Kerala model

Online comments posted on June 19, 2013 responding to an article on Kerala by Swaminathan S A Iyar :

17 Minutes ago

Kerala’s development model needs much deeper study at this stage. This is imperative, not only to save Kerala from imminent self-destruction emanating from a mix of policies influenced by the state’s literacy level, the false sense of wellbeing created by temporary inflows of funds which are ultimately debt which is repayable and political pulls and pushes from a leadership with blurred vision because of the company it keeps with those causing ‘Riches and Rapes’, but also to remind this state that it has no independent existence in the Indian federal structure. Having said this, it has also to be admitted that Kerala is not amenable to comparison with other states in the matter of crimes or even positive parameters like literacy or employment, because unlike any other part of India, the whole state of Kerala is a metropolis with some extended rural areas and tribal pockets. This unique position brings with it the disadvantage of almost ├ón online reporting of crimes and concurrent audit of development activities. Still, articles like this, hopefully, will open a debate on the rights and wrongs of ‘Emerging Kerala’ which will help in putting back the development initiative on right track.


Economic Times, June 19, 2013

Kerala’s riches & rapes: One of India’s most progressive state, but crime data is shockingly bad

By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, ET Bureau | 19 Jun, 2013, 04.49AM IST

Kerala is supposed to be a socialist paradise with the best social and gender indicators, frowning on economic growth andglobalisation. But a look at the latest crime data suggests that even Kerala's image as a civilised paradise for women is much exaggerated. 

Of all states, Kerala has the highest crime rate of 455.8 per lakh people, over twice the national rate of 196.7 (see table). India's crime capital is Kochi (817.9) followed by Kollam (637.3). 

Now, crimes are underreported in India, especially in the north. So, Kerala's high crime figures represent, in part, proper recording of crimes. Even so, the figures look uncomfortably high. 

Crimes Against Women 

Kerala has the highest female-male ratio (1084:1000 against the national 940:1000) and the highest female literacy rate (92%). This is attributed to a historical lead in education, matrilineality and enlightened gender attitudes. 

Yet crimes against women in Kerala are shockingly high. The rape rate in Kerala (2.9) is almost one and a half times the national rate (2.1). The rate of assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty is 10.7 in Kerala, thrice as high as the national average (3.7). The rate of insults related to the modesty of women is 1.4, against the national 0.8. 

Kerala does far better than India overall in dowry deaths: its rate 0.1 against the national 0.7. Yet cruelty to women comes in at the rate of 15 per lakh population, almost double the national 8.8. 

The highest rates for cruelty are in two other Marxist strongholds — Tripura (23.4) and Bengal (21.9). Can this be attributed entirely to Marxist transparency in reporting? Nobody will believe the very low rate of 3.7 in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who are clearly guilty of gross under-reporting. 

Kerala has a relatively low rate of murder and theft, but its cheating rate is almost double the national average. It is the champion in criminal rioting (31.4 against the national 6.2). This may explain the state's extraordinarily high rate of criminal hurt (60.7 against the national 27.7) and arson (1.6 against 1.0). We need more research on these subjects. 

Crime data are an additional reason to rethink the famed Kerala model of socialist development. For decades, Amartya Sen and Mahbub ul Haq (creator of the Human Development Index) lavished praise on Kerala for achieving high social indicators through government intervention while being poor and growing slowly. New research shows this to be substantially illusory. 

Rethinking the Model 

Despite land reform and Marxist pretensions, the state is virtually the most unequal in India (with a Gini coefficient of 0.392 against the national 0.336). True, it has the highest Human Development Index, life expectancy and literacy, and the lowest fertility and infant mortality rate. But these have not arisen by emphasising welfare over GDP or economic growth. 

Kerala has been among the richest five states (measured by per capita income) since 1980-81. It has the highest per capita spend in rural and urban areas. It is among the fastest-growing states, with a peak growth rate of 10.4% in 2007-08. This owes a lot to rising remittances from overseas Keralites, which now account for 32% of state GDP. So, Kerala's high social indicators are correlated not with poverty or lack of economic growth, but with rising Mammonisation. 


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