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66 years on, where has Kerala reached now?

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66 years on,  where has Kerala reached now?
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Kerala State Secretariat.

Today is the 66th birthday of united Kerala - merging Malabar district of erstwhile Madras Presidency, Kasargode district and Travancore-Cochin. It is a matter of pride that in six and a half decades, the state has attained brilliant achievements in various fields such as literacy, educational growth, health care and women's advancement, which are counted as the indices of progress of any civilization. Malayalis has registered a significant presence in the fields of health, science, technology, industry and service in different corners of the world. Keralites also tend to express pride whenever occasions arise, in the matter of political enlightenment and progressive thinking. .

As Kerala prepares to leap higher with bigger goals, it will be good to take stock of our failures and shortcomings along with our achievements. Let education be taken first: in higher education, Kerala has the best universities and colleges and highly skilled teachers. However, the number of students who wish to pursue further studies in Kerala after Plus Two is decreasing day by day. Despite some forbidding political climate, they are interested in pursuing higher studies in other states or foreign countries as well - even by taking loans. More than half of the students are forced to continue their studies here only because of social or financial barriers. Who wants to fall behind in competitive exams and job skills after spending years in college? It cannot be ignored that excessive politicking and vested interests are eroding the achievements in higher education.

In the field of health care, all the best hospitals, not only in India, but even the world, have the signature of health workers from the Keralite land. The role they have played in the fight against Covid, including in foreign countries, was unique. But, like students, health workers are also eager to leave Kerala. We are unable to ensure for health workers not only the wages they deserve but also dignity and safety. It is comforting that there is no pathetic situation, as sometimes reported from northern parts of the country of having to traverse kilometres on foot or to carry patients on bicycles or dead bodies without an ambulance. It is also a matter of pride that many hospitals are coming up in the government sector with state-of-the-art facilities.

However, no one can escape the responsibility for the negligence in ensuring treatment in Attappadi's recurring infant deaths and so on. It is also a failure that the government or the policymakers are not prepared to understand that a sustainable health development model would mean, as an example, building a hospital in Kasaragod by spending a few crores and not borrowing thousands of crores to build the high-speed rail in order to take a cancer patient from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram for treatment in a few hours.

It is a bright picture of Kerala that the women's community has overcome all the barriers that were built by the centres of patriarchy and is making a mark in the field of education and work and continuing to fight in the political field. But when it comes to women's security, each Keralite has to cover his face in shame. It is not an achievement that crime against women is lower than in any other state. In the last calendar year alone, how many girls have been killed as victims of the social scourge of dowry. When each life is lost, we again get jolted. There is no point in writing an epic about women's empowerment unless this tragedy can be completely stopped.

The images of human sacrifice and honour killings reveal how ridiculous the masks and cloaks of renaissance and progressive thinking that Malayalee wore with pride were. The question whether the vigilance shown in electoral politics to defeat communal forces is replicated in social life also needs to be evaluated. The Malayali, who shouts slogans like 'we have no caste' and write social media posts, also must question the zeal to alienate Dalits and backward communities from the sphere of power and academia. New Kerala cannot be made possible by slogans and demonstrations. It should begin with self-criticism without ego. Let this Kerala birthday cause its people to make such an introspection.

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TAGS:Kerala education health dowry killings honour killings Silverline women empowerment 
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