The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan urged Non Resident Keralites to invest in ‘Intellectual Capital’ at the 18th biennial convention of the Federation of Kerala Associations in North America (FOKANA) held from July 5-8 at the Valley Forge Convention Center in Pennsylvania.
More than money, Kerala is in need of the community’s expertise and intellectual collaboration to foster its development, the Marxist chief minister told the 2,000 people at the convention, stating that it was nonresident Keralites who changed Kerala after land regulation. “It is the contribution of the NRKs that gives the state its stature,” Vijayan was quoted as saying in a press release. The last state chief minister to attend the convention was E.K. Nayanar, also a Marxist, who went to the gathering in Dallas 22 years ago.
This year’s convention was also attended by Opposition Leader in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala who belongs to the Congress party. Also attending was K.K. Sailaja, minister for health, Katakampalli Surendran, minister for tourism and state lawmakers Raju Abraham, Monce Joseph, Chittayam Gopakumar and V.P. Sajeendran.
Vijayan noted that although Keralites adapt to local cultures around the globe when they resettle, they keep their identity, language and culture intact. He said people celebrate their culture and language more when they live in other countries.
“Our language and our land of the forefathers give the identity to us. If you go away from the language and culture we inherited from our fathers, we lose our address. Organizations like FOKANA should work to impart the culture and language to the new generation,” the chief minister said.
He said Kerala has changed much where the government and the opposition work together for projects important for the state. He said many projects, which were considered impossible earlier, are being completed. “New projects are coming up. We believe in development that is inclusive of all. It should benefit all,” he said. Chennithala said work opportunities are drying up and the governments cannot ignore them.
Vijayan said in a market-oriented society everything becomes a commodity and people will value things if they are useful to them. In such a society people will discard anything that is not found useful — including old or invalid parents who may be viewed as a burden. “We should tell the children to be successful without forgetting values. The children who grow up without values are the ones who shot their classmates,” he said.
The chief minister also called for uniting with the rival Federation of Malayalee Associations of Americas (FOMAA), the mother organization,and asked FOKANA leaders to take the initiative on this. He said that 10 percent of the estimated four million Indians living in the U.S., are from the Malayalee community. He called for dual citizenship and for voting rights for all NRIs.
The chief minister earlier visited the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore to discuss about possible collaboration for the Institute of Advanced Virology Center being built in Kerala. Dr. Robert Charles Gallo, institute director credited for his work in helping discover the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, in 1984, promised intellectual collaboration.
During the convention, Prabha Thomas (Philadelphia) was crowned the Ms. Malayalee Manka FOKANA 2018. Asha Agustine (Philadelphia) was the First Runner up winner. Reethu Sreekanth was the Second Runner up. Fifteen married women competed in 2018 Malayalee Manka FOKANA 2018. That group was narrowed to 8 finalists who competed last weekend in Kerala Set Mundu Round, Talent Round, Saree Round at the 18th FOKANA National Convention 2018 held at the Valley Forge Convention Center in Pennsylvania on Friday July 6, 2018. Contestants had to be married.
The MANKA competition showcased contestant’s intelligence, talent, personality, confidence, beauty and leadership skills under the leadership of Mini Aby, Bala Kearke, Sosamma Andrews and Anitha George (MC). The performers included Aji Panicker dance group, Isabela Ajit, Biju Abraham. The judges were Malini Nair, Nimmy Das, and Khala Shai. The committee members included Anitha Panicker (Sound System), Celine Oalickal, Marykutty Michael, Mary Philip, Usha Narayan, Jessy Joshy, Usha George and Aleymma Mathew.