A protest meeting against assault on a writer

My town Palakkad saw on this Sunday a protest meeting. It was against the cruel attack, presumably carried out by Islamist fundamentalist group on an upcoming writer Jimshar that took place near here on July 24th. His “crime” was giving a name to his book that did not please the Islamists.

The meeting was organised by the local chapter of Yukthivadi Sangham, the rationalist organisation. It was inaugurated by member of Indian Parliament (MP) and Communist Party of India leader M B Rajesh. The local member of Kerala legislative assembly (MLA) Shafi Parambil belonging to the Congress party also participated. Jimshar could not come due to his injuries.

M B Rajesh inaugurating the meet. Image credit : Malayala Manorama

M B Rajesh inaugurating the meet.
Image credit : Malayala Manorama

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Poor tribals languishing in jail for eating wild meat

Those living here are the most impoverished, under nourished and  illiterate among the population of my state of Kerala. Most of them inhabit areas in and around forests. They live by gathering food from the forests or by crude cultivation in small patches of land adjacent to forests.They used to hunt wild animals before. But with strict anti hunting laws adopted to preserve wild life they are not allowed to do that now.

Due to acute malnutrition in the region, premature births and infant deaths have become a routine in Attappady. Photo shows children at South Kadampara tribal hamlet in Sholayur gram panchayat, Attappady. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

Due to acute malnutrition in the region, premature births and infant deaths have become a routine in Attappady. Photo shows children at South Kadampara tribal hamlet in Sholayur gram panchayat, Attappady. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat, The Hindu.

I am talking about tribal people living in Attappady region of my district. More than 90 % of them are below India’s officially recognised poverty line. Most of them never get two square meals a day. Deaths due to under nutrition are common here. This comparative graph on Human Development index tells you the abysmal state.

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Islamist extremists assault an upcoming writer

An upcoming writer was brutally assaulted in Kerala, India yesterday. It happened near my place around 40 miles from here. Twenty six years old P Jimshar was waiting for bus at the bus stop in Kootanad. An unknown person started a pleasant conversation with him. Few others joined and suddenly they began beating him. Luckily they did not had any weapons. Though severely beaten he survived without any critical injuries.

Jimshar.P (from Facebook)

Jimshar.P (from Facebook)

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Moral policing by Court

Two college students,studying in the same class, 20 years of age, fall in love. They decide to live together. They leave the college hostel and live in a rented room. The college authorities come to know about it. A five member committee of senior faculty members is formed for a detailed enquiry. The students are summoned. They admit before the committee that they are living together. The committee decides to take disciplinary action against the couple. Both are expelled from the college.

The girl approaches the court asking to quash the expulsion order.

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Medical students battling anti vaccine attitudes

This week-end saw medical students of Kerala’s medical colleges on a campaign trail. They were at the epicentre of anti vaccine campaign in the state, in the rural areas of Malappuram District.

They were at Tanalur, a place near Tirur. People here are fairly prosperous and well-educated. But they feel vaccines are bad for their kids. Here the percentage of children fully vaccinated was well under fifty percent. The families here used to close their doors at health workers who come to their homes urging them to vaccinate.

Some believe naturopath quacks when they say taking vaccines and preventing “harmless” diseases is anti nature. Others believe their political leaders who say vaccines are an imperialist conspiracy to produce sterility in the third world population. Many believe their religious scholars who tell them that Allah is giving complete protection from the womb itself and humans trying to usurp him is not only absurd but against “god”. There are also other allegations against vaccines like they are produced from pig meat and they result in paralysis and mental retardation. In several families, women who wanted their kids to be protected by vaccines had to face tough resistance from men.

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Lethal mix of pseudoscience, religion and conspiracy theories

Media in the state of Kerala, India, has reported prominently another vaccine preventable death in the state. A 15 year old boy from Malappuram district was the latest victim of the lethal mix of religion, conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. He died yesterday due to diphtheria.

Diphtheria outbreaks and deaths are not a big news in rest of India. India has 10-15 times more Diphtheria cases than any other country in the World. But it is news in Kerala state as it has comparatively much better health care record. Here in Kerala the diphtheria cases and thereby deaths are extremely rare in the last 10-15 years. Average annual incidence of diphtheria was around 10 cases in the whole of the state. But last two years saw a sudden spurt of cases from Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. There were also two deaths last year.

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Communist Left takes charge in Kerala

My state of Kerala in India has yet another Left front government. In 1957 , in the first election after the formation of the state, Kerala had created history by democratically electing a Communist party government. Since then the Communist led Left front has been voted to power 7 times, ruling more or less alternatingly, with Congress led United front.

The Left front consist mainly of two communist parties, the smaller Communist Party of India and the bigger Communist Party of India ( Marxist). Indian Communists, in theory, still aim for Communism through establishing a dictatorship state of proletariat. Before reaching that stage they believe that there need to be a people’s democratic revolution and for that their participation in parliamentary democratic politics is essential.

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