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Tsunami aid: Kerala govt put brakes on US boats

Further illustrating the doggedness of its stand towards the US,a WikiLeaks cable shows that the Left in Kerala was sceptical of even philanthropic gestures from the country.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
September 6, 2011 12:23:15 am

Further illustrating the doggedness of its stand towards the US,a WikiLeaks cable shows that the Left in Kerala was sceptical of even philanthropic gestures from the country.

The cable sent by US Chennai Consulate on January 29,2008,says while the Left was willing to accept US charity,its “reflexive anti-Americanism” stopped it from inviting a US Embassy official to a function planned to commemorate American aid for tsunami-hit fishermen.

In January 2005,Illinois-based marine boat manufacturer Brunswick Corporation had offered to donate 20 motorised boats to assist in tsunami rehabilitation in Kerala. After initial reservations expressed by USAID,private charity C J Development Corporation was identified to help facilitate the donation. The boats meant for 240 fishermen families,approximately valued at $1 million,arrived in Kerala in November 2006,six months after the Left Democratic Front Government assumed office.

Brunswick donated the boats through its India dealer,Esmario Export Enterprises. At the behest of C J Development Corporation,the Kerala government set up a committee in the Fisheries and Revenue Departments to identify the beneficiaries.

When there was a delay in distribution for more than a year,a C J Development source told Consulate officials that the root cause was the cold war between the two departments — Revenue managed by the CPI,and Fisheries by the CPM.

The cable says that “thereafter,government contacts informed us that at a committee meeting held on 16 January,2007,the CPI’s Revenue Minister K P Rajendran decided against extending an invitation to an American official (to an event to commemorate the boat donation)”,saying that “due to political reasons it should be avoided”.

Consulate officials commented that the episode was all too illustrative of the challenges to getting anything done in Kerala,especially under the CPM-led government.

With a government unable to even accomplish the simple task of giving free boats away,it is no surprise that Kerala lags behind its neighbours in south India in attracting business and investment,said the cable.

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