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Performance not up to the mark: Antony

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, AUG. 15. The Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, today said his Government could not function in the manner expected by the people who had given it a massive mandate with "much hope" in the last Assembly elections.

Delivering the 58th Independence Day message at the Central Stadium here, Mr. Antony said the State had achieved remarkable progress in several areas, including a record 8.2 per cent growth in State domestic product, during the 2003-04 period. An independent national-level survey of the progress achieved by the States in the past one year had placed Kerala second in overall development. In the areas of law enforcement, education and health, Kerala was ranked first in the survey, he said.

Mr. Antony said his Government had come to power when Kerala was in deep economic crises and what had been achieved was despite great financial limitations.

Social evils

Since 1996, Kerala has reported the highest suicide rate in the country. Mr. Antony described the trend as a social evil that needed to be addressed urgently by creating social awareness. "My request is not to exploit suicides for achieving political ends," he said. Mr. Antony urged the media, political parties and voluntary organisations to be alert against the trend of committing suicide.

The Chief Minister noted that alcohol consumption was very high in Kerala compared to other States. It was an indicator of social and familial disintegration. The malady needs to be addressed, he said. Mr. Antony said that independent observers from outside could see that the Government's policy of insulating the police from political and extraneous interference had worked to the advantage of the people. But, one could not claim that the police had functioned in a totally "error-free" manner. A sincere effort was on to rectify the shortcomings in the functioning of the police and improve the quality of the service rendered by the department.

Private investment

The Government's efforts to bring in foreign investment had run into rough weather owing to negative criticism and relentless agitations. The Government had organised the Global Investor Meet and reformed labour laws in order to create an investor-friendly climate with the sincere aim of creating as many jobs as possible for the 40 lakh unemployed youth in the State. Unfortunately, the developmental efforts were "nipped in the bud". Even the media responded to such issues in a passionate and intense manner. Very little effort was taken to objectively evaluate the issues at hand and understand the shortcomings, if any, he said.

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