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...Just reading it would transport you to the utopia of the serene backwaters of Poovar, the pristine beaches of Varkala or the rolling hills of Eravikulam. It has yielded Kerala a place in National Geographic Traveler’s top 10 “paradises in the world” and brought tourism dollars. Good branding has also had certain unintended consequences. It buries all deficiencies and develops a certain sense of smugness about it. After all what can be wrong when you have God in your slogan! Go a little deeper and there is a miasma of extremism, sectarian killing, unemployment and general apathy. Last month, it was reported that 22 people that were missing had volunteered to join the Islamic State. It is said that in certain parts of Malappuram, a hotbed of Islamist terror, law and order is pretty much absent. The Indian Union Muslim League, which is part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), has been pressing for the bifurcation of the Muslim-majority district. ...Live Mint on Oct. 26, 2016, 11:05 p.m.
...The present Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, will have to display similar ingenuity if he wishes his government to tackle the state’s development challenges and put it on the path of rapid development. Assam’s challenges are many. Being landlocked with no easy access to a seaport makes it difficult for the state to make a mark in the global trade of goods. The security challenges posed by infiltration from Bangladesh and the annual flooding caused by the Brahmaputra are perennial value destroyers. In the four months since the new government has been sworn in, it has already faced up to the annual flooding. About 40% of Assam is prone to floods and no development can sustain if it continues to lose about Rs200 crore worth of property every year on an average—not to mention the significant loss of life every time flooding occurs. ...Live Mint on Oct. 13, 2016, 12:29 a.m.