The central government has brought to a standstill Kerala’s attempts to collect financial aid from foreign countries in order to survive the devastation caused by the recent flood and build back a new state.
The Centre has posed an obstacle for the state’s survival projects in the name of technicalities by denying travel permission for the Ministers to foreign countries and imposing severe restrictions on the Chief Minister’s UAE visit. This is not the first time the Centre has been displaying a negative approach towards the biggest natural disaster experienced by Kerala. The principles of union and federalism are not for fighting each other but for facilitating the development process. It is when the nation as much as the individuals, is able to receive the love of the world by going beyond conventions and norms in times of great mishaps like deluge, that the values of humanity shine bright. Unfortunately, we cannot help but say that the approach of the Modi government towards Kerala post flood, is one of severe political bias which cannot be justified on the basis of civil values or with the yardstick of economic progress.
The warm and friendly ties with the Arab society was shaped by the Keralite expats through six decades of warm social interactions. The hands of assistance extended by the Arab society during the time of deluge was a reciprocation of the sweat of the Keralites shed for the growth and progress of the Gulf region. Contrary to the norm, newspapers and the media, NGOs, social organisations and commercial institutions including banks announced financial aid for rebuilding Kerala. The Centre was rendering futile the efforts of extraordinary solidarity extended by the Arab and the expat society through its unilateral decision of not accepting foreign aid. It is not only the fund for development that has been rejected but also the faith they had in the Keralites. The move to block the foreign visits for collection of aid is an extension of that. In order to realize the slogan ‘We will survive’, there should certainly be protests against the negative stance of the Centre which reeks only of political animosity.
The questions raised by different expat societies whether the foreign trips of Chief Minister and his Ministers have any concrete agenda, are also pertinent in this context. The cooked up programs of the foreign trips for collecting the aid prove, that the state government still wishes to consider the expats as a mere source of funds, even after the Loka Kerala Sabha. It is doubtful whether the state government has grasped or recognized the non-financial services of the expatriates, in helping people to survive the flood. In a situation when communication service was disrupted and the people stranded due to flood, it was hundreds of youth in foreign countries who toiled hard as a medium of relief operations. They showcased a praiseworthy service in bringing the attention of the world to Kerala through the social media.
All sections of the people – including industrialists, voluntary organizations and common people drawing low salaries too - became part of the rescue efforts by supplying relief materials in the initial stage of the flood, and later by extending financial help to the Chief Minister's distress relief fund. By no means will that extent of fund or aid suffice to fully overcome the damage of flood – that wreaked real havoc in the state- or to build a new Kerala. But when new fund raising means are introduced, it should be accompanied by concrete schemes and convincing planning agenda. It should reflect the realization that Kerala's problems are of such depth as cannot be solved by mere borrowing; that should also contain the action plan the state wishes to pursue in the light of the Centre's hostile and negative approach towards receiving financial aid from foreign countries. It is high time that everyone in ruling position got the conviction that the Keralite diaspora has by now become a responsible global community.