A yen for exchange

George Koshy The Fokana president, George Koshy, who is at present on a tour of the State talks to N. J. Nair about the federation's plans for better interaction with Malayalis.

MALAYALIS WHO have settled in the U.S. are keen on maintaining their roots in Kerala and the Federation of Kerala Associations in North America proposes to take the lead in organising a cultural interaction between the expatriates and the Keralites here, says the Fokana president, George Koshy.

As the first step, the federation is planning to organise a youth convention in Kerala next year. Koshy is at present on a tour of the State to sense the mood of various sections of people. He would return to the U.S. and then finalise the date and venue of the convention that is being planned.

Meeting the Vice-Chancellors of the four universities in the State, the lecturers in various colleges as well as political leaders of all hues to get a first-hand knowledge of the political, educational and cultural milieu of the State, is part of the homework being done by the Fokana president before the convention.

A group of students and teachers would be selected from each university to attend the convention. A team of Malayali students, their lecturers and Vice-Chancellors of various universities in the U.S. would come to Kerala to gain a broad idea about the ethnic life and culture here. This would also help Keralites to get an idea about the job prospects in the U.S.

Malayalis form the second largest Indian community in the U.S. They have been able to make an impact on American society, points out Koshy. The Fokana has a membership of five lakhs and it is striving for the welfare of the Malayali population.

The Fokana president met various leaders and had called on the CPI(M) leader, E.K. Nayanar, the other day. "He is one of my intimate friends and I spent more than an hour with him. I share a warm relation with almost all the leaders,'' he says.

The Federation has formed a corpus for charitable activities and has already undertaken various projects. On learning about the plight of a student in the suburbs of the city who won the 14th rank in SSLC examination, Fokana has decided to build a house for her and assist her in taking up higher studies. Koshy feels the people here generally have a hostile attitude towards non-resident Malayalis, and this is standing in the way of more NRI help flowing into the State.

``Each penny with the NRIs is hard-earned and they are taking up charitable activities due to a genuine concern for their native State,'' he emphasises.

According to Koshy, there should be a change in the work culture too. "Here the people are too relaxed.

Though the rate of literacy and education is very high, Malayalis are not aware of the current market trends and the revolutionary changes in the global economy,'' he says.

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