Wet prospects for print in Kerala -- literally

From an industry viewpoint, I witnessed two poignant scenes this Monday morning in Thiruvananthapuram. Driving near Kesavadasapuram in pouring rain and darkness at around 5.30 am, I saw this newspaper `boy', aged around 50, doing his rounds on a bicycle with an umbrella in one hand and balancing the cycle with the other. To let my vehicle overtake, he courteously moved to the left and I could see that he had gone right into a gutter, owing to poor visibility. 

A few minutes later, near Pattom, I saw another newspaper boy, aged about 20, struggling to keep his packet of newspapers dry even as he himself was getting drenched despite the cover of an umbrella.

The two belong to a dwindling number of unsung heroes holding up the crumbling edifice of print in Kerala, which is facing the threat of being undone for want of newspaper boys. This is a state where labour cannot be got for love or money for plumbing, wiring, digging, household work, or what have you. A surprise indeed that there are these few who are still willing to do a job that involves waking up at unearthly hours, offers hardly any off-days and pays a pittance. Their frail and wet -- but serving -- hands hold the destiny of many media persons and their families.

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