Thiruvananthapuram: It was not an extraordinary year for Kerala, but in 2012 the state continued to excel in what it has always done — making the news.
The most striking of those came in the last week of the year when the Google search trends for 2012 revealed that Kerala had edged out the Taj Mahal to become India’s top travel destination in search trends. To add icing to the cake, Munnar in Kerala also figured among the top 10 Indian destinations on Google search for the year.
Besides the Google honour, the state continued to make news in traditional ways right through the year— from political bickering to seemingly never-ending discussions on development and an alarming number of road deaths.
Through the year, the state hosted two mega events, Emerging Kerala and Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and predictably both attracted controversy. The key opposition to the Emerging Kerala investment meeting organised by the state government was based on the premise that it involved giving away land to investors at a pittance, while some local artists in Kerala thought the government was spending much money on their foreign counterparts by financially supporting the Biennale.
On the movie front, the state’s long-time superstars Mohanlal and Mammootty managed to hang on to their status, though the threat to their long rein was announced by a number of new movies that had interesting scripts and a clutch of fresh faces. Also tilting at the silver screen sweepstakes was Santosh Madhavan, about whom every movie-goer in the state seemed to have an opinion.
Before the Biennale regaled art lovers in the state, football fans in Malabar were treated to the sight of superstar Diego Maradona who made a public performance with a football and a microphone in front of raving fans.
The death of a young college student after consuming a shawarma from a restaurant in Thiruvananthapuram shocked the state, and then set off a series of raids by authorities at food outlets in the state, which helped set new standards for hotel hygiene in the state.
There was no luck yet for nurses in Kerala, who continued to fight for better salaries and working conditions. The nursing fraternity held strikes at different hospitals across the state, but there seemed to be no clear signs that their lot would be better in the near term. The plight of many school teachers in the private sector also hardly improved in 2012.
What also tugged at Malayali hearts through the year were the number of sexual abuse cases reported from different parts of the state, and shockingly many of the abusers being family members. If there was an equally painful memory of 2012, it was the number of road incidents, with the last week of the year alone accounting for more than two dozen road deaths.
Through the year, two Italian marines also made the news in and out of Kerala. The two were arrested after two local fishermen were shot to death and were in and out of jail for nearly 10 months before they got the court’s permission to go home to Italy for Christmas, amid fears they would not return.
There may have been such doubts at the beginning of the year about the stability of the ruling United Democratic Front, but the coalition managed to survive the year despite a thin majority. And towards the end of the year, the state basked in global media limelight once more when the Malankara Church had its head, Mar Cleemis elevated as a cardinal by the Pope.