06 June 2008
"The high wages offered by contractors at the Smart City construction site in Kochi have begun to affect the coir industry in adjoining Alappuzha district," according to Minister for Coir G. Sudhakaran.
"If things are going to be like this, we may have to take up the issue with the Chief Minister," Mr Sudhakaran said at a workshop on the use of coir as a geo-textile here on Tuesday.
He said it was improper for the Smart City contractors to offer "abnormally high wages" at their work site. Many coir workers from Alappuzha were boarding the morning trains to Kochi, lured by the offer of up to Rs 400-a-day for manual labour.
He said there was a limit to what a traditional industry such as coir could offer as wages.
Workers, especially the youth, were leaving the coir industry.
He described the high wages offered in Kochi as "the trickery of international capital". For a period of time the international capital would buy labour at high rates, only to get rid of it later.
On returning home, the workers would find their traditional means of livelihood gone, he said.
The Minister said this was not the kind of development Kerala needed. New-age industries should come to the State providing jobs to the educated youth.
At the same time, growth in that sector should not destroy traditional sectors such as the coir indutry which sustained several lakhs of poor families in the State, he said.
Very interestingly, the paper's archives column "This Day That Age" carried this item, dated 4 June 1958:
Mr Mao Tse Tung, Chinese Communist head of state, in his first published pronouncement for a year, on June 1 praised the poverty of the Chinese people as an incentive to revolution. Mr Mao was writing in the first issue of Red Flag, the new fortnightly theoretical review of the Chinese Communist Party. He wrote: "This seems a bad thing but it is in fact a good thing. The poor people want a change, want to do things, want revolution." Mr Mao said that "the political consciousness of the masses is rising rapidly" and "never before have the masses been so spirited, with such high morale and so strongly determined." He added: "The decisive factor besides the leadership of the party is the 600 million people. The more people, the more views and suggestions, the more intense the fervour and greater the energy." The article, which bears the stamp of Mr Mao's classical literary style, is rich in metaphor.