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Powerhouse of Malayalis at Centre


Smitha Nair,CNN-IBN
Sep 05, 2006 at 01:45pm IST

New Delhi: It's a special Onam for Ottapalam town in Kerala's Palakkad district. Yet another son of this soil has made it to the top echelons of power in New Delhi.

Shiv Shankar Menon, appointed India's new Foreign Secretary has superceded 17 Indian Foreign Service officers to make it to the top job.

"We are very proud to see so many of them make it to the corridors of power. KPS Menon senior was the first foreign secretary," Menon’s mother, Malini Menon said.

While Menon will be taking key foreign policy decisions for a rising and shining India, there will be help at hand from fellow Malayali and National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, who’s not only from Menon's home state but also from his village of Ottapalam.

From ‘God's own country’ of Kerala to almost running the country - Malayalis are fast climbing up the rungs of political and diplomatic power.

From Principal Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, T K Nair to Hormese Tharakkan from Alapuzha who is now the chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and then there is G Madhavan Nair at the helm of Indian Space Research Organisation.

Adding the power of red to the Malayali brigade is one of India's most formidable politicians - the unassuming General Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Prakash Karat, from Kerala’s Pallakkad.

As the man whose party provides crucial outside support to the ruling coalition UPA - Karat's A K Gopalan Bhavan address is perhaps the second most powerful one after Sonia Gandhi’s 10 Janpath.

But the much-coveted Malayalis who have been there and done that, say much is being made of them making it to the corridors of power.

They say it’s not a result of patronage or political pressure and some of them even had to contend with complaints of 'over-representation' of Kerala.

"Keralittes do not have the habit of supporting each other either in bureaucracy or in politics. Legend has it that live Kerala crabs are exported in open cans because each ensures that the other does not climb out of the can. Each one of the incumbents has risen in his respective area by sheer merit," says former envoy to UN, T P Sreenivasan.

Yet some say it was the "Malayali lobby" at work in the case of the UN Secretary General hopeful Shashi Tharoor.

But going by the sheer numbers, it can be arguably concluded that to go far in the Government today, it certainly helps to be a "quick gun Murugan".

(With Naveen Nair in Thiruvananthapuram)

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