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Southern States - Kerala-Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

The importance of tomorrow

By K.M. Tampi

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM April 1. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unborn, today is the zing thing — let us live it king size.

This philisophy of life of the ordinary Malayali is undergoing a fast change because of the uncertainty of the times.

The new philosophy which is taking shape seems to be something like this — we could have avoided unnecessary tension if we drew some money from the bank yesterday. Let us do it fast today because we do not know when the bank staff will go on a snap strike.

Let us also put one or two more litres of petrol in the two-wheeler as one does not know whether somebody will call a bandh masquerading as a hartal tomorrow. The buses, including those of the KSRTC, will be off the road and the kid or kids will have to be dropped at school.

Some money will have to be spared for replenishing the larder also to meet the needs of at least two days. What if somebody calls a two-day hartal.

All that have turned today also insignificant. Tomorrow has become all-important not for the promises it held but for the trials and tribulations it is likely to bring. From that point of view at least, the people of Kerala have become future-looking.

You are mistaken if you think that this is an imaginary scenario created by stringing together some of the worst aspects of contemporary Kerala society to scare the s..t out of the common man. It is happening right here and now.

In case you have forgotten, today is the second day of the two-day hartal called by the Kerala Vyapari Vyvasayi Ekopana Samithy to protest mainly against the Government's move to introduce the value-added tax (VAT) system.

The State Government cannot do anything on its own in the case of VAT as it is to be introduced all over the country. It was to have come into effect today but as some other States were yet to complete the formalities, Kerala too has postponed its imposition.

The Finance Minister, K. Sankaranarayanan, had clarified all these points and had offered to hold discussions with the traders representatives to sort out problems if any which the fraternity may have to face due to its imposition. Yet they went ahead with the hartal.

It is mainly because of two factors that the people are not feeling the pinch of the hartal much. One is the non-cooperation of the dissidents in the traders' organsiation and the appearance of a rival organisation.

They are keeping their shops open. A dissident leader jocularly charged the Government with having aided the hartal by keeping the liquor shops closed today in accordance with its decision to make pay days dry days.

Incidentally, the salary of the Government employees was not disbursed as usual on the first of every month today because of the annual closing of accounts of the banks. The other factor which made the hartal bearable was the absence of political support for it.

Had even a splinter party supported it, the hartal would have assumed the proportions of a bandh.

But the current hartal marks the beginning of a new disturbing trend — the birth of long protests. The hartals used to be half day or one-day affairs and other protests 12 or 24 hours long.

Protests have of late become 101-hour-long affairs. The sweet and sour memories of the long strike organised over a year ago by State Government employees is still fresh in the minds of the common man.

One knows not when somebody is going to call a week-long hartal or a strike reserving the right to go in for extensions if necessary.

The inconvenience caused by the hartal was compounded by Statewide token strikes by private bus operators and petroleum products dealers both as a gesture of support to the traders' cause and to highlight their own grievances.

The former are demanding bus fare revision and the latter the removal of the sting of the VAT and withdrawal of canopy tax among other things.

The banks too did not function today because of the annual closing of accounts. Those who were expecting a bank strike to thicken the plot need not be disheartened.

At least one bank is obliging them. The Employees Union of the Federal Bank which had organised a nationwide strike on March 31 is organising another one which is also countrywide tomorrow to press demands like filling of vacancies, regularisation of temporary staff and honouring of agreements.

Through it, the organisation has effectively blocked its honoured customers from transacting any business for three full days. Fraternal organisations can perhaps take a lesson from it on how to block business for three or more days by striking for just two days.

And that brings us back to the thrust of the matter — the glorification of tomorrow. The larder has to be replenished for that. Let us do it fast.

Tomorrow will become more colourful if you throw in some dried fish, a chunk of frozen meat or at least a couple of eggs — make it half a dozen if it is quails — to the rice and the palmolein which, they assure you, is of RBD quality.

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