KERALA

Reporter's Diary

The late poetess Balamaniyamma can truly be described as the Nightingale of Kerala. The saying goes - "Behind every man's success, there is a woman" - but in this case, it was her husband, the late V.M. Nair, who gave her the necessary support and encouragement to blossom as a poetess, recalls Thangam Jacob of Aymanam, who is an old friend of the Nairs. She says that she was fortunate to be associated with the family for decades. She landed in Kolkata (then Calcutta),way back in 1941, when she joined the staff of the Lady Brabourne Government College for Women. The Malayali community in Kolkata was a very small one; and the Nairs' was a hospitable home, Mrs. Jacob recollects.

With the entry of Japan into World War II, Kolkata was a targeted city; most Malayalis sent their children south - the Nairs sent Madhavikutty (Kamala - Aamy) to their ancestral home in Nalappatt. She says that herself and her colleagues were very frequent visitors at their house - very near their college hostel.

"Balamaniyamma was an angelic human form. She couldn't and wouldn't even think or dream of anything bad about anyone. Without exaggeration, she considered it a sin to think badly of anyone. Innocence was written in large letters across her face! She lived in a world of her own - amid her poetic blossom! May her soul rest in peace!" is Mrs. Jacob's prayer.

Kudumbasree has come a long way even by the standards of its ambitious origins. It has turned into a path-breaker as far as the information technology initiatives are concerned. Close on the heels of recent reports that Kudumbasree was planning to ride the outsourcing wave to prosperity for the women who were organised under it, the entire operation of the Kudumbasree would be computerised.

Now, that is moving with the times. When the process is complete, the entire Kudumbasree network from panchayat level up will be linked through its own network.

The Kudumbasree programme was started as a means to eradicate absolute poverty and to give a semblance of financial independence to women from the poorest strata of our society. They have succeeded not only in finding a solution to rampant poverty but also to do it in style. The array of undertakings under Kudumbasree is enough to convince anyone of their intentions and will to surmount all difficulties.

The latest news that Kudumbasree operations will be computerised is no surprise given that Ashraya, an already successful programme under it, would be leveraged to achieve more than what other welfare programmes have achieved so far.

Kochi city continues to be the favourite location for the Malayalam film industry. The number of films being shot here saw a steady increase during the last one year. Leading directors have also moved to the city considering the facilities available for both production and post-production works.

Actors Mammootty and Dileep had spent several days in the city recently with the shooting of their forthcoming movies.

Mammootty was busy acting in Ranjith's new movie, Black. Dileep returned to the city for completing the shooting of Rasikan directed by Lal Jose. Manapattiparambu was one of the main locations for Rasikan.

Black was shot at various outdoor locations in the city. Actors Mohanlal and Srinivasan are the latest entrants to the commercial capital. Film lovers in the city can watch them more in the coming days acting in debutant director Roshan's new film, Udayananu Tharam.

The vanilla farmers are not a happy lot these days. Having jumped on the vanilla bandwagon spurred by shooting prices for the beans a couple of years ago, the farmers are at a loss now. Because, the prices have fallen as sharply as they had shot up, mainly due to the fluctuations of the international market. Things have turned out just the way the fortunes of cocoa and countless other crops had fallen earlier.

But, this time, the farmers seem to be determined to cling on to the vanilla dream. The formation of a vanilla producers company is only one of their strategies. They hope to maintain a steady price, at least at the current market levels. And they are also not averse to showering attacks on the Spices Board and other Government agencies that had dropped the initial bait a few years ago. At the same time, the Spices Board has clearly expressed its helplessness in the face of the altering international market.

However, the Board too seems to be undeterred by the falling prices since it continues to sell off the vanilla cuts (stems ready for planting) whatever be the price of the product.

K.A. Martin,

G. Krishnakumar and

Renu Ramanath

By K. Venkiteswaran, K.A. Martin, G. Krishnakumar and Renu Ramanath

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