Wanted: Top Economists To Educate Kerala MLAs

Kochi, January 25: | Updated: Jan 26 2003, 05:30am hrs
The development bug has smitten the Kerala assembly Speaker Vakkom Purushoth-aman too. The 75-year-old former Lt Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Island is determined to beat even his party colleague and chief minister AK Antony in the business of development.

The Speaker will dig out money from the Assembly coffers to fly in top-notch economists from anywhere in the country to give investment lectures to its 140 MLAs during the ongoing Budget session of the Assembly which began on Friday. And as usual, the Speaker will be scrupulously impartial- If UDF asks for Jairam Ramesh, Ill invite him. If the LDF asks for any left economist, Ill leave no stone unturned to fly him in. I am open to suggestion from any party, offers the Speaker. At first, the school for MLAs may go babel, but never mind, the process of democracy may demand it, he says. Mr Purushothaman, whose father hails from a family of founders of schools and school teachers, should know all about education, whether for MLAs or not.

The specific relevance of the development schooling in the Budget session is that this is a session, where the states recent receipt of the first tranche of ADB loan and its first investor-hunting meet are likely to be discussed.

Mr Purushothaman, whose stubbornness had led to a noisy confrontation with media last year, is even willing to mend fences with media this time to win sympathies for the new cause to teach development ABCs to the framers of the states legislations. There is a new development climate in the politics here after the Global Investor Meet (GIM), says Mr Purushothaman.

The Speaker will also initiate a presentation of the Rs 7,000-crore Express Highway project adjacent to the Assembly floor, so that there will be no confusion on what is good for the state, he says.

It will be fatal for Kerala, if this healthy atmosphere is not approached with the proper knowledge of economy, development and investment, he said.

But then, the left is not fully taken in by the Speakers new development literacy overtures. CPM MLA Dr Thomas Isaac, himself a noted economist, openly wonders if understanding of the the nuts and bolts of economy can filter in after a session of lectures. However, perhaps, the Speakers spirit must be appreciated, he concedes.

The general reaction from the MLAs is that the literacy levels will stand them in good stead in absorbing the latest schools of thought in economics. Only, the political consensus bug, on which the Speaker has been pinning his school hopes, may no longer be alive. Unknown to Mr Purushothaman, at the time of his announcement of the economics classes plan, Keralas opposition leader VS Achuthandan had fired his first salvo at GIM.