`God's Own Country' is known for hartals that bring life to a standstill. But take heart, times are a-changing. Now, the political leadership of the land, which had been egging people on to go on hartals, is having second thoughts.

Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's statement about `hartals' being soft on the tourists' movement came as surprise during his speech at a tourism seminar at the recently concluded World Malayalee Council Global Conference.

Like essential services such as milk supply, medical care and the media, tourists will also be free to go about their itinerary without any hindrance from those who have called for hartal, the Minister said.

People can perhaps stick a label of `tourist' on their vehicles to move around on a hartal day.