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Kerala: God's Own Country
Turning to Devil's Own Hell
|by Prof. Dr. Dominic KV|
Kerala, the State I belong to lies at the southern end of India. A small State with 15000 square miles, just 1.18% of India’s landmass, but thickly populated with 3.4 crores, it is tourists’ paradise popularly known as “God’s own country.” Her feet are stroked by the gentle waves and ripples of the Arabian Sea and her upper body is protected by the Western Ghats from the extreme heat of the sun. This protection of the State by the sea and the mountains blesses her with a humid wet climate.
Kerala gets an average annual rainfall of 3107 mm – some 7,030 crore m3 of water.
This is in comparison to the all-India average of 1,197 mm. As a result of two seasonal monsoons Kerala averages some 120–140 rainy days per year. Kerala’s average maximum daily temperature is around 36.7 °C; the minimum is 19.8 °C. There are forty four rivers and fifteen major lakes in the State. 26.6% of the geographic area of Kerala is forests and there are six national parks and fourteen wild sanctuaries.
The statistics of the State detailed here proclaim the fact that there are very few places in the world which are so attractive by pleasant equable climate and topography. Even when I feel content and fortunate to be born, brought up and settled in this State I am equally grieved by the devilish attitudes, character and conduct of my countrymen. The literacy rate of Kerala is 93.9%, the highest in the country, to the national rate of 74.04. When education makes one cultured and civilized, the fellow beings of my State go backward to the barbarians’ stage. They are crazy after materialism, and divinity in them has lost to such an extent that they give no importance to principles, values, family and social relations, coexistence with human beings and other beings. Instead they are trying their maximum to exploit their fellow beings, other beings and the planet itself. If it goes like this, the total destruction is not far away. It is the duty of the religious leaders, political leaders and the intelligentsia to inject the lost values to the masses and thus preserve this planet and the inhabitants from the imminent devastation. Instead, majority of these leaders become mafias and inject communal and corruptive venom to the minds of the masses. Corruption has become the hallmark of these leaders and influenced by them the masses also deviate from the right track to the evil track. And who will save this society? My answer is: writers, particularly poets who are like prophets.
Let me go back to my childhood in 1960s. Literally my State was God’s own land at that time. The south-west monsoon starts punctually in the first week of June itself and continues for three months of incessant rains followed by north-east monsoon in the afternoon for another three months with periodic intervals. From January to June we have summer season. As urbanization and its adverse impact on the ecology and environment had been very slow one could see greenery all over the State with paddy fields, coconut farms, rubber, tea and cardamom estates and thick reserve forests. Rice still remains the steeple food of the people. But where are the paddy fields? One can find very seldom except in two or three districts. People of Kerala now depend on other neighbouring States for food grains, vegetables, milk, meat, and several other groceries. Majority of children in Kerala now have not seen the plant which yields rice. Vast green paddy fields have now been filled and converted to plantation crops, shopping complexes, or remaining arid and uncultivated. People have become so lazy that they don’t want to sweat outside, exposed to sunlight. They are after white collared jobs and till they get one they will wander idle. As a result the real man power or working force in Kerala is not the Keralites but North Indian labourers who are employed in domestic to agricultural and industrial sector. Ten percent of people in Kerala now are labourers from the other States.
In my childhood there were rains for six months and as a result all the forty four rivers were live and vibrant with rushing water round the year. There have been cases of floods during monsoons. But now in summer almost all rivers are dry with little flow of water. Greedy land mafia appropriate government forests with the help of politicians and corrupt bureaucrats and deforest thousands of acres. Similarly, sand mafia mine sands of the rivers, digging them to die. Due to massive deforestation landslides have become a common calamity now whenever heavy downpour occurs. The upper class in the State clamours for express highways, bullet trains and more airports ignoring the poor masses who will be losing their houses and small agricultural lands causing further damages to environment and ecology. This imbalanced development will widen the gaps between the poor and the rich and tumble the equable pleasant climate of the State. Since regular monsoons are there, the cheapest power source of Kerala is hydroelectric projects.
As power consumption has now multiplied in the State, the governments are trying to construct more and more dams and thus immerse forests and their lives under water. Recently there have been several reports about wild elephants and tigers encroaching villages, destroying crops and even killing goats and human beings. What will they do if their habitats are destroyed by man? Man is the most selfish being on earth and he believes that the planet is created for him exclusively. I have written a long poem of twenty one sections, entitled “Write My Son, Write” delineating human beings atrocities to Nature and other beings and even to the Creator Himself. It is published in my poetry collection Write Son, Write. In it God is asking the poet to write and propagate God’s message. Let me quote a few lines from it related to our topic.
Though the lines I have quoted have universal appeal, it is cent percent applicable to my fellow beings in the State. I don’t think that there are any other States in India which show such downright cruelty to animals. My own close neighbour, a doctor by profession has killed my seven cats in three different attempts just for the reason that they defecated in his vast compound. I could only retaliate or avenge my pets’ massacres by writing a poem and publishing it with the title “Massacre of Cats.” Let me quote from it:
The construction mania in my State uproots innumerable trees which serve as shelter to the pedestrians and passengers waiting for the buses. The selfless service the trees render to human beings and other beings including birds and flies is inexpressible. There was a huge mango tree on the side of road near to the main gate of the college I studied. Thousands of students and passengers waited under its cool shade for the buses. But unfortunately the municipal authorities uprooted it for constructing concrete waiting shed which emanated unbearable heat. I have composed a poem on it and published in my collection Winged Reason. The title of the poem is “I am Just a Mango Tree.” It is conversational in form mainly between God and the tree. Let me quote a few lines from it:
Let me wind up my paper concluding that modern man’s crazy race after material comforts and luxuries have destroyed forests, wet fields, ponds, lakes and rivers which stored water for the sustenance of human beings and others beings and as a result this God’s own land is facing severe drought in summer which lasts to even eight months. Lack of sufficient rain causes shortage of drinking water in addition to power crisis. Thus this God’s own country is turning into Devils’ own hell now.
Dominic, K. V. “I am Just a Mango Tree.” Winged Reason. By Dominic. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2010. 40-41. Print.
---. “Massacre of Cats.” Write Son, Write. By Dominic. New Delhi: Gnosis, 2011. 44-46. Print.
---. “Write, My Son, Write.” Write Son, Write. By Dominic. New Delhi: Gnosis, 2011. 21-37. Print.
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