Its time that Kerala’s tourism corporation change Keralas tagline to "Hartals own country". Between January 16 and August 20 this year, the country’s most literate and most unemployed state(30% for men and 60% for women) successfully participated in a whopping 89 hartals.
Be it the hanging of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain or the Danish cartoon of the Prophet, Malayalis are the first to bring shutters down. Ironically, it is the Kerala High Court which banned bandhs for the first time in the country in 1997, which was later upheld by the Supreme Court also.
But apart from a few hapless stranded tourists everyone seems to be celebrating hartal. The TV channels are happy bunch as they compete for eyeball of Malayali's stranded at home with nothing else to do. The governemnt of Kerala is happy as on Bandh eve cash register of the state beverages’ corporation(sole marketing agency for foreign liquor in Kerala) keeps ringing. The total revenue to the exchequer from sale of foreign liquor was Rs 2913.90 crore in 2007-08, an increase of Rs 488.41 crore than the previous year. On the last hartal, some parts of the idyllic state managed to clock up sales of more chicken and liquor than even at Christmas. So more Bandh means more revenue to Government of Kerala. With no other Industry in Kerala, I am sure Kerala Government will not say no to this source of Income.
On the flipside, Even though hartals have helped to increase the "quality" family time. There is only some much a hubby and wife can bear each other resulting in kerala having highest divorse rates in India.
Now it seems that even CPM has jumped into fray to keep Malayali's entertained. CPM’s this month started an amusement park at a whooping cost of Rs300mn. The park is the brainchild of Achuthanandan’s archrival Pinnarayi Vijayan, the CPM state secretary.