Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A NOTE ON THE IMPACT OF DEMONETISATION IN INDIA. Prof. Joseph K Alexander, Chairman, KRB. IIPA Kerala. 2017

Prof. Joseph K Alexander, Chairman, KRB. IIPA Kerala. 2017  

The economy of India is the seventh-largest in the world measured by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity(PPP). India is a newly industrialised country, and one of the G-20 major economies, Despite a higher growth during Liberalisation, Globalisation and Privatisation of the economy in the 1990s and very low growth of 3.5 % during our economic planning period up to 1991. India had an average growth rate of approximately 7% over the last two decades,
Two major domestic policy developments of 2016-’17 is the passage of the Constitutional amendment, paving way for implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), {including its  implementation in July 2017} and the demonetisation of the two highest denomination notes with profound implications for the economy.
The background facts of demonetisation are impressive.
1.     India’s parallel economy created by black money; counterfeited Indian currency printed outside in enemy countries and smuggled in bulk consignments into India, hawala money brought by smugglers of contraband goods: gold and drugs
2.     Corruption wilfully encouraged by election- campaign fund seeking politicians and their agents, aiding bureaucrats, police, quotation mafia, and under links. Transparency International in their 2016 Report ranks India as the 130th worst corrupted of the 160 countries examined by them. Scandinavian countries -first and second- are the least corrupt among them.
3.     Prevalence of black money created through tax evasion by not reporting whole income or a part. Income is of two kinds. Well earned white money and ill-earned under the table income not reported to the Income Tax authorities.
4.     Un-earned income in all purchases by the Government authorities assisted by the bureaucrats in the different Ministries.
On November 8, 2016, the government “demonetized” two largest denomination notes, Rs 500 and Rs 1000, with immediate effect as part of . country’s  Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign). “While the supply of notes of all denominations had increased by 40% between 2011 and 2016, the Rs.500 and Rs. 1000 banknotes increased by 76% and 109% respectively in this period owing to forgery. This forged cash was being used to fund terrorist activities against India. Govt. deprived their legal tender status, At one stroke; 86 percent of the cash in circulation (of Rs. 16, 63,600 crores in Oct. 2016) , ie; Rs.14,30 696 was thereby rendered invalid.
There were two previous instances of demonetisation, in 1946 and 1978, the latter not having any significant effect on cash. India’s demonetisation in 2016 is unprecedented in international economic history, in that it combined secrecy and suddenness amidst normal economic and political conditions (no war, internal uprising or excessive issue of currency)
It has been a radical, unprecedented step with short term costs and long term benefits. The liquidity squeeze was so severe that the common man and daily wage earners suffered the most. India has given a new expression of unconventional monetary policy, with the difference that whereas advanced economies have focused on expanding the money supply, India’s demonetisation has reduced it; a “reverse helicopter drop”: suddenly lifting away 86 % of cash in circulation.
In conventional Keynesian economics monetary policy is to increase money supply to augment consumption and investment or reduce money supply, through the central bank and the banking system, to get the reverse effect to curb inflation or heating up of the economy. This Indian experiment is thoroughly unconventional:  blow or burn away 86% of the currency.
The benefits of Demonetisation itemised are:1. Curbing Black Money 2. Controlling Corruption 3. Creating a cashless transparent economy 4. Rise in Tax Receipts 5. Reduce artificial Investments in Real estate transactions 6. Inflow of more white money into banks. Rise in cash reserves (C R.around 6%) of  banks  enabling them to lend 16 times more of that amount.7. Reduction in rates of interest, rise in Investments and consequent growth of employment, consumption and GDP.
The cost or defects of demonetisation of 2016 raised by the public are:1. The long queues before all banks to file details and surrender illegalised money 2. “    “To withdraw the allowed paltry amount Rs. 2000/- from one’s own SB or current Account 3. Lack of cash to pay daily wages to workers. Even corporate offices found difficulty in convincing workers with cheque payments.4. Sudden decrease in consumption demand of the people shattered the traders and distributers of wares and services of all kinds. Even Out- Patient-departments of most of the hospitals remained idle or closed. 5. Decrease of production in agriculture and allied activities in primary sector, industrial sector and service sector causing a sudden drop in GDP and its growth rate. Farm income suddenly decreased. 6. Fear and anxiety of the public of the repetition of the 1998 international crash of economies. 7. Decrease in employment of immigrant labour and their return to home states of Orissa, M.P. Bengal, Etc; disrupting local economics.8. Cash intensive parts of the economy suffered the most. 9. Remonetisation was so slow and highlighted incompetence of planning the demonetisation project.
 By industry, the most important and the fastest growing sector of Indian economy are 1. services with more than 60 percent of GDP:  Trade, hotels, transport and communication, financing, insurance, real estate and business services and community, social and personal services. 2. Agriculture, forestry and fishing constitute around 12 percent of the output, but employs more than 50 percent of the labour force. 3. Manufacturing accounts for 15 percent of GDP, 4. construction, another 8 percent and 5. mining, quarrying, electricity, gas and water supply for the remaining 5 percent. We may examine the detailed effects of demonetisation on these sectors and people engaged in them.
Sudden stopping of cash payment made demanders and suppliers of goods and services equally stunned causing a decrease in their contribution to the GDP. Agriculture and crops languished for want of agro-care. Many of the farmers failed to repay banks and were declared bankrupt resulting in farmer suicides. In short, GDP from the five sectors dipped.
Eight months passed since the demonetisation. Despite remedial actions the defects still persist and refuse to vanish. Forged Money is yet imported and printed in India. Black money is still being created despite the increased intervention of the income tax authorities  to curb tax evasion.Total amount of black money has been estimated to be only 6% of the currency in circulation. So such a sudden demonetisation with so great sufferings of the society was unwarraented. Corruption is rampant, and the unearned income is still being extracted from all major suppliers of goods and services to the Govt. Dept.s and PSUs.
The public debate on demonetisation raised three sets of questions:
 First. Its management. Broader aspects of management, as reflected in the design and implementation of the initiative. Govt. was unprepared for the heavy demand for legal currency. Lack of enough planning in the supply of new currency caused untold misery and suffering of the public. Second, its economic impact in the short and medium run was not very positive. The colossal and massive sufferings of the people   and its negative impact on the GDP and personal income of the people warrant quantification. It will be gigantic. Third, its implications for the broader vision underlying the future conduct of economic policy and the expected benefits highlighted above This deserve detailed analysis of Fiscal- Monetary Policies and Administrative strategies.
Apart from forged currency or hawala money, Cash can be understood along two dimensions: its function and its nature. In terms of function, cash is a medium of exchange (for transactions) or as a store of value (Milton Freidman and the Chicago School of Economists) like other forms of wealth such as gold and real estate. In terms of nature, cash can be illicit or not. Function and nature are quite distinct. For example, cash used as a store of value could be white (the savings that all households keep for an emergency), while cash used for transactions could be black (if it was earned through tax evasion and / or corruption).
 Most black money is earned through perfectly legal activities. In most cases, this income becomes black solely because it has not been declared to the tax authorities. The higher the amount of cash in circulation, greater the amount of corruption, is the measurement result conducted by Transparency International.
Remedy is to reduce cash payments and encourage financial intermediation through cheques and other innumerable financial instruments. Transparency and automatic entry of all transactions in the Income tax returns can curb many of these evils. A number of similar follow-up actions including fast, demand-driven, remonetisation would minimize the costs and maximise the benefits of demonetisation..

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Prof Joseph K Alexander Chairman , IIPA Kerala Regional Branch
Inaugural speech At he Seminar at The NSS College for Women -
 Karamana -07-10-2016.

When a group of beings; animals or men happen or decide to live together there arise the need for dos and don’ts so that the elbow of one does not hit at the nose of another. This is a Universal truth applicable even to the planets, stars and galaxies. Every one of them moves in their own orbit as per rules of the Universe or God. In human society this is more necessary. Unlike animals or shoals of fish which move under the natural ethics and morality instinct endowed in them, man has an additional capacity – the freewill. So ethics and morality rules may be violated by men. Imposition of moral rules is a necessity in every human society: more so in healthier wealthy so called civilised societies.
In the formation of a state there is a social contract says the theorists Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. Every individual has to sacrifice a part of his absolute sovereignty to the state so that it emerges powerful to protect them from internal squabbles and external attacks. So the state maintains a police force or army. To maintain peace the state insists on certain rules and regulations. Thus rules- dos and don’ts emerge not only in political but also in religious groups.  In Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia, Plato’s Ideal State, religious groups like Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Mahabharata and Ramayana etc there are rules for the maintenance of a peaceful society . God gave Ten Commandments to Moses. Githa specify the real duty or role of man in this life.
In the early stages of the formation of the state every citizen strictly follows the ethical and moral rules of the society like “puthanachi”. Later with more peaceful, secure and leisurely life they tend to neglect them. As in dialectics the peace generates its own antithesis of distrust. Now the important issue discussed all over is how to enforce ethics and morality in governance of modern states..  
We had direct democracy in Athens and Sparta of Greek History. Since our population and land area of most of the states are large unlike them, we copied Parliamentary Democracy of Briton. In the early stages parties had difficulty in getting candidates to represent each county / constituency. .They were to be persuaded to stand for election. Now even in Briton suitors are cringing before political leaders for candidature because of fringe benefits and under the table black money income. In India we have multi-party system and now coalitions of them to govern us.

Page 2

Our Parliamentary constituencies have more than ten lakhs of voters. To reach them within a fortnight after the declaration of the election date, each candidate require huge amounts of money which no one can muster for himself. True, the political party will give some which will not be enough to meet his needs. Business corporations and magnates with vested interest seek the candidates with funds to finance them. If he is elected he has to repay the debt by resorting to corrupt  out of the methods. This corruption is the greatest bane in parliamentary system of government. Despite it is far better than monarchy, dictatorship, autocracy and all other forms of governance.
Corruption is the greatest curse in civil society. Corruption exist all over the World in different degrees Tranparency International in their study says that of the  173 countries examined, India is now 75th in the group of less corrupted countries.
India has taken many initiatives to strengthen our ethical and moral frame work; some of them are:

Code of Conduct for Ministers and Civil Servants, accountability to parliament, Right to Information Act, creation of Lokpal, Lokayuktas, Vigilance Commission, National Investigative Agency, right to public service delivery act and so on..Despite they are all ineffective in curbing corruption.

In the wake of the two World Wars and despite the creation of UNO, World Bank and other international bodies, distrust and wars were happening in many parts of the World. So in 1960s the Club of Rome was created and financed by the international community to find a method to establish peace in the Word. After a detailed study of the World situation the club created a formula ZPG= ZEG. This club was later closed and one leader of them Herman Khan joined as leader of another think tank in Hudson Institute in USA. Someone asked him that World Peace is not anywhere near and the resources of the World are being depleted so fast that the future is bleak. Then Khan replied that human ingenuity is such that he can jump over any hurdle that emerges. Like-wise whatever rules and regulations are passed or implemented, man’s ingenuity can jump over to fatten his pocket with corrupted under-the table transactions..Yet creation of as many watch dogs as possible is a necessity to generate awareness of the need for ethics and morality in governance.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Dear Prof. Alexander,
"Another which distinguished our family in the earlier social history was generous, kind and just treatment extended to untouchables and labourers, who suffered deprivations in the caste –ridden past. An interesting anecdote about vadukas and Kanianthra Ninan Chandy Tharakan bears testimony to this."
Would you kindly tell me what this testimony was?

This incident is briefly referred to in my English edition of the KANIANTHRA FAMILY HISTORY PUBLISHED on Jan 1st 2000. That is an abridged international edition of the original book in Malayalam published in 1991. My website KANIANTHRA FAMILY SITE- Home page – last pages contain Family Traits- you can read the incident-- there in brief.
The incident happened in the life of Nina Chandy Tharakan   1735-1800 and his son Chandy Kunju Thommy Tharakan-1765-1822 A D, my ancestors. Our ancestors were much ahead of the times in their approach towards the down trodden untouchables mainly because of their Christian tradition and teachings.

The son married Pallikadavil Annamma. The new bride hardly 10 or 11 years old –as was the custom--came into a large family of her husband AND FATHER-IN- LAW.-Besides the  family members there were another forty vaduka family members- over a hundred of them including women and their children-. Loitering in the house and AND were being fed at the meal times.
ANNAMMA GOT DISGUSTED  in pushing around  in the welter of Vaduka women and children  AND  went to her home declaring that she will return only after these Vaduka families were settled elsewhere in their own huts.
Vaduka is the name given to pulaya- pariah dalits working for their master and got converted to .Christianity. They and their women work in the family paddy farms and coconut groves and earn their food. Their children get free meals from the master.
Chandy Kunju Thommy Tharakan in two years time got these Vadukas settled in separate huts on his lands in the village. Annamma immediately returned to her husband for their family life.
Prof. Alexander

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


IIPA Seminar paper- presented on 05-12-2015 in the Anchal College  Seminar hall as inaugural lecture.
Kerala culture over its centuries of history is one of compromise and consensus. The historical vein of its Politics since the formation of the Kerala State has two veins: socio-political-economic one up-man ship of religious oriented communities and conflictive politics in day-to-day encounters of the two political coalitions LDF and UDF. The recent LSG elections has projected a new fighter into the arena ; the BJP augmenting its strength by the offer of support by Sri Vellappalli Natesan’s BGDS claiming adherence of the entire Ezhava community, KPMS and other dalits. This new contender may bring a compromise of the two former warring LDF & UDF to project a joint programme and platform. Possibilities of Development will continue to be bleak as long as the conflictive politics exist. In other words, Development will be speedy only when the political parties join to put a common front against all opposing caucuses and hindrances as in the neighbouring States.
Kerala, God’s own country, is famous for compromises, fusion of cultures, races, languages, religions, beliefs and new ideas that creep into its geographical area. The native  believers of “nature –gods” compromised with the Aryan personified gods, Rama-Vishnu-Maheswara  trio and their Ramayana, Mahabharatha stories;  just as the Buddhists, Jains,  Egyptians, Romans, Aryans, Cretans, Greeks,  Assyrians,  Jews and Chinese attracted by our exotic spices traded , mingled, married and fused  into our historical milieu.
Consensus even in political ideology is our history.  Kerala is the home of coalition Govts. Sri C. Achutha Menon successfully coordinated it in his Govt of 1970-1977. In Kerala, it is difficult for a single party to contest and win even a single seat, because the voter perception is towards voting for a front. It became a model for the rest of the country including the Central Govt.. Kerala politics devolved through two strains of practises of One-upmanship and Conflictive politics.

One-upman ship
The Christian community though only 16-17 % of Kerala Population of the state (Along with the powerful Latin community (4.25%).) was getting an upper hand in the society because of Christian Missionaries who came with western colonialism and English education in the 18th century.
Rani Lakshmi Bai appointed Col. Munro, resident representative of the British Empire –as Dewan (1811-1814) of Travancore State.   Col. Munro a non- catholic protestant Christian- fascinated by the Syrian Christians wanted to help them. His idea was to make them later adherents of his religion.  He supported their Pulikottil Joseph Remban who masterminded English education in the State by starting the Orthodox Theological Seminary (Old Seminary) in 1815.   Munro persuaded Rani to give land and money to Remban, who  became Malankara Metran in 1815. He soon passed away) . His successors particularly Pulikottil Joseph II Mar Divanasios (Head of the Church for 44 years, 1865-1909)started and encouraged parishes and individuals to start schools all over the Malankara Church.
This education in English medium became a springboard for that community to  Govt. employment and entrepreneurship in plantations and SS industries, migration to Ceylon, Malaysia, Burma and even S.Africa in search of employment . This made them (the Syrian Christians) to regain their social superiority – lost during the Portuguese colonialism. They became relatively prosperous and cognisable entity in Kerala politics. They had innumerable Schools, Colleges and health centres in the pre 1956 decades.
 The venerable leader of the Nair community (13 % of the population) Sri. Mannathu Padmanbhan  preached and persuaded the Nair community to emulate Christians. He started Colleges and hospitals. The formation of the Nair Service Society (NSS) gave them natural leadership in Kerala politics,. With the leadership of Sri Narayana Guru - social and religious reformer-   Ezhavas  (23%) got the impetus to organise a powerful lobby . This SNDP during the chief minister ship of Sri R. Sankar ventured into starting Colleges and hospitals for one-upmanship in Kerala society and politics.  Muslim Community‘s (26%) followed, by starting Muslim Educational Society (MES) and their Colleges and schools. They are now pushing their community to be the topmost in all spheres..Ayyankali’s  Pulaya Community also organised their KPMS and are waging for their rightful place in Kerala politics like other smaller communities. This competitive one-upmanship uplifted social awareness and human development index (HDI) of Kerala on the basis of literacy, longevity and per capita income (PCI). one upmanship proved to be a boon in the onward march of Kerala
Kerala Political parties were Indian National Congress (State version merged in) and its splinter group Communist Party. The competitive one-upmanship created many divisions within these two. Now no single party can win even one seat in the elections. Therefore, they coalesce into groups at the time of election and form two opposing fronts UDF and LDF. Once voted to power, parties in each front continue their in fight in each group to get seats in the ministry.  .
 Conflictive politics.
Since 1970s Politics in Kerala is dominated by two coalition fronts: the Communist Party of India(Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Indian National Congress  led United Democratic Front (UDF), alternatively  succeeding the ruling coalition in the general  five year periodic elections. In the 2011 elections, the constituents of these fronts were as follows.
Indian National League - Supported LDF -Won 1 Seat
·        Indian National Congress
·        Indian Union Muslim League
·        Kerala Congress (Mani)
·        Kerala Congress (Jacob)
·        Kerala Congress (Secular)
·        The number of Janathipathya Samrakshana Samithy
·        Communist Marxist Party

Source -internet

CPM is a cadre party. Any who violate its regulations are forced out or liquidated. To retain the ranks and their morale they conduct regular propaganda and virtual meetings, samarams and dharna against real or fake issues. They do it even for outmoded mores of living in the pretext of protecting the livelihood conditions of the working class. Bar license corruption, Sarita- Biju Ramesh Solar case, management- labour issues and corruption of the UDF/ LDF parties are only a few sample issues. . For increasing readership, media of all hues fan the flame and keep the society on toes.
 On the other hand, UDF is a loose federation. Aaya Rams and gaya rams even on very silly issues is their nature. Their propaganda machinery is weak and in- fights of the components are frequent. This make it a weak  front. Muslim league and one or two Kerala congress groups alone are steady in their support of the front. Small splinter groups in Kerala Congress is still undecided as to whether they are left or right
 Corruption in the form of collection for election campaigning is there in both fronts. Candidates have to meet their voters over ten to fifteen lakhs with in 14 to 18 days before the election. Therefore, they resort to all modern expensive methods of campaigning. In LDF, the collection is more centralised than in the UDF where each individual collect funds for his own election dues.  
Both fronts appeal to the main vote banks -the lower middle class and the poor. More over each front want to outdo the opposition in offering social development and amelioration programmes so that the political manifesto of both fronts looks alike. Situational exigencies force them to do so.  Therefore, Kerala is projected as a state with left oriented politics—whether true or not?

Each front when sitting as the opposition decries the programmes being implemented by the ruling front as useless or being wrongly done or its terms and conditions are detrimental to the society. Their aim is to prevent the ruling front doing it and want them to be postponed so that the credit and peripherals can be reaped when they come into power in the ensuing election.
Because of this conflictive politics, each front when in power try to outdo the previous Government in their promises.. This overdoing  has led Kerala to the brink of economic disaster as faced by Mrs. Thatcher (1970-1990) of  Conservative party of England in the 1980s  It is the in-pouring of remittances of our expatriates from  outside  and Gulf countries (Rs. 72,680 cr in 2013-14) that keep the bubble of well being in shape.
A third party that emerged in the recent (2015) LSG election in Kerala is the BJP. It had been there in a very low profile. Now it is in power at the centre in Delhi and hence was able to wrench a sizable portion of the vote bank. BJP with militant RSS support is also a cadre party. It is projected as a Hinditua Party with communal oriented programmes.  Kerala has a tradition of secular politics and is famous for its communal harmony exemplified by the Hindu Temple, Muslim Mosque and Palayam Christian Church as a tripod in the heart of Trivandrum city. Such sites one can see in many other parts of Kerala. The religious harmony and toleration shown by each in the religious festivals is exemplary and emulatable.The Hindu rulers of the past gave land and money to other communities to put up their worship centres. The emergence of BJP into this harmony and tolerance may create disharmony .Moreover the CPM and militant BJP cadre parties may aggravate the conflictive politics into street clashes and disruption of the famous communal harmony of Kerala..
BJP with Vellappalli Natesan’s new BGDS of the Ezhava Community has created askance in others. With the emergence of this new opposition in the election arena, LDF & UDF having programmes that are more common may suppress their differences to oppose the new enemy. Thus, there can be a consensus to that extant in Kerala Politics.
Yet there is another possibility of a new kind of communal clashes spear headed by Hindus of BJP and non-Hindus of LDF led other communal groups. Still another possibility is that CPM may adopt a new policy of appeasing the Hindu religious oriented communist followers. Religion was taught by communists as opium of the masses to be abhorred. The CPM may now fear that BGDS support of the BJP may attract its Hindu ranks to BJP-BGDS coalition. Therefore, CPM may do a political somersault to appease Hindu ranks by permitting them to actively involve in the religious ceremonies of Hindu temples.
Economic Development is not mere Economic Growth in GDP or PCI .Changes in the mores and modes of production; change in the life style of the community must accompany. A typist must transform into a DTP expert, or a net casting angler must become a fish boat hauler of the sea belly or the hoe tiller must turn up as driver of a tractor or combine harvester. Such changes will not only increase phenomenally his income but also change the life style. That is Economic Development
 Therefore, Economic Development involves change from the old worldly traditional cumbersome and less productive to modern mechanised highly productive processes leading to much higher income. It is true that the typist has to undergo a short course in DTP or the angler learns boat driving and hauling the net in the sea etc. This type of change is the essence of Economic Development. Those who oppose this change on whatever pretext or ideology are  against Eco. Development.. 
When a farmer first introduced tractor tilling in Chathankery Puncha (upper Kuttanad, Kerala) in the 1950s , there was a clash between the  supporters  and opposers of change. One was beaten up and killed. When computer was introduced in the Govt Secretariat  Trivandrum, there was  strikes and samaram by one party. They were trying to obstruct Economic Development. They were like the Ludite revolutionaries (1811-1816), of England in the beginning of Industrial revolution. (( Ned Lud opposed technological changes. His group  went around and destroyed newly introduced mechanical looms)) Those who oppose technological changes and changes in traditional  life styles pull back onward march of humanity to improved and better life patterns. History prove that it is the technological revolution like invention of steam power, of electricity, of information technology, of nano  mechanics that made economic growth and modern civilisation possible.
Now the Vizhingam harbour constructions are being launched. Leaders of the coastal people oppose it on the ground that they will lose their employment and life style.  If that community and we want to reap the benefits of that mega project we have to change from our former life style to new like sewerages, transport of goods, handling  the containers  and earn a much higher income. Changes in technology create temporary unemployment for a few and  create millions on new types of employment. Society benefit by many fold increase in  jobs and income .Opponents to changes will enter into history as the Ludite revolutionaries of 21st century. It is this attitude and the conflictive politics that made Kerala to be 25 years behind the advanced States in India.

It is not ideological differences between the LDF & UDF that stall the economic development. The one-upmanship competition prompts them to oppose any project or programme of the ruling front and give imaginative idealistic unworkable projects and programme promises. They include them in the ensuing election manifesto and electioneering propaganda. Thus, ongoing projects are stalled. Once the same opposition win the election and are in power, they try to undertake the same projects they opposed; they implement and reap the benefits. The conflictive politics of Kerala has a twofold aim:1.  Defeat the ruling party,2.  Reap, and collect the benefits and advantages to themselves. No political coalition is exempt from this strategy. The mega projects get delayed for decades and are executed over a long period at phenomenally exorbitant cost over the years. In most other Indian states electioneering contests of political parties end with election. When development of the state is on stake, they join to make the project completed successfully and within time. No wonder that Chennai, Maharashtra, Gujarat  Punjab  etc .are far ahead of Kerala in implementation of infrastructure projects.
In conclusion it can be said that despite the very high HDI , literacy, knowledge ability, communal harmony and extremely suitable environment and educated labour availability, quick economic development of Kerala is doubtful. The conflictive politics has the other side. It may bring some sort of consensus between the warring LDF & UDF to fight the communal agenda of the BJP and .Natesan’s BGDS.

Friday, November 13, 2015


Kerala and Poverty

Prof. Joseph K Alexander
Recently I read an article about poverty in Kerala. It argues that it is a majour concern
and warrant social and economic changes to eliminate it. Eliminating poverty is a mirage
It exist even in the richest society. It is a relative concept. Moreover there is another view
about poverty in Kerala. A couple of decades ago I was introduced to Air vice Marshall
K. A. Joseph in his coupe in the train journey from Ernakulam to Trivandrum. A fortyone
day old strike in Aluva FACT was on. We in our discussions came to this topic. The
Marshall who had seen India in his wide travels said that such a long strike will not
happen in any other part of India. Kerala is God’s own country. Every inch of it is fertile
and produce edible fruits, roots, leaves and meat. Hence even if none of these exist in
your homestead, they are there in the neighbor’s plot of land. Except destitutes, no one
knows the real pinch of hunger in Kerala. Staying power enables the Kerala strikers to
continue it endlessly.
Poverty is a state of the mind. It is an experience of not having; not getting what you
want; what you have a right to get. .Basic needs of life like food, shelter and clothing are
examples. The assumptions are potable water and pollution free air is freely available.
The reality is that they too are now costly. Water cost Rs. 10 a bottle and to get fresh air
you have to incur the cost to go to Sea shores or Silent valley like forests.
Those who do not get enough income to purchase even the basic needs to keep soul and
body together should be said to suffer abject poverty. All others, except monks and
abstinence practitioners, encounter only relative poverty. Economic wants are
necessaries, comforts and luxuries. With increase in income of the consumer, comforts
escalate into necessaries and luxuries into comforts. In Kerala electric fans have become
necessary and motor cars and mobile phones have slided into comforts.
Physical needs like minimum food, clothing, shelter and sex are easily satisfied. The rest
are psychological needs. Full satisfaction of them is impossible. A feeling of not getting
wants is relative poverty. This can be due to the relatively very low income of the
individual or awareness that he has a right to get them and not getting them or again an
understanding that others relatively have and enjoy them.
The pinch of such poverty depends on the percentile income band of a social group vis-avis
of the individual’s income. A person getting a higher income than that of those in a
group can maintain a higher level of consumption pattern and feel himself to be very rich.
If the same person moves his residence to a higher income group locality, his
consumption basket is relatively less than that of others in the group. He realizes that he
is poorer. He suffers relative poverty. Such poverty exist at all times and in all societies
and countries; rich and poor.
One who practices abstinence in his wants for short or long periods, as monks do, they do
not experience poverty. During lent periods or Ramadan month those who practice them
do not consider them to be suffering from poverty.
In the light of these facts “below poverty line” (BPL) concept looses its significance.
BPL and APL (“above poverty line”) are conceptual attempts to measure the number of
poor who require anti-poverty help. It is calculated by the minimum income necessary to
consume 2500 calorie of food per day. This income varies with the price level. Those
who have that income are APL and others come in the BPL category. When India became
independent more than 50 % of the population was in the BPL group. The Planning
Commission of India claims that because of economic planning and the resultant
economic growth income has increased. Now only 28 % or around alone are in the BPL
group. But many argue that BPL calculation criteria must be changed. With growing
income, literacy and awareness, the criteria must be enlarged to include good food,
decent shelter, clothing, health care and education facilities, freedom of expression etc;
If this is adopted, more than 60 % of the population will come under the BPL category.
This calculation of BPL in the light of the provision of food security for all in India is a
current topic. Central Government is for Targeted Public Distribution of food materials
only to the BPL families, because of the heavy subsidies involved. States like Kerala
insist on ration card supply of subsidized food to all in the State. Kerala has this system
for decades. The problem is that the State has to bear the extra cost of the subsidy or limit
rationing to BPL families. .If universal rationing is not possible, at least make the BPL
criteria broader to include more families in. This will enable the State to get more
subsided ration food from the Central Government and thus reduce the subsidy burden of
the State Government.
Poverty is caused by low or no income. It can be further clasisified into Destitutional,
Conjectural and Mass poverty. Poverty of the destitutes is due to lack of love and care or
no income. Their rehabilitation is more effective in thbe hands of the voluntary NGOs
than the bureaucratic machinery of the State. Conjectural poverty arise due to inadvertent
maladies like earth quakes, flood war destruction and the like misshapenness. In this case
massive transfer of resources from those who have income to the victims can be arranged
by the State and NGOs. . Here again servicing the aid will be better done and without
corruption by voluntary and philanthropic NGOs. Mass poverty is often due low
economic development of the country / society. In this case heavy investment by the
Government on infrastructure, agriculture, industrial production and rural and urban
employment schemes alone can provide more income and economic development to the
unemployed mass.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


NIRANAM GRANDHA VARI is the First History book of the Mlankara Orthodox Church written in Malayalam. It is a diary or chronicle of the events in the life of Malankara Metropolitan Marthoma VI (1745-1808) and short sketches about early Christian history from Adam & Eve to the Antiochan attempts to supremacy in Malankara church and short references up to 1847.  It is presumed to be written by a Deacon/ secretary of the Metropolitan. Some researchers think that it may have been Rev.Dn. Kanianthra Thommy Chandy ordained by him. He was the main nurse in the last days of the Metropolitan and was ordained a priest in 1808 by Marthoma VII. Rev Fr. Thommy Chandy stayed on in the Niranam church for some years as the vicar and managed the entire Church during the succession periods of Marthoma Metrans VII, VIII and IXth.  His successor in the family was Rev. Nina Chandy Corepiscopa who also was a celibate and stayed in the churh till 1910 when he was called to Mepral as vicar of St. John’s parish church. All his belongings might have included this palm leaf history. Anyway we found it in the 1930s in our Grandhapura (library) of our old house. Late Kanianthra Mr. K J. Ninan took it to Theological Seminary, Chitramezhuth Varghese, Edamaraku, K M Mammen Mapila of Manorama and others. Summaries of it were made by some of them
The  Thaliola Grandham came to my hand from K. J. Ninan’s son. I got it transcripted in readable Malayalam on paper   by experts from the Kerala Uty Manuscript library. I entrusted it to Malankara Sabha editor Fr. T. G Scaria for publication by the Malankara Church. Sri Paul Manalil got it from Scaria Achen and published two books one in Malayalam & another in English. But the real annotated research book on Niranam Grandhavari is the one produced with my permission by Dr. M. Kurien Thomas
The Niranam Grandhavari contains references about Kanianthra  Chandy Nina Tharakan (died .1774), Nina Chandy Tharakan ( 1735-1800), his son Kunju Thommi Tharakan (1765-1822) who played important role in the Coonan Kurisu Sathyam, preserving independence of the Church against Antiocahan incursions etc.

This is the realation between Kanianthras and Niranam Grandha Vari. We still continue on the footsteps of our predecessors in being with The Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan. END


(27 July 2014, Kottayam)
Joseph K Alexander

I came into the MGOCSM as a school student, through the advice of my father and teachers of the Thiruvalla MGM High School, Mr. C O Oommen and Mr. C M John. Both were General Secretaries of MGOCSM. After attending the 1942 Annual Conference at Thiruvalla Balikamadom GHS and the 1944 Conference as a religious retreat-ant at the M D Seminary Elias Chapel my further education and employment lead me out of Travancore. The return in 1966 to the University College Trivandrum as HOD of Economics and principal of Government College, Kottayam in 1972, prompted H G Philipos Mar Theophilos, President, to reinvent and induct me back into the MGOCSM. Since then, I am in the Movement in one or another official capacity and a resource person.

Knowing the Movement and the nature of its work from the days Rev. Dn. K. Philipos (later H G Philipos Mar Theophilos) was its General Secretary in 1942. and through the period of its Presidents; H.G. Philipose Mar Theophilos, H G Philipos Mar Eusebius, and H G Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, present President who joined the Movement as a young Deacon and General Secretaries; Mr. Philipos Thomas, Rev Fathers P C Cherian, George Kurien, John Thomas, Dr M C Cherian, .Dr. V.M Abraham and now Rev Fr. Dr.Varghese Varghese. I felt it my duty right and honour as a senior member, to be an active volunteer in the Movement.

As Senior Vice President of the MGOCSM for 11 years (1978-“89), its director of the Trivandrum Complex and hostel 19 years (1983-2002), Chairman of the constructions at Trivandrum center second phase 1983-1985  and  member of the CHAIROS Committee 2004- 2012, I did what I could for the Movement. The prestigious Education Orientation Course of the MGOCSM, 1981, its journal 2004-2006, and Website 2004-2007 were started by me with support of its President Thirumenis. Currently I am the Treasurer of MGOCSM from 2002.

I, Retd. Director, Collegiate Education, Kerala Govt. Service is an economist. Was President of the Kerala Dhana Sasthra Academy 1970-1972, Head of the Department of Economics of the Victoria College, Palghat 1962-1966, HOD of the University College Trivandrum 1966-1972, Founder-principal of Govt. College, Kottayam, 1972-1980, member of the Kerala University Senate 1961-1964 and Academic Bodies1965-1983; Hon-Director of the prestigious Christian Study Center of Kerala University1994-1996 and research fellow of University Grants Commission1983-1987. I have published ten books and 20 research papers. Was emeritus professor of economics in the Marthoma St. Thomas College, Kozenchery1985-1987; was examiner and expert member in the PSC of Kerala and Karnataka States, Southern Railway Board, New India Assurance Company, and Staff selection of PSC and Private Colleges in Kerala. After retirement; was a Faculty Member of the Civil Service Academy, Trivandrum for over a decade, was a member of the MOC official bodies including the Church Planning Committee, member of the Corporate Colleges and later of the Schools Governing Bodies of the Church and  three times Chief Election Officer of the Malankara Association of MOC, I am now active as chairman of Kerala Regional Branch of Indian Institute of Public Administration from 2004 and member of its Executive council at Delhi. Being a founder member of the Mar Gregorios Rehabilitation Center Munnammoodu Trivandrum in 1981, is its Vice President for the last couple of decades. I have been a resource person for most of the projects started by the then new Bishop H G Geevarghese Mar Dioscorus of the new Trivandrum Diocese of the MOC in the last quarter of last Century from 1980. His Graces” English Medium School, Disabled children’s home  at Alathra, Marion Play Home originally at kanaka Nagar, Bishop’s house and  Chapel at Ullur, sfferts to start a Junior College at Alathra hills which later blossomed into the Pharmacy college are all examples.
A galaxy of eminent leaders nurtured the MGOCSM in its hundred years from 1908. Despite, it has an irregular history. In some of the years it blossomed like a fresh flower in youth, well watered, weeded and nourished by the mentors; and in others, it looked as if, about to wither for want of their involvement. In the days of H G Philipos Mar Theophilos the Movement developed many wings and branches and Rev Fr P C Cherian took it to outside Kerala to cities of India. He made it a National Movement. In the days of H G Philipos Mar Eusebius the Movement became international especially through the efforts of the President, General Secretary Rev. Fr. M C Cherian and the Education Orientation Fraternity who started units of MGOCSM in churches in every part of the World where they worked. The present President H G Geevarghese Mar Coorilos is spreading the Movement to more Indian areas outside Kerala to take its message to all the diaspora by organizing its Annual conferences in different parts of India
.During my heavy duty as founder principal of the Kottayam Govt. College, I contributed all my spare moments for the growth of the Movement. I thank all the Presidents, General Secretaries, Executive Committee members and the General Assemblies of the Movement, its Officers and managers of its various wings for the hearty co-operation they rendered to my role in the MGOCSM and giving me all help in writing its history of 100 years. I will be ninety on 25th November 2014. Recently I had difficulty in travelling from TVM to Kottayam to attend the meetings of the Movement or take active role in its work more because of the illness of my wife. She and my children were a great support for enabling me to work in all social services I ventured. Besides you all, I thank them also for their cooperation in making my work easy. May I now appeal to all of you to work hard and contribute your might to make MGOCSM an effective arm of MOC all over the World? I Pray to God to shower blessings on all of you.  
My mentors:
1.     K A Mathew , Principal  & Head Master , St. John’s shool. Mepral        
2.     C. M John
3.     C O Oommen
4.      Vennikulam Gopala Kurup
5.     Unnonny Tharakan
6.     K A Mathew , Teachers of M G M  High School Thiruvalla, 
7.     Rev. Dn. And later H G Philipos Mar Theophilos
8.     Rev.  Fr. M C Cherian & later H G Sachaias Mar Theophilos
9.     Rev Fr. John Thomas  Secretary MGOCSM
10.   H G Baselios Marthoma Mathews  Catholicos
11.   H G Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews  Catholicos
12.   Re. Dn George Kurien & later Secretary and then H G Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, President of MGOCSM
13.   Rev Ft. P M Eapen Vicar Se. George’s Church Trivandrum
14.   Rev. Fr. Alexander Vaidyan   Do
             And many like these gurus who implanted in me their behavior patterns which made me what I am. Some of them were far younger than me  but with emulatable characters. I thank all of them nd place them before God for heavenly rewards.
Prof. Joseph K Alexander; DOB-25-11-1924;
TC 14/2144, Kanianthra, PRA. B.20- Medes Lane. Palayam TVM-695034.
Spouse        : Annamma Joseph; House Wife; DOB-29-01-1927
Phone         0471-2321955;    Mobile--9447811811
Children      1. Alex Jose F C A; Retired from Bahrain
2 Stephen Jose Bsc Agr.; MEP-IIM-Ahmedabad; Retd
3. Alexy Jose F C A (daughter); Director General Finance, Keltron TVM.