top of page

100 crores for building theaters and 10 crores for Library Council: Warped Priorities?

Kerala has one of the leading HDIs in the Country, which is even comparable to developed nations. The continuous investments in the welfare, health and education sectors funded by the Gulf. In recent years, as I have noted, the unstable nature of the Kerala economy has come into the fore: how long can the state depend upon remittances by NRIs?

Coming to the point of the article, Kerala leads in literacy in the country. This has been the result of a variety of social reform movements pre-Independence, and as earlier mentioned, investment in welfare, health and education sectors.

The Legendary PN Panicker. His sustained efforts led to Universal Literacy in Kerala

This was backed up by a variety of Communist-allied and other organisations starting a library movement– led by the legendary PN Panicker, a Village Level Library movement, called “Kerala Granthshala Sangham” (Kerala Library Association). The movement spearheaded the establishment of libraries in rural areas, leading to the establishment of a strong reading culture in the state.

The movement had , by the 1970s, almost 6,000 libraries under its wings. The Association was awarded an honorable mention in 1975 by the UNESCO Nadezhda K. Krupskaya Award.

But as is the case in those (socialist) times, the Government of Kerala grew disquieted and too over the association in 1977, renaming it into the “Kerala Library Council”. An obviously vexed Panicker started the Kerala Association for Non-formal Education and Development (KANFED). After his death in 1995, the Government of Kerala decided to celebrate his birthday on June 19 as “Vayana dinam”(Day for Reading).

Having brought you up to speed about the historical context, one would be rather amazed at this potion of the 2017–18 Budget Speech:

Amazed, dismayed, all the same.

A few questions that I have:

  1. Why is the amount so low at ₹10 crores?

  2.  And why was it even lower last time around?

  3. Have there been any initiative whatsoever to e-libraries, digitize resources? (None so far)

  4. Why is the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board the nodal authority to fund the Kerala State Film Development Corporation, and not the Ministry of Finance?

  5. Why ₹100 crores for building theaters?

  6. Especially in the situation where Theaters are closing down/How commercially viable is this?

  7. There is no dearth of theaters of multiplex complexes in the state, and in these circumstances, why invest so much taxpayer money?

These serves to illustrate a rather warped priority of the Kerala Government. In a bid to shore up investment, it is ignoring the three sectors that have led the state to the point where it is today. Trying to expand Investment and Infrastructure in the state is well and good, considering the inherently unsustainable nature of the state’s economy, but this does not entail that you abandon all pretense of fiscal responsibility.

Kerala has led Bharat in the field of investing in the critical Human welfare and development areas. Abandoning this in and adopting an nonchalant attitude in a misguided investment proposal is not one would expect, but that is nonetheless the result.

As for the ₹100 Crores, I can think a variety of initiatives that can be taken under the initiative of KSFDC; to encourage younger audiences into the medium, to host more film festivals, to support young filmmakers, produce digital content, documentaries, and so on, so on.

These ideas come from someone who is completely ignorant of the cinema field. I would love to meet and ask a few questions to the genius who proposed that Kerala spend ₹100 crores on theaters.

Fiscal Prudence, Much?


bottom of page