The careers of communist leaders K R Gouri Amma and her former compatriot late M V Raghavan had a similar trajectory. Both of them started out as hardcore revolutionaries and became stalwarts of the communist party before finding themselves out of the party and eventually drifting to the rival camp around the same time.
Their lives, especially in their twilight years, too took a similar aspect. MVR, as Raghavan was popularly called, was reduced to a frail old man in his last days. In his late years he was a pale shadow of his former feisty self. He invoked pity.
Gouri Amma was also weary of life towards the fag end of her life. Well-wishers who went to her house to greet her on her birthday a few years ago were shocked to sense the despondency in her voice. "I am alone in this big house. I have only policemen for company. I am sleeping alone in this house in my 96th year. I have many friends and relatives but they are all busy. I can't blame anyone. Usually people are bedridden at this age. I am lucky to be walking on my legs. But please don't wish me long life," she reportedly said.
The world-weariness of Gouri Amma and MVR cannot cloud their heroic past. Their contributions to Kerala as ministers are ever-lasting.
Vizhinjam to Pariyaram
An international port at Vizhinjam was his dream project. He was convinced that the port would grow into a gateway of India. He went through so many hurdles to make the project a reality. Though he could not steamroll the Vizhinjam project in his heydays, he set in motion a few other projects. He wanted to build a super speciality hospital for north Kerala at Pariyaram. He entrusted L&T to design and construct the buildings for the medical college and the super speciality hospital. The project was finished in just three years. The buildings of the Pariyaram Medical College complex are the best among similar establishments in Kerala.
The Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram had its genesis during the term of Gouri Amma as industries minister. K P P Nambiar, who was a special adviser to the government, was appointed the chairman of the project board. The idea was to develop 100 acres for a technology park.
Gouri Amma convinced the syndicate of the University of Kerala to part with 50 acres for the project in a rather dramatic way. She invited the syndicate members and other officials to her residence for tea. There Nambiar gave them an impromptu talk about the role universities played in aiding industries worldwide. He recalled the links between Silicon Valley and Stanford University and that of Texas Instruments with the Texas University. He concluded that an association of the Kerala University and a technology park could do wonders for the state.
The university decided to grant 50 acres for the park. Keen on the project, Gouri Amma got the government to acquire another 200 acres for the park, Nambiar reminisced in his autobiography. If Keltron was the first state-owned electronics corporation in India, Technopark would be its first tech park.
Technopark was mooted as an electronic industry campus that employed 5,000 people. Today, the campus offers direct employment to 47,000 people working for 352 companies. More than 1.5 lakh people have found work in associated sectors such as taxi, bus, restaurants and hotels.
Technopark has added 86 acres in the second phase of development and 92 acres in the third phase. Technocity has another 423 acres. The campuses have grown into an industrial city that spans over 761 acres.
Nambiar's genius was not confined to envisaging projects. He was also deft in identifying the people to run them. He found a little-known technology professional as Technopark's founder-CEO – G Vijayaraghavan from the C-DAC. He is a reputed technology-management expert in Kerala today.
Nambiar's vision would have come to naught if he were not working with a determined leader like Gouri Amma. She assured that the project got more than he bargained for.