Not a future perfect Onam in sight

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There are two trends happening in literature. The number of readers has been going up which needs to be seen as a very good sign. There are a variety of reasons for this.

But the disturbing trend is that the reader is not very much concerned about content in the books he or she reads. Content need not be an essentiality these days for a majority of the readers.

And around 40 per cent of the books read are translations which need not be of any great class and a good part of it is basically trash.

This has resulted in lower quality literature becoming popular and getting widely read and that is certainly not a welcome trend at all.

Coming to reader quality in Kerala, it has to be noted that there is a crisis in literature. Malayalam is no longer the dominant language in which the Malayali reads literature.

A decade from now, the position of the language in literature may turn to be worse. It is after reading around 10 books in English that I chance upon a Malayalam one.

This explains to a great extent the present state of Malayalam literature. Quality stuff is lacking.

And like across the world, the distinction between fiction and non-fiction is practically on the wane. Strictly, you cannot make this distinction now in several works.

The journalese, `narrative description’, has come into fiction. This is why what is non-fiction can pass off as fiction and vice versa. This is being noticed in Malayalam too.

Looking at the future of Malayalam literature, I am, sad to say, pessimistic.Renowned Malayalam writer and former bureaucrat.

better days for artists to come

Bbose krishnamachari

Come November and Kochi would be playing host to India's first International Biennale. Around 1.3 million visitors from across the world will be laying siege to the historic heritage sites in Kochi which will be showcasing the work of around 75 international artistes from 45 different countries.

The biennale itself is a non- commercial event and is open to the public and all funding will go towards running basic costs and production related to specific artistes' projects.

Going beyond the conventional biennale framework, a lot of art work created and displayed at Biennales is different from what you would see at commercial galleries and art fairs.

A biennale provides artistes with an opportunity to create large-scale conceptual artwork free from the constraints of the market.

A lot of the artwork will be temporary interactions between the artiste and the public in unusual public spaces.

And 10 years from hence, the biennale will have taken place five times! The effect the recurring festival of international art will have on the region will be more infrastructure for art as well as more art students and more space for art.

There will also be an increased awareness of art resulting in more collectors and more young Keralite artistes who would be able to work full time on their art.
Renowned painter

(As told to Priya Sreekumar)

coalition politics not to go soon

Hibi Eden, MLA

AKerala’s coalition politics, which is even a precursor to coalition governments at the centre, will be here to stay irrespective of the fact that the Congress and the CPM perceive the minor partners as spoilsports.

We are becoming a digressive society and regional parties have come into prominence on the basis of caste and religion not only in Kerala but even in other parts of the country.

There is no denying the fact that coalition politics has affected the development of the state. The danger is that many of the regional parties do not have a clear policy on matters of governance.

This was one reason why the KSU welcomed the CPM taking over the education portfolio during the time of the previous LDF government.

If we take the Congress, we can see that this is a party which represents the interests of all sections of people like farmers, workers or minorities.

But this is not the case with regional parties who cater to the interests of a particular section. But this very situation has given opportunities to some in the regional parties to rise to leadership and become ministers without much hard work.

For the Congress, it is also a reality that it has to depend on parties like the Muslim League in north Kerala, to come to power. But the flip side is that the Congress has to sacrifice some of the seats it can win to partners due to the compulsions of coalition politics.

In the last polls this led to the defeat of the UDF candidates in some constituencies.

One remedy could be the forming of a common minimum programme which can serve as a guideline when controversial issues like the recent Nelliyampathy row threatens harmony within the front.

(As told to Manoj Mathew)

Dealing with geriatric population is biggest demographic challenge

SABU ALIYAR & DILIP T.R.

How to address the issues of a geriatric population will be the biggest demographic challenge before the state during the next 10 years.

The issue is going to be more and more complex by 2025 when the number of senior citizens in the state will be more than the younger set of people.

Dr Sabu Aliyar, a population scientist of the Canadian Institute of Public Research told Deccan Chronicle that one of the reasons why India could overcome the economic crisis was because we have a higher number of people in the employable age that the west.

The situation had changed, he said. Now the birth rate too was almost the same as the west, he said.

However, there is a positive aspect. Women had to spend much more time for giving birth and raising children, with three or more kids in a family. This had changed. Women now have more time to go out and seek a career, he said.

Dr Dilip T.R., senior scientist with the Public Health Foundation of India said that the health care sector and the economy have to readjust to this new reality.

They were essentially meant to address the younger people. We need to have more oldage homes, more health care programmes for the old and more income support schemes, he said.

According to the 2011 census, Kerala’s population as on March 1, 2011 was 3,33,87,677, with 1,60,21,290 males and 1,73,66,387 females.

The percentage decadal growth rate of Kerala's population during 2001-2011 was 4.86, compared to 17.64 for India as a whole, which has a total population of 1,21,01,93,422.

Scientists at the Canadian Institute of Public Research and Public Health Foundation of India

(As told to Sabloo Thomas)

Hurdles aplenty for sports unless we put in efforts

M. Velayudhan Kutty

Kerala is a powerhouse in athletics, especially in the women’s category. Awareness about sports and hardwork has helped us attain this status.

But are we equipped to retain the supremacy in the coming decades as states such as Haryana and Tamil Nadu are showing greater levels of commitment in taking sports to the next level.

Most of our coaches have said that unless we raise our infrastructure and offer better training facilities, our athletes will be left gasping for breath in the tight race.

In the recently held south zone junior meet in Kochi, we were faced with the herculean task of managing things with our limited resources and we did well.

At present the Maharaja’s College synthetic track in Kochi is loaded with tournaments. We need another venue to host such highly-contested meets.

It is good for India as a whole that athletes of quality emerge from every nook and cranny. But Kerala, with such a proud lineage in athletics, must not fall behind. We have to build for the future and do it now.

Our athletes are naturally talented, but to outshine the others, they need to be taken care of well. The government should invest in athletics, because the returns are assured.Secretary of Kerala State Athletics Association

(As told to Kevin Kishore)

Onam songs leave a lump in the throat

M. Jayachandran

It's a crushing irony. Christian or Muslim or Hindu devotional songs have huge demand from the communities concerned, but no one is particular about an Onam song.

The number of festival songs that has come out in the last few years is not even five per cent of what used to be the output during the eighties and the nineties. I cannot blame them as the production of Onam songs is sure to lead to losses.

The change in the way we lead our lives today too must have something to do with the disappearance of Onam songs from our midst.

In the eighties and even in the nineties an Onam album had eight to nine songs and we had the time to not just listen but fondle the lyrics and melody. This was why we held them so close to our heart. Now we don't have the time. Well-known music director

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