MAN WITH A VISION, SHAJI J KODANKANDATH
Shaji J Kodankandath is rare and indeed a positive thinker politician who believes in carrying on his social activities rather than hankering after power. An advocate by profession and a social activist-politico by passion, Shaji J Kodankandath is truly an admiring figure in society.
Shaji J Kodankandath is an active social worker and DCC general secretary at Thrissur, who has been in the headlines a year ago for raising his genuine concerns regarding the non-budget friendly refreshment at the airports. Narrating the incident Shaji says that though our country has budget-friendly airlines, the refreshment is not very budget-friendly at the airport.
Time has changed and the airport is not just accessed by the riches but also by the common man which include senior citizens to children. We all know that for passengers of the domestic flight have to report two-three hours before the scheduled departure.
Shaji realised the exorbitant price for snacks and beverage is not at all affordable for the common man and is an injustice to their rights. “During a trip to Delhi last year, I had to board a flight at CIAL airport. I had reported hours before the departure time and felt like having a coffee or tea. I had very less money with me and went to a shop for a cup of tea. I had ordered a black tea and the shopkeeper asked me to pay Rs 100,” he said. The incident caught in Shaji’s mind and according to him, this was wrong. He also pointed out that almost all the shops at the airport terminal charge to 10 times higher than the normal price. Having four airports in Kerala, CIAL receives an average of 10 to 15 thousand passengers on a single day. Out of which a majority of the passengers are the common man and these sky-high prices are not affordable to them.
“Airports are run with taxpayers’ money and it was a shame to know that there was not a single shop selling tea, coffee or snacks at a reasonable price to protect the interest of the common man,” said Shaji.
As a responsible citizen, he wrote to the airport authorities requesting for a single shop at the terminal offering tea-coffee and snacks at a reasonable rate to the common man. After failing to a satisfactory response from the Airports Authority of India he requested the PM to intervene in the matter. “I am thankful for PMO’s intervention, the CIAL authorities have ensured that tea and snacks will be available at a selected shop inside the airport premises at a reasonable rate,” he said with a smile.
This single incident is an example that even without holding power one can bring a stern change in the society. Marking his foot in the world of politics at a very young age, Shaji is determined towards his duties and responsibilities. He has also worked closely with Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi.
“A true leader is someone who has the will power to do better things for society. A mind to fight and raise voice against injustice,” said Shaji J Kodankandath. According to him, a social worker is not the one who seeks for mileage from people to be a political leader. Instead, a social worker should be the one to fights for justice and well being of society.
Shaji’s positivism has helped resolve several issues. His tenacious pursuit of seemingly intractable problems and finding lasting solutions to them has made him the toast of the town.
Shaji J Kodankandath believes that no one needs to be a political leader or need to hold any power to do the right things. The people of the country and the leaders will come in your support if you try to bring or implement a positive change. “It is very sad that only a few come forward to make a difference in society. As far as I am concerned complaining about the faults is our responsibility and for that, we should not be afraid,” he said.
A complaint filed by Shaji about the delay and corruption in the construction of Mannuthy-Wadakkanchery stretch of National Highway made the Central Vigilance Commission intervene and had asked the Chief Vigilance officer to look into the matter. He also highlighted the alarming number of accidents on the Mannuthy-Wadakkanchery stretch of the National Highway and was proved crucial when the Kerala High Court while hearing the case filed by him in this regard appointed an advocate commission to inspect the highway’s safety and construction. It paved the way for carrying out the work under the supervision of the district police chief of Thrissur and Palakkad. The measure helped to bring down the accident rate in the area and speed up the work.
It was his involvement which got the police authorities to open the Trap and Skeet Shooting Club situated at the Police Academy here to the public. His intervention on the decision to close the hospital for tribal in Peechi and the construction of a check dam on the Manali river which helped to recharge the groundwater in the area was solely due to Shaji’s tireless efforts. The UDF Government during its ruling period had sanctioned Rs 62 lakhs after the people of the area faced water scarcity. It was Shaji’s continuous effort and will, to make sure the people had enough water and did not face any scarcity even during the height of summer. The change of political guard in the state did not come in the way of sanction of the project.
Similarly, there are many social issues where Shaji J Kodankandath has raised his voice. “Not just me but every individual of this country have their voice. A strong will and positivity in mind is what one requires to change the face of our country. We have sufficient skills, manpower and land yet we fail to utilise it completely,” he said.
He also said that we should have the guts to question the wrong happening around us. We pay the tax so we have the right to see through on how and where the Government is using our money. It is also our responsibility to ensure the money we pay as tax is utilised for the betterment of society and the citizens. Instead of turning your back and saying there is no point in intervening in these issues, we should change our mentality and start questioning the wrong. To become a political leader there is no qualification required and anybody can stand for election. We elect our leaders and we do have the right to question them if they are wrong.
Not just that Shaji do believe that we have a huge pool of resources, manpower and skill yet we fail to utilise it to the fullest. Highlighting the points he said that Kerala has a tropical climatic condition and probably the only land in southern India where lake, sea, forest and mountains are connected. “What attracted the Portuguese and Britans to Kerala was in search of fine spices. The climate here is so favourable for agriculture but still, we don’t have the resource to utilise it completely,” said Shaji J Kodankandath
In his opinion, Kerala has the full potential to grow in Agriculture, Tourism and IT sector better than any other state. But unfortunately, we still stand back. “The tourism sector is the most promising area for future Kerala yet we haven’t explored it well. A proper infrastructure without disturbing nature and destroying the natural habitat is what we require rather than building a factory. In terms of economy, IT is the sole sector where there is no pollution and is promising.
Shaji J Kodankandath believes that if we are doing a positive thing for Society everyone one will stand with us. The airport issue is the best example to point out which had the intervention from the PMO. “Our voice will be heard if it’s spoken out loud. It is also our responsibility to encourage the right and oppose the wrong. All one need is the will power to do it. If I can do you can also,” he said with a smile.
The subtle and down to earth nature of Shaji is what makes him a true leader. Being the voice of a common man and with the positivism, in his mind, Shaji has miles to go