reforms, e-governance, the use of the RTI Act and consumer activism.

Just as someone can quote the examples of families who have "left" Trivandrum, so can as many or more examples of people moving back to Trivandrum and Kerala, not just from Bangalore but from major cities across the world. be found. I have spent quite a bit of time in all of India's metros and abroad as well, and I have shifted back to Trivandrum. So have a few of my friends, who have spent time in India and abroad. We have all realised that there is nothing better than home. And the number of people doing that is growing. In years past, the exodus from Kerala was driven by the need for better employment. But today one can work for Infosys or TCS in Bangalore and in Trivandrum. So I sense that the tide is gradually turning.

Lastly, the poor image of Kerala outside the State is spread most effectively by Keralites. After all, there is nothing like listening to it from the horse's mouth. Let's do a better job for our home state and city, shall we?

silverine said...

Bombay Dosti: "cant truly agree with what you have written"

You don't have to really! In fact you don't have to read it too. Has this blog become compulsory reading without my knowledge?! :-S

"Your post would have been complete, and convincing, if you could have provided some stats/research"

Err...I don't write posts to convince anyone. Looks like you are new here! And if a post is complete or not is entirely upto me to judge. That’s what blogs are all about…very personal views and people who have the guts to air their personal views in public are the last people to try and rattle with comments like this! :p And if you want stats based researched writing I would suggest haunting economist’s websites and not blogs.

"My dear, these comments are completely unacceptable and untrue, to say the least!!"

And why are you telling me this? Do you really think I care?

Now take your frustrations elsewhere lady, because that is what this is all about and not a comment on the post.

AjayPP: Your points are noted as well as points put forward by people stating the opposite. Hope the fleeing people chance upon your comment and take heart. After all they are the best judge of what is best for them isn't it? :)

Karthik said...

@ajaypp - I don't think all charges by marunadan malayalees on their state are unfounded. It is still not investor firendly. And it is not about IT.

What about manufacturing? Will any wise investor set up a factory in Kerala? Even Marico industry employs 85% women in the workforce to avoid the problem of unreasonable strikes.

Deepti said...

Nice post .. havent seen this happening yet in Pune though or maybe I am not aware :) ( this post has almost sparked a debate in the comments section ;) )

| Balu | said...

Gee.. I am one of those people who is happy to not be in Kerala (and will never be either)
The politicians have ruined it all

Machiavelli said...

In journalism circles there is a class of peopel who are known as the 'Letters to the Editor' class..this class more or less overlaps with what is generally known as the 'Middle Class.'
"if you could have provided some stats/research as to the number of people who have moved out of kerala" sound very much like the thousands of letters that pile up on news desks...but then so does your post :)

silverine said...

Deepti: Thanks! Bangalore and Chennai is the preferred destination due to its proximity to Kerala!

Balu: Almost everyone I meet say that! And I prefer to listen to real people instead of armchair social commentary.

Machiavelli: I am afraid I didn't understand your comment. If you meant that this post will also gather dust like those letters then maybe you are right, but there are quite a few people reading this post. And it is not the readership numbers that counts but the message. And if even one person has got the message that there is a problem here, then I would say I have made a difference in a small way.

And if you were 'not' referring to what I 'think' you are referring to, then I am clueless here :)

Divs said...

Somehow I cannot understand this post. I am 23 and have spend 22 years of my life in Kerala, in Cochin and in Trivandrum. Though there are a number of issues affecting both these cities, I have never even imagined either of these places to be 'dangerous' in any ways. Me and sis and have studied in Kerala state board schools, colleges in Kerala, have driving licenses from Kerala, passport, my parents and relatives constructed their houses in Kerala so on and so forth but never has the mentioned babu-ism came into picture that evidently........and we dont hav friends in govt offices or politics!!!
I was in Trivandrum from 2002-2006 and its a city I have grown to like from hate....
I have many IT industry friends who end up in bangalore, hyderabad,mangalore,chennai and then in two-three months start hunting for that transfer back to Cochin-Trivandrum or wait till they can go back.....infact most of my college-mates who were intially placed else-where hav gotten back to Trivandrum...

And yes, the number of bandhs and hartals has come down......and its not just the way politics is played out in Kerala but the mentality of the people also that makes the road to development difficult.....

I diverted a lot I think....anyways getting back to my intial point, i still dont understand.....

PS: I read the posts on both the blogs, but end up commenting only here!! :)

Machiavelli said...

No...I was just noting that the post and the comment come from pretty much the same source...the middle class to which we all belong. We are the kind of people for whom if it is not going our way then it is the highway (which could lead to Bangalore). Parity of development n all is fine as long as i get my flyovers and my shopping malls. What the post did was say "look how cool Bangalore is. Shame on u Trivandrum." What the comment said was "hey, we might be slow, but we are catching up." (Parallel thought: goonda atrocities catching up with regionall chauvanism?). What is the big deal with Bangalore anyway? never liked the place...too artificial. Give me Chennai anytime; bigger flyovers and better roads:)

silverine said...

Machiavelli: Ah ok! :) And you are absolutely right about Chennai. I love the is a city with a heart unlike Bangalore!

MC said...

kerala is in a precarious situation. if it misses the development boom occuring in india this time, its going to fall into a rut from which it will be really tough to get out.

just like we could defend all the goondaism and petty politics by saying it happens allover india, or that some other state is worse, we could just presume that things will be alright..

but the whole point of posts like these is the fact that considering kerala's much acclaimed literacy and high social and health indices, we should have done a lot lot better. the fact that we havent progressed much in the last couple of decades is a matter of great despair and frustration.

instead of focussing all our energies and strengths in a forward direction, as a state we have just caught ourselves in political frenzy and callous complacency, thanks to our bloody political leaders (whom we simply adore). as a community we have just thrived on false prestige, hypocrisy, and baseless superiority complex.

articles like these are very important in order to expose our weaknesses and strive harder to overcome them. i dont think you can relate them to newspapers who latch on to controversies or issues just for the sake of publicity. i certainly feel that this and other posts amount to constructive criticism and make people think more. its rare that people will accept what they dont like immediately, but it will atleast set them thinking. thats the biggest difference blogs can make.

its easy to brand the author as disillusioned or biased. but i think the intent and motive behind writing these articles is a lot larger than that.

maybe kerala is changing and this is THE revolutionary period which is going to set it into the path of development. while i strongly pray and hope it does, its important to criticize too. there are enough people writing about the good things and sending out the message that alls well.

for example, we have been hearing about vizhinjam port for the last couple of years, with many promises from our CM and ministers. but what has transpired? just two rounds of tenders (wonder who benefitted there) and then more promises that the ports "coming soon" - it will be part of the campaign in the next election too.

people are leaving kerala (and those who have left are hesitant to come back) not only because of poor economic development. but its also (probably more) due to the stagnant sociocultural state and the pitiful mentality thats existent in our society. everything and everyone seems to be caught in a flux of controversy, gossip, scandal, and incessant state of disharmony - this is not only political, but also evident in families, workplaces, communities.

so in the end, even if we have skyscrapers and the best facilities across kerala, the mindset has also got to change with it - which, in my opinion, is a bigger challenge since our people are 100% literate. or so they say..

silverine said...

MC: Thank you! I didn't touch upon the socio cultural aspect to keep this place from becoming a war zone. I wanted to concentrate on the topic at hand :) But the socio cultural aspect is a big prod for these people too. A grandma in my neighborhood says she finds it so nice to step out of the house and not have people speculating what, where and why she is going out. Another aunt who shifted to an apartment in Kerala,has worse tales to tell...she is presently looking to sound proof her house lol!! For these new arrivals the shift is like a huge pressure lifted off from peoples personal lives :)

Divs: Thanks for your inputs!

MC said...

@ silverine - never realized i had put such a long comment..sowwieee :|

i know what you feel crowded in kerala at times..the gossip and small talk gives you a sense of claustrophobia..i guess thats why the backwaters and teagardens are much more serene..the people there are less complicated and more genuine.

Anonymous said...


Enough of Kerala posts already! You've got non mallu readers too... please do not forget!


...Jive Talker said...

Anjali. Kudos. You have stated here what even socio-political analysts haven't managed to, probably because they don't care enough or simply lack the spine to do so. A lot of the issues plaguing our homeland today have one scary root cause - Religious Fundamentalism. In my opinion, most of the "daily bundhs, hartals, morchas, threats from locals politicians and miscellaneous goons" are all impacts of this fundamentalism at work.

Deepti said...

Hey you are really my soul sistah .. ( gulab jamuns from me !!) Wasnta ble to put a comment on your tag post .. so putting this entirely irrelevant comment here and yeah I copied the rules from here :) ...( news just in "Silverine files piracy suit.. runs off to find a lawyer .. )

silverine said...

Deepthi: I have turned off comments since it is a tag! :) I saw that...soul sisters indeed! Its a relief to see chocolate disliker like me. :)

p.s piracy suit wont be filed as I got a wicked sense of satisfaction out of that! :p lol!!!

MC: Absolutely loved the comment. Keep 'em coming! :)

Shashank: Yes sir!

Jive Talker: Thank you! I don't understand why we are so paranoid about criticism? Which is why we are not able to look inwards and correct our faults!

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

i thought i was among the handful of cowards who are seriously thinking of relocating!

God save kerala

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

am forwarding your post to all in my mail list