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District Notes

The people of Kasaragod district feel that they continue to be neglected by Southern Railway when it comes to getting new facilities. When the Kannur and Kozhikode railway stations got touchscreen machines on Tuesday, Kasaragod, the headquarters of the northernmost district, has been left out.

The touchscreen machine, installed as part of the National Train Enquiry System, would help passengers get access to up-to-date details of trains, viz. the reservation position, timetable, train fare, coach position, etc.

The Railways has been considerate to the district headquarters of Wayanad and Malappuram as well by installing the passenger-friendly Computerised Passenger Reservation System in those centres. The machines have been installed at the Collectorates in Kalpetta and Malappuram even though the two hilly district headquarters have no railway connectivity.

In Kasaragod railway station, one often finds the British-made Card Ticketing System lacking in facilities to meet the heavy rush during peak hours. And thanks to the apathy on the part of the railway authorities in relocating the Information Counter, one has to enter the platform to make any enquiry. For any law-abiding non-travelling citizen, this would cost Rs. 3 (for a platform ticket).

The station is also not linked to the Inter-Active Voice Response System by which one could know the current status of trains on telephone.

* * *

Finally Vineetha R. Kottai's resilience has triumphed. After a war that lasted over a decade against the mighty organisational strength of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Ms. Kottai and her family could make the party withdrew its decision to ostracise them unconditionally this week.

The events took place in CPI(M)'s bastion at Kuttiyadi in Kozhikode district. Ms. Kottai, a widow, and her family were ostracised by the Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU) and its parent organisation, the CPI(M), following her refusal to employ Narayani, Ms. Kottai's neighbour, as a labourer in a 5-acre land belonging to her father. Once the campaign was launched, the KSKTU and the CPI(M) saw to it that no worker in the area worked in her land.

The fact that her father was a local leader of the undivided Communist Party of India did not help her. She had to face a lot of hardships in the wake of the campaign against her. The mental torture and financial problems as a result of the ostracism had a telling effect on her family. Her children's education had also suffered.

She has now claimed Rs.10 lakhs as compensation for the mental torture and hardships she faced.

Some of the men labourers who had worked earlier in her land have now come forward to work for her now that the ostracism has been lifted.

Though some people praised the humane gesture on the part of the local CPI(M) leadership, some others point out that its timing is significant. It is election time, they point out.

* * *

The directive of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangatan to schools under its control on vacations and breaks for the academic year 2004-05 has stirred up a hornets' nest. Christians are up in arms against what they allege a hidden motive on the part of the Union Government to turn the youth away from Church functions.

The Pala diocese has already raised objections to the directive and wants the Sangatan to revise it so that there is no discrimination against Christian students. According to the new calendar, Kendriya Vidyalayas would have the winter break from January 3 to 16, 2005. This, in effect, would be denying the students their normal vacation in the last week of December. The present timetable would not help Malayalis settled in the north to come home for Christmas.

* * *

What is the secret of doing good business? A few indigenous lessons were given at a meeting convened by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) here recently. Curiously enough, these lessons came from a few Gujaratis and Marwadis, known for their business acumen.

Three businessmen narrated the stories behind their success. The disclosure made by the proprietor of an exporting firm was the most interesting. Going to new places in search of a fresh opportunity was one of his golden rules. He established a chain of flour mills in Karnataka, where such mills were few. While planning to start a business in Alappuzha, people dissuaded him saying that it was a dangerous place. Undaunted, he set up business in the `troublesome place.'

``We go even to those places where bullock carts don't go,'' he said. Another rule, perhaps more important, is that they do not employ their own people. ``Everyone wants to be owners, not workers,'' he remarked.

Another businessman, owner of a thriving commodities trading and export business, has a piece of advice: Be fair to your customer. The lessons were not essentially scientifically tested, but time-tested.

(Contributed by K.P. Pushparaj in Kasaragod, J.S. Bablu in Kozhikode and K. Venkiteswaran and R. Ram

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