Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Pirates of Malabar [52/365]

Kollam, a sleepy town in the southern State of Kerala, is a town where her people are street smart yet naive. Like any other district in Kerala her people wouldn't mind traveling 5 hours a days if that means working in a dead end government job with lots of 'benefits'. A town where you can still live a fantastic life with Rs 5000 (approx $100).
I've seen this sleepy fishing hamlet metamorphose into a town and then a city while struggling to retain it's roots.
While Kollam has managed to gain notoriety for a lot a reasons in the past couple of years, the morning of 15th february was going to bring the limelight back to herself.

Unnatural death sells news. Always.
In this case, we have an Italian super-tanker passing through international waters mistaking a motorized fishing boat and its unarmed crew to be armed pirates, firing and killing two fishermen (Read the headline-making news here). 
While we can safely predict that this will soon become a Malayalam super hit movie in a few years, possibly starring aging Mollywood's Arnold Schwarzenegger - Suresh Gopi, we need to sit back, lay down that newspaper, close our eyes and think.

We have a weakened Italy, that has been battered, bruised and begging for Euros fighting India on technicalities.
Ofcourse, India is no saint herself but most Indians are too stiff lipped to admit that we need to be graceful in dealing with these killer Marines.
But again, that's not the point either.
I am amused at how swift the government, the judiciary and the executive has been in apprehending and bringing the visibly disturbed killers to justice. While we ignore the pleas and the suffering of the millions who are either killed by civic apathy, prosecuted by archaic rules, or those who are simply homeless because the government is too big an entity to bother about every single individual, I wonder why all the haste with this incident.
Surely, the Italians have erred greatly and are repentant for what can be termed as a hit and run, but in an uncanny way, the Indians are enjoying their role of being morally correct.

While the Indians can argue about their right to prosecute and rightly so, I fail to see how any of this will be good for us in the global theater of diplomacy. Prosecuting the hapless Italians could forever be the speck in the diplomatic eye of both the nations. Ofcourse, Kerala has lost two of her most talented tuna fishermen (pun intended) but don't we have enough Malayalis working as slaves in the Middle East to care about? I've seen and heard of thousands of Keralites who sell all their belongings, savings and everything in between just so that they can go to the Gulf and work as bonded laborers. Nearly all of these get to visit their homes only every five years, that is if they are not already imprisoned and still have their passports with them. But ofcourse, our great big benefactor - the motherland of India - does not need to know how her slaves live as long as the billions come rolling in.

So what really matters is money. Lots of them.
While the two fishermen lost their life for the culinary delight of their countrymen, their families have wisely decided to milk the cow while it's still standing. Each of the victim's families have filed a petition seeking damages of about Rs 1 crore (About $200,000)!
Those fishermen were worth more dead than alive
Couple of questions came to my mind:
I wonder who gave the families the idea of asking for 1 crore? How did they calculate the maturity amount so accurately?
I wonder how many ways that money is going to be split, if they get so lucky as to get it.
Does it really take Rs 1 crore to raise a child? I am pretty sure I didn't cost a crore to be raised.
And finally, I wonder if I will be worth that much when I am dead.

While the two governments and the Catholics are still squabbling over the Oopsie, I am quite sure the money is already getting spend.
Ka Ching!

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