Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kochi can be better than Singapore and Dubai, if we decide.

Whenever in Singapore, sipping a tiger on the banks of the narrow river with nightclubs on both banks, I dream of a Kochi which is equal or better than Singapore in cleanliness and tourism. We are blessed with natural resources than Singapore. Look at the rivers, the mountains, the back waters we have. They do not have any of these, but still they attract tourists better than us. Our heritage is much better than theirs. Where is that we are going wrong?. The difference can be felt from the airport itself, from the moment one land. In Sngapore the immigration staff greets you with warmth, where as at Kochi Nedumbasserry airport the immigration officer looks at everyone as if they are criminals. They do not even smile at them. Another thing that greets you at the Kochi airport is the over whelming greeting by the money changers, which resembles the invitation by the prostitutes in the red streets of Mumbai (I have not visited this place yet). The currency conversion rates are not displayed, instead kept in a typed form within a file. The negotiations for a better conversion rate can beat the negotiations in our local village fish market. Contrary to this, in all other international airports, the currency conversion rates are displayed on the electronic bulletin board, and there is no negotiation beyond it. When I complained about this to the higher authorities, the response was ' These immigration officers are policemen who are trained only to deal with criminals, not tourists', 'These guys at the money exchange counters are bank officers who are trained to deal only the loan seeker, not the international passenger'.  Is it corruption?. Is it lack of patriotism?. Is it lack of awreness of the missing opportunity?. What is the solution?. 

We need a colossal change in attitude in every Kochi citizen to cope up with the rapid growth of our city. Every driver should learn the rules to drive in a high speed six lane highway. This should be part of the driving test as well. Every citizen should be made aware of their social responsibilities. Every person in responsible positions should be aware of their responsibilities. We must consider every tourist as a guest. We must learn to keep the public places clean. We need to improve the coordination between the government departments to ensure that our roads are not dug by telecom companies to lay cables immediately after maintenance work. It is our money, the tax payer's money which is getting wasted. 

This is not just governments responsibility, instead it is every one's responsibility. Should it be top down, or bottom up or both. Even when the social networking is really ruling the center stage, the real social networking for a cause is still a mirage. I personally feel that a blog like greaterkochi can play a major role here by creating the social soft power around the vision of a greater kochi in all aspects.