What has Kerala gained in sixty years?

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in Kerala that over the last 60 years the state has not been able to ensure sustainable development and social security for the marginalized of the society. However, this statement is entirely different from the reality and not based on facts. Kerala, which was described by Swami Vivekananda as an asylum is now being discussed around the world due to the contributions of the progressive left forces.
As the Kerala model of development was discussed the world over, several experts came here to study the state. People like Amartya Sen sang praises of Kerala’s development. However, Gujarat which Modi represents destroyed India’s image in front of the world, because of its genocide.

On observing the human development indices, one can ascertain the position of Kerala as opposed to that of Gujarat which was governed by Modi. An important yardstick to measure a state’s development is its literacy. Kerala’s literacy rate is 93.91% according to the 2011 census, on the same lines of the most developed regions of the world. The literacy rate of 47.78% in 1951 has been doubled by now. In Gujarat the literacy rate is 79.31%. The rate of dropouts between the classes of 1 to 10 in schools is 58% as against the national average of 49%.

Kerala is ahead on account of its sex ratio as well. In Kerala where there are 1084 females for every 1000 males, the national ratio is only 919. The ratio is only 918 in Gujarat. Infant mortality in Kerala is only 12 per 1000 whereas the national rate is 40 and Gujarat’s is 36. Among the 17 big states, Gujarat is 16th in terms of health, while Kerala leads the country. This difference is also seen in the average life expectancy of a citizen. The national average is 63.5, whereas it is 74 for Kerala as opposed to Gujarat’s 64.1.

In Modi’s Gujarat, workers conditions are dismal. Wages are the lowest in Gujarat, according to a national survey conducted in 2010-2011. There was only a mere increase of 0.4% in the number of workers in Gujarat in the period from 2001 to 2011. However, the corresponding growth in India was 1.2%. At the national level when the number of women workers increased by 1%, there was a drop of 1% in Gujarat. Gujarat hasn’t even been able to effectively implement the employment guarantee program and is lagging behind in the availability of drinking water and housing.

However, Modi’s Gujarat leads the nation in corruption. 6700 hectare land was given to Adani at throwaway prices of 1 to 30 Rupees per square meter, for constructing the Mundra port. The Adani group built roads in that land and sold plots to various other firms, creating losses of Rs. 10,000 crore to the state exchequer. Adani group made profits of Rs. 1347 crore by misappropriation in the purchase of electricity. The 108 year old Navsari Agricultural University’s land costing Rs. 100,000 per square meter was allotted at Rs. 15,000. Additional concessions worth Rs. 33,000 crore were given to the Tatas to shift shop from West Bengal.

Larsen and Toubro was given 800,000 square meter land worth almost Rs. 35,000 per square meter, at the rate of 1 rupee, in Surat’s Hazira industrial area. Misappropriation in irrigation project named Sujalam Sufalam Yojana brought losses of Rs. 1700 crore to the state exchequer. Modi became the beloved of the corporates due to these excesses.

The social welfare schemes implemented in Kerala have not been introduced in the states ruled by the Congress and the BJP. Kerala is way ahead of the other states ruled by the Congress and the BJP in terms of the quality of life of its ordinary people, its democratic ethos, its extensive public distribution system, its increase in minimum wages, its deliverance from caste atrocities and its secularism. The various interventions of the progressive left forces enabled these developments.

Another claim of Modi is that he has immensely helped Kerala. However, the Narendra Modi government has completely neglected Kerala. The central government took no measures to solve the problem of falling prices in cash crops. Modi government has not announced any new projects for Kerala and is not even willing to implement the projects that were announced by previous governments.

Kerala achieved these strides in development because the progressive left forces carried forward with special impetus the ideas put forth by the social reform movements. In continuation to it, the progressive left forces also intervened to solve the economic problems faced by the people. Land reforms were implemented in Kerala in 1957. Agricultural workers pension was implemented in 1980. Policies aimed at complete literacy, people’s planning and measures to strengthen the public sector were implemented by the progressive left forces. However, no such measures have been implemented in other states including Gujarat, by the Congress and the BJP. It has to be recognized that it is due to the differences in our policies.

BJP has no stake to claim in any of Kerala’s developmental achievements. At the same time, they are trying to destroy our democratic ethos by bringing in the inhuman customs and traditions that are still being practiced in several parts of India. We are aware of the violence that was staged in the country in the name of beef. Such a situation has emerged where several people like Dhabolkar, Govind Pansare and Kalburgi lost their lives raising their voice to preserve our democratic lifestyle. The Sangh Parivar is not able to enact such instances in Kerala because of the fundamental strength of the left progressive forces in the state. Keralites will recognize this false propaganda being aired in a state in India which has been able to raise the quality of life of its ordinary people.