Indian origin woman in Swiss polls

Cynthia Malarvady is campaigning intensely as a candidate of the Green Party for the October 21 parliamentary polls.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2007 12:39 IST
Cynthia Malarvady,The Green Party,Switzerland

Cynthia Malarvady is just 20. But this spunky Indian-origin woman wants to enter the Swiss parliament and is campaigning intensely as a candidate of the Green Party for the October 21 polls.

If elected, Malarvady, a first generation immigrant in Switzerland from Kerala, will be a member of the 200-seat Nationalrat (National Assembly), the main chamber of Swiss parliament, akin to India's Lok Sabha.

The Green Party works for sustainable development, environmental protection and human rights.

A bank employee by profession, Malarvady has been an elected member of the Solothourn Municipality for the last two years. When she was elected in April 2005, she was the youngest member of the executive of the civic body. It was her love for environmental issues and concern for foreign origin people in Switzerland that dragged her into politics.

"Politics was actually not really my favourite topic, but I saw how the foreign people in Switzerland suffered due to the kind of politics we have here," Malarvady said in an e-mail interview.

She is an advocate of organic farming. "I think an enduring agriculture is just possible without genetically modified organisms. In my opinion, this is almost a philosophical theme and I think these plants and organisms are (by nature) as ethically protected as the human being."

Malarvady is very clear about her priorities in her political career.

"First of all I think the genetic moratorium is expiring in four years. For me it's absolutely important that we can extend this date until we know more about genetic mutations. Risks and dangers are yet unknown."

In 2005, Switzerland banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture for five years and backed organic farming.

Born to PT Rajan and Annamma from Kerala's Alappuzha district, Malarvady's links with India have been confined to Kerala so far. She visits her ancestral home once in two or three years.

"I love to eat Indian food, especially what my mother cooks. I also watch Indian movies and wear Indian dresses and jewellery. But unfortunately, all I know about India is just Kerala state!" she confesses.

Whatever she knows about the northern parts of India is from the movies.

"I can imagine that the north of India is quite developed and also quite closer to Western mentality and culture. From what I see in the Indian films, I would say that I might be better suited to the northern part than to southern India."

Malarvady's connection to Indian cinema is more than just watching films. Her father had directed a few Malayalam movies. "All my cousins are working in this business, from actresses to music producers. So I am very well-connected to the film industry there."

She is keen to expand her horizon in terms of her Indian connections.

"I would like to establish better communication between the Indian and Swiss people as well as better communication among Indians living in Switzerland with regard to respecting different kinds of lifestyles, traditions and attitudes.

"I don't want to represent Keralites alone in Switzerland. For me it's very important that I represent India, with all its modernity, economic growth and also the negative aspects like poverty and the gap between rich and poor."

First Published: Jun 27, 2007 12:18 IST