Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Oommen Chandy
shares his thoughts on Non-resident Keralites
in the backdrop of PBD 2014.
Please elaborate on what were the benefits
of last year’s PBD for Kerala’s NRIs.
PBD is one of the main platforms for discussing
and raising problems etc. It was just fitting for
Kerala to host this big event, given its share of
expatriates, which is one of the biggest from
India. Mr. Vayalar Ravi the minister for Overseas
Indians took active interest in the event.
Following the PBD last year, we have formed
a Global Advisory Committee for Kerala.
Issues of amnesty returnees, those still in jail
after serving their term, financial assistance
to those unable to give compensation and
undergoing punishment in vehicle accidents,
providing legal assistance to those in need of
it and facilitate registration of Adhaar would
be some of the responsibilities of the advisory
committee. It would also be entrusted to take
efforts for realizing Air Kerala.
We also did a census of expatriate Keralites.
This was done as part of the sixth Financial
census, undertaken by the State’s Economics
and Statistics department. The Pravasi
Malayalee Census that began on 1st May 2013
was completed by July 15, 2013.
Please tell us a little about what the State is
doing for Kerala’s NRI Community
Kerala’s non-resident community is very
important for the State. Our concern is not
just for the role they play in our economy,
Oommen Chandy launched his Mass Contact Programme
on a wider scale in 2012, during his second tenure as chief
minister of Kerala. It was his firm belief that reaching out to
people and to understand their grievances first-hand will
strengthen the machinery of democratic governance. And he
did it with tremendous patience and resilience that saw him
spending about 19 hours a stretch at some of the venues of
the mass contact programme.
Following the first leg of the mass contact programme in
2012, the Government of Kerala was able to bring in suitable
changes in its administrative set up. Forty-five government
orders were issued. Some of the existing orders were
corrected; some got amended, while others got totally
replaced for ensuring effective, transparent administration
and for mitigating the hardships of the common man. And
it did not stop with 2012; he has done it again in 2013. In
between, Oommen Chandy was honoured with the United
Nations Public Service Award 2013 for his mass contact
programme, which underscored his unparalleled intervention
as an administrator.
Even though he has spent 42 years as a member of the
Kerala Legislative Assembly, his ministerial berth has been
around for eight years only. And he has not held an office for a
full term. But even in these short spells, his ability and talent
as an able administrator and statesman has always been
acknowledged. His decisions in his short tenures have become
milestones. As labour minister he granted unemployment
allowance to millions of educated unemployed of the State.
During his tenure as Home Minister, Oommen Chandy gave
a new image to the police force with an imaginative change
in their uniform. Even as finance minister, he had taken hard
decisions to get the economy back on track, when the State
went through a financial crunch.
His popularity and expertise gained momentum when he
was Chief Minister from August 2004 to May 2006. Since
then the State has been ringing the bell of development.
Some major initiatives he set rolling in that period were
the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment
Terminal, Vizhinjam International Seaport, Smart City, Metro
Rail at Kochi, Kerala State Transport Project for renovating
major roads in the State, Master Plan for developing
Sabarimala pilgrim centre, Kannur International Airport and
Expansion of Trivandrum International Airport. These major
infrastructure projects have the potential to catapult Kerala
to unprecedented levels of growth and development.
In his current tenure as chief minister all the above
mentioned projects picked up greater momentum and also
paved the way for new set of developments in the form of
Monorail projects at Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.
During the global connect event - Emerging Kerala 2012 -
Oommen Chandy came up with a path-breaking initiative in
the form of Student Entrepreneurship programme, backed
by a lot of concessions, enabling the youth to transform
themselves from job seekers to job providers.
A man who believes in simple living and high thinking,
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is a visionary statesman. He
has a pragmatic vision for Kerala that gives due importance
for development and care. So far, his political and social life
has been an interesting one. He was elected to the Kerala
Legislative Assembly for the first time from Puthuppally
constituency in 1970. Since then he has won ten times in a row
from this constituency!
but also for their well-being abroad. A large
number of Keralites are working outside
India, particularly in the Gulf areas. There,
some Keralites are very rich. But a large
number of working class is struggling to
keep their jobs and maintain their families.
The government of Kerala has put in place,
several projects meant for the welfare and
security of NRKs. Welfare fund, pension,
accident insurance up to Rs 2 lakhs,
Swanthana schemes are some of them. And
Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy has
instituted Pravasi Kalaratna and Pravasi
Kalasree awards to honour expatriate
artists, which is first of its kind in India.
Emerging Kerala 2012, the global connect
event also benefited non-resident Keralites,
apart from the global investors.
What is the message you want to send out
to the NRI community from Kerala?
My appeal to the non-resident Keralite
community is to make their next generation
connect with India, Kerala. They should
give them opportunities to get familiar and
experience the high values and the family
culture and respect and care for elders in their
motherland. They should with great pride
introduce their children to the country that
they were born and brought up.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy
A people’s man
Chief Minister Oommen Chandyisknownasmanofthemasses. His life revolves around people and their problems and the
lion’s share of his time is meant for resolving them. Oommen
Chandy widened the scope of his mass contact by holding it in all
districts of Kerala.