THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “Yes, am I a puppet?” The perennial question being asked by legendary poet Kumaran Asan’s Sita to Rama, in a way, sums up Finance Minister Thomas Isaac’s underlying political approach that has been visible throughout the budget.
Close on the heels of the Left Government fighting a political battle over the Sabarimala fiasco, Isaac chose to lay stress on the state’s renaissance values in his 10th budget. In the wake of the Women’s Wall controversy, Isaac has come up with a women-friendly budget, with a number of measures to uplift the status of women in society.
“It’s in the 100th year of Asan’s ‘Chinthavishtayaya Sita’ that lakhs of women flocked to the streets to proclaim they are not impure. The great wall of defence erected by them proclaimed they are not mere puppets,” Isaac said. Quoting Asan, Isaac said in the current context, Asan’s classic poem assumes special relevance.
If the poetic verses from a number of women writers made his previous budget rich in literature, this time Isaac’s favourite was Kumaran Asan, who had fought against social evils and caste discriminations with his powerful writing. Invoking Sree Narayana Guru, Isaac said Guru’s vision that ‘irrespective of their religions and language, all human beings belong to one caste’ is most relevant these days.
It was the renaissance that moulded human beings as one caste. At a time the Left has been facing stiff opposition from various corners over the Sabarimala issue, the Finance Minister also referred to social reformers like Ayyankali, Father Chavara, Mannath Padmanabhan and Makti Thangal, who were on a social mission. Sending out a clear political message in the wake of Sabarimala, Isaac came down heavily on vested interests for trying to destroy the people’s unity.
The Finance Minister, who earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for Kudumbashree, has come up with a number of schemes for women, including taking up ‘Take a Break’ centres along the wayside. In addition to training 5,000 women geriatric care professionals, the budget also proposes to form a society of female masons, utility service societies capable of undertaking works like electrical wiring, plumbing, repair of utensils, etc. at CDS.
In a novel move, the budget proposes to set up event management teams at CDS, who will be capable of undertaking activities like cooking food for special occasions. Upgrading Kudumbasree local markets to permanent markets with cooler chambers for leafy vegetables is another speciality.
5 crore for Wayanad package to bolster pepper farming
T’Puram: An amount of Rs5 crore has been included in the Wayanad package to rejuvenate pepper farming and the district has been selected as a special agricultural zone for floriculture.
Schemes will also be formulated for other value-added agricultural products such as jackfruit. Activities for expanding biodiversity and arboriculture will give a fillip to eco-tourism.
Trekking trails will be established by ensuring wayside eateries and camping grounds. Special attention will be given in the rebuild project to high range areas which bore the brunt of the floods. The scrapping of agriculture tax and plantation tax will be a mild relief to this sector.