Corporate Social Negligence!

Buildings or Playgrounds? Let us vote…. (A debate about kerala)

Posted in Uncategorized by clash on May 10, 2008

I think my neighbors hate me because I still venture in to the old ground where children still manage to rake up some dust playing football and cricket. I was a regular there; I studied my lessons of football, cricket and kabbadi (a bit of all these with football being the loved) from that open space. A large portion of me mentally and physically existed there for quite a while in my life. It was an open space – privately held, largely neglected – around 1.75 acres. Though, it dint see the birth of an international athlete or a footballer, I am quite sure, most of the youngsters in around my neighborhood played and honed their skills there. To its credit, it can always boast a hoard of district league level footballers practicing there.

I strolled on to that same ground, when I visited home last weekend. I was choked, it is surrounded by concrete buildings on all possible sides – new and old alike they appeared to be some kind of monsters; up for gobbling something. On them perched all my neighbors with their vicious eyes carefully monitoring the kids and players, each time the ball rose high up in the air, they hurled derisive shouts. Ball games are always a menace, many a times the ball crosses forbidden borders, they break windows and cast huge dirt marks on the costly emulsion covered walls and at times knock you down with a blow. It won’t kill; I am sure it won’t.

These kind of cloistered grounds dot every corner and every village in Kerala. Open spaces like these serves as a measuring ground for the civic sense a literate Malayalee hold. The derisive comments that fling from the neighboring compounds may put your whole family lineage at stake. Right from great- grand fathers to you; no one is spared. If you are determined and don’t give a damn about this, some people even gather courage to spill broken glass pieces and metal shreds in the ground. People playing football rarely play without boots these days. They harass children by telling that they will complaint to the authorities. I am sure; the governmental agencies will be too keen to keep the kids scared.

Waste lands and dried up paddy fields have always catered to the needs of the local children as a play ground. Come summer and you will find loads of sports enthusiasts playing and watching games in these open spaces or at least this was a spectacle some years back. Space has drastically dwindled, waste lands have been encroached and paddy fields have been filled up for construction. It was a Houdini act, it just was disappearing, you could feel it, every other day space dwindling – another building eating up that precious space. The feeling was drab and cold, I felt the good air, and the visual peace and that happy feeling of an open sky were consumed by these buildings. A decade back or so, the neighboring house was a mile ahead from our compound’s boundary; today it is hardly 20 feet. I feel voyeur-ed and stripped; it feels horrible. I hear, there is something called a ‘land mafia” in Kerala, the word is omnipresent, it gleams in television, it is in print and in the radio. The minister, the local politician and my neighborhood barber laments about the mafia. But who are they? Are they the one who are gobbling up the space? If so, why aren’t they visible? It is a helpless situation, a situation where the kids are confined to concrete spaces; there are no games other than cycling on the tarred roads and street cricket or worse, the computer games that stifle any physical exercise.

This scorching summer is no difference; there are kids out in the sun, indefatigable and vivacious as ever. There are still a few, a few wretched of the earth wanting some space to sweat it out than being in the cool comforts of a concrete mansion. The mantra of a spotless, tan-less skin has not yet caught up with these children. It is not the same anymore, most of the wear proper football boots and jerseys. It is not anymore the era of shirts with names written with varnish or the left over window paint. Football is also not the same; there are more and more trickeries on the field. The kind of influence Christiano Ronaldo and Manchester united are mustering in the age of TV is astounding. But there is one thing that is missing – play grounds.

Here comes the Honorable (??) sports minister of Kerala, who during the inauguration of Vision India Program in Kozhikkode has rallied for securing 10,000 playgrounds and 1000 stadiums within 3 years of time. I don’t know what made him make such a comment, who prompted him? The ever lambasting and didactic intelligentsia in Kerala, have they recognized the need for play grounds? Will they ever publish articles in magazines quoting Derrida, Kant and Foucault analyzing the need for play grounds or will they dismiss it as another attempt of invasion by the flourishing culture industry? I am not too sure, but the Communist lineage which gives quite an emphasis on discipline and sporting activities is eroding for sure. Till now, the strong network of Government Schools provided the state with its share of sporting heroes. The Kerala state school Sports meet is a still a spectacle with intense media attention and evaluation. Again, Government schools are on the back foot; private schools are cropping up every where and we all know what happens to sports over there in these private schools.

Now that our young comrades in SFI have lost out completely to their elderly members who are lapping up with all the “community” honchos in deciding the future of education, they can very well take up this issue. Education is gone to the dogs, at least fight for some play grounds or prevent them from being gobbled up by the land mafia. A worthwhile cause to fight for and if the present government keeps their promise of securing 10,000 playgrounds and 1000 stadiums or at least half the number, I will vote for them hands down in the next elections.

Here is a crude poll, a crude one that might put all of you in trouble. But, i still think a play ground is better than a moronic concrete structure.

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