The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Medical colleges, owned by Marxists

Thiruvananthapuram, April 26: Tasting blood with television, the comrades are smacking their lips at more juicy slices of politically correct capitalism.

The Marxists in Kerala are planning to set up private engineering and medical colleges, spurred by the success of their television channel Kairali.

The noble idea of freeing higher education from the clutches of communalism 'bodies associated with various religions and castes have a stranglehold on the sector in the state ' is the stated objective behind the CPM's foray into professional courses.

But the unstated fact is that education is big business in Kerala, probably next only to liquor in its reach and revenue-earning capacity.

The unofficial admission rate ' better known as capitation fee ' in some private medical colleges can sometimes go up to as much as Rs 20 lakh a seat. Private colleges can set aside 50 per cent seats for allotment under the payment quota.

The fee, too, is not too low. The annual medical course fee ' set by a committee ' this year is around Rs 1.11 lakh.

The CPM has not said yet whether it plans to charge capitation fee or whether it will make all seats in its colleges merit-based.

Education is not the only area that has caught the party's fancy. It is already backing the setting up of an amusement park and a super-speciality hospital in its bastion in the northern district of Kannur.

The party, which commands the largest vote share in the state, also controls the largest number of cooperative institutions from where it could try raising money for its proposed colleges.

CPM central committee member M.A. Baby explained the forays as a policy of leveraging resources in the capitalist system for the benefit of the downtrodden.

The party looks at these ventures as a dialectical relationship between struggle and compromise along the path towards revolution, he said on the eve of the party's state committee meeting, which CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and politburo colleague Sitaram Yechury will attend.

Hardliners in the party are opposed to such 'digressions' but Baby feels that higher education in the state is in the clutches of communal and caste outfits. Hence, the party initiative that aims at checkmating the unhealthy trend and facilitating an equal share of social opportunities.

Asked about the party's perceived doublespeak on foreign direct investment and development issues, Baby said the 18th party congress in New Delhi had clarified that there was no harm in accepting foreign funds that did not have any adverse conditions attached.

Asked why the party did a flip-flop on the Coca-Cola plant at Palakkad ' rolling out the red carpet while it was in power and agitating against it when in the Opposition ' Baby attributed this aberration to course correction in the light of fresh reality.

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