Random thoughts recollected (not) in tranquility
by P M Ravindran on 01 Jul 2020 1 Comment

The best news that I read during these pandemic times came on June 22, 2020 in India Today. On an appeal against the apex court’s decision of June 18, banning the Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra, a three-member bench of the same court permitted the Rath Yatra on a ritualistic scale, without devotee participation. What interested me more was that the Chief Justice, who presided over the hearing through video conferencing, did it from his residence in Nagpur.


Advocate Hariraj from Kerala states that in Kerala, it usually takes more than a week to get regular bail from Appellate (Sessions) Courts or the High Court. In case of Anticipatory Bail, the waiting period is anywhere between one to two weeks. On June 16, 2020 the Kerala High Court introduced e-filing of bail applications under a fancy name – Interoperable Bail Module. Hariraj had filed an application for anticipatory bail on the same day. He got a message that e-filed cases have received instructions in the ‘interoperable dashboard’ of the judge and it would be heard on merits the same day.


The case was called once, passed over for the special government pleader to appear, then taken up later and heard on merits. The police station had uploaded the FIR, Remand Report, Wound Certificate etc., and it appeared on the judge’s dashboard. The bail application was allowed by the court. Hariraj immediately applied for the certified copy of the bail order. The digitally signed bail order came to his email address by 5 p.m. A copy was also seen sent to the concerned police station. Everything within 24 hours of filing the bail application, possibly for the first time in the history of Kerala High Court and criminal justice system.


Should one thank Covid-19 for having achieved what more than a decade of demand by other stakeholders could not achieve. In July 2007, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India, while launching computerization of courts at New Delhi, said: ‘It is my experience that computerization of a large organization or mission is successful only if the processes themselves are re-engineered for realizing the full benefits of automation.’


The next report (or more precisely series of reports) exposed the sham in the claims of the Government of Kerala about its handling of Covid-19. These vindicated my belief that it had been bragging all along more than doing something worthwhile.


Having demanded that all Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs) be brought back to their home state from wherever they were, especially from the Gulf, and claimed that it had 2.5 lakh quarantine beds ready for them, the Government started backtracking even before 5000 had returned. Instead of admitting their folly, they started imposing weird conditions for the return of the expatriates. From mandating that the charges of chartered flights be not more than that of Vande Bharat Mission flights, to getting Covid-19 negative certificates before boarding flights, every effort was made to thwart the efforts of NRKs to return to their families in their native places. With the Center putting its foot down, the requirement was watered down to ‘NRKs should make sincere effort to get the Covid-19 negative certificates when they are issued by the host countries’.


Earlier, I received links to several reports in the international media lauding the Kerala Government for its management of the pandemic {see at end}. It could easily be dubbed the greatest public relations effort ever.


Tom Jose, the chief secretary, retired on May 30, 2020 and was immediately given a sinecure as chairman of Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation. Jacob Thomas, the senior most IPS officer in the state, retired as MD, Metal Industries Ltd, Shornur, the next day (a Sunday). On his last day in office, he posted a photograph on social media showing a bed sheet spread on the floor of his office, with a pillow, that he had used to sleep on while in office. He appeared on many talk shows thereafter and publicly stated that he had not received his pay throughout his tenure in this office.

Tom Jose and his predecessor, K.M. Abraham, were embroiled in many controversies during their career. Mathrubhumi daily (January 10, 2017) reported that the CM had told these secretaries that he had saved them by not granting permission to Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (then headed by Jacob Thomas) to prosecute them.


K.M. Abraham, on retirement, was appointed CEO of Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). He had reportedly revised the pay and perks of the CEO, KIIFB even before he demitted the office of the Chief Secretary. Asianet News reported that almost all Chief Secretaries and a few secretaries, who sretired after the current LDF government took charge, have been given sinecures at heavy cost to the exchequer. Another report puts this to be around Rs 7 lakhs per month, on an average, for each of them.  


My last random thought is about a film in the making: Vaariyamkunnath, based on the life and times of Kunhahmed Haji, a jihadi role in the infamous Malabar Riots of 1921. The riots were an effort by Muslims in support of the Caliph of Turkey who had been dethroned by Britain at the end of the First World War. In that sense it was against the then colonial masters of India too. But its victims were the simple Hindus of Malabar. More than 10,000 Hindus were killed; many more converted. Women and children were brutalized. Gandhi never condemned it. Dr Ambedkar and Rabindranth Tagore, who visited the State then, unequivocally condemned the riots and even Gandhi’s position.


Now, it is being alleged that the producer, Ashiq Abu, is trying to whitewash the incidents and give it the hue of the independence movement. Countering this is Ali Akbar who wants to make another movie exposing the reality as it was.


The present Government led by Pinayari Vijayan of the CPI (M) is trying to woo Muslims through the Social Democratic Party of India and Popular Front of India, both with dubious reputations, to counter the Congress-IUML alliance in the UDF and remain electorally viable. The LDF expects to return to power in 2026 with a Muslim majority. One leader posted on social media that the fate of the wealth of Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram would be decided then. This is an ominous warning to other temples and Hindu institutions and Hindus themselves.




-        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52116779 

-        https://www.vogue.in/culture-and-living/content/vogue-warriors-kk-shailaja-kerala-health-minister-covid-19-response 

-        https://www.dhakatribune.com/world/south-asia/2020/04/12/how-kerala-flattened-its-coronavirus-curve 

-        https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/coronavirus-indias-kerala-state-flattens-curve-200418180016554.html

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