There are two annual migrations that Malayalis celebrate. The first comes around January, when the expat Indians and media (several of them sponsored) make a beeline for New Delhi (mostly) for the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.
Overnight, several NRIs become the supreme visionaries ever to tread our land, all of them so overtly concerned about the welfare of Malayalis. Some want voting rights (currently, in vogue again), others want to the elevate the status of the workers, and almost all of them want one of those ‘Sammans’ which will eventually lead to a Padma Shri. (Edit: one such Samman winner is in jail for corruption in Oman).
Thus has the fame graph of several expat Indians been made, starting with the PBD honour, and then much like Pranchiyettan, greasing the right hands to win the ‘coveted state honour.’
What follows is the press conference, wine and dine, back in their respective countries, where the local media sing praises on the rich entrepreneurs’ philanthropic mind, and how he (it is always a he) has been born only to save us.
The second migration is what can be called the ‘Annual Summer Migration’ of Kerala’s ministers, media and movie stars to the land of Uncle Sam.
We have just seen Kerala’s Rural Development Minister inaugurate the international convention of FOMAA (Federation of Malayalee Associations in America) at ‘Kerala Nagar’ – alias the Valley Forge Casino Resort in Philadelphia.
A befitting choice, we can only assume, given what the hotel’s website promises: “With our casino in PA, the possibilities are endless!”
Well, it is all about possibilities, as we know; even the possibility of our renowned minister being inspired to have some smashing ‘rural development’ ideas from Philadelphia’s casino resorts. If Aranmula can have an airport, can’t Irikkur have a few casinos?
The FOMAA flyer makes you go ROFL not only at the sight of watching our senior police officials in uniform, in addition to the regular crop of politicians, film stars and our only former ambassador, but also for the claims the association puts forth.
Sample some of their accomplishments: “With “ Aana & Ambari”, a memorable Business Summit and Kerala Convention was conducted in Kochi, India.” Seriously?! Getting an elephant and ambari is your big deal.
This one will make you go ROFL again: “Was fighting for Overseas Indian rights and worked with
Indian Central Government to change the inefficient OCI card & Visa processing agency.” Now, what was the overseas Indian right FOMAA secured for us? Kindly illuminate us mortals.
If you have any doubt about the old ‘rajapart’ mentality of rich NRIs, here is a classic: FOMAA has started something called a ‘Malayalathinu Oru Pidi Dollar’ project. Now, don’t get ideas. We are not going to get ‘kizhis’ of dollars. The first project was to “distributing Malayalam books in Various U.S. Libraries in USA.” Just what the US libraries need, indeed.
Anyway, the Hon. Joseph, along with Premachandran MP, who too was in Philadephia, in fact is now at Kasturba Nagar alias Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Illinois for the 16th Fokana (Federation of Kerala Associations in North America) National Convention.
FOKANA’s flyer doesn’t promise any radical upliftment of Malayalis, but yes, they are doing us proud by selecting the ‘Malayalee Manka’ as well as the Miss Fokana. Well, every expat needs some nostalgic indulgence. So let it be.
And Joseph, we can only assume, is making the best of his rural development adventure, which might remind you of the old Panchayat President of Boban & Molly.
It would have been laughable if not for the fact that Joseph is also the minister in charge of Non-Resident Keralites Affairs. In the past five to seven days that UAE-based Khaleej Times has been breaking story after story (and not one Malayalam media woke up to it) about the sad state of affairs of the Malayali nurses stranded in Tikrit, Joseph perhaps found it more important to attend to the entertainment programmes to choose Malayali Mankas.
As they say, we get the government we deserve. As for the FOKANAs and FOMAAs, seriously, have it ever crossed your mind that the money for hosting these ministers and who’s who in Kerala can really be put to better use – such as ‘malayalathinu oru pidi dollar’ – that can make a meaningful difference to the community?
EDIT: KC, if you get time on your flight back, please read this.