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Kerala model

The Kerala model , based on the development experience of the southern Indian state of Kerala, refers to the state's achievement of significant improvements in material conditions of living, reflected in indicators of social development that are comparable to that of many developed countries, even though the state's per capita income is low in comparison.[1] Achievements such as low levels of infant mortality and population growth, and high levels of literacy and life expectancy, along with the factors responsible for such achievements have been considered the constituting elements of the Kerala model.[1] [2] More precisely, the Kerala model has been defined as:

A set of high material quality-of-life indicators coinciding with low per-capita incomes, both distributed across nearly the entire population of Kerala. A set of wealth and resource redistribution programmes that have largely brought about the high material quality-of-life indicators. High levels of political participation and activism among ordinary people along with substantial numbers of dedicated leaders at all levels. Kerala's mass activism and committed cadre were able to function within a largely democratic structure, which their activism has served to reinforce.[2]

The Centre for Development Studies at Thiruvananthapuram with the help of United Nations, conducted a case study of selected issues with reference to Kerala in 1970s. The results and recommendations of this study came to be known as the 'Kerala Model' of equitable growth which emphasised land reforms, poverty reduction, educational access and child welfare. The Kerala Model brought a sea change in development thinking which was until then obsessed with achieving high GDP growth rates. However, Pakistani Economist Mahbub ul Haq in 1990, changed the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people centered policies. Mahbub-ul-Haq, the pioneer of Human development theory and founder of the Human Development Report. Human Development Index in 1990

From 1990 onwards, the United Nations came with the Human Development Index (HDI). This is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate developed (high development), developing (middle development), and underdeveloped (low development) countries. The statistic is composed from data on Life Expectancy, Education and per-capita GDP (as an indicator of Standard of living) collected at the national level using a formula. This index, which has become one of the most influential and widely used indices to measure human development across countries, give Kerala Model an international recognition. The HDI has been used since 1990 by the United Nations Development Programme for its annual Human Development Reports. From the starting of this index, Kerala has topped in all parameters, even more than the developed countries.

Reasons for the Kerala Model

Health Care

The basis for the states impressive health standards is the statewide infrastructure of primary health centres. There are over 2,700 government medical institutions in the state, with 330 beds per 100,000 population, the highest in the country. With virtually all mothers taught to breastfeed, and a state-supported nutrition programme for pregnant and new mothers, infant mortality in 2001 was 14 per thousand, compared with 91 for low-income countries generally. The Economist has lauded the 'Kerala Community Model' in healthcare. Moreover, The Economist has patted the Kerala Government for providing palliative care policy (It is the only Indian state with such a policy) and funding for community-based care programmes.
Political awareness

Political awareness among the common people in Kerala and even the children are high, thanks to the unique political situation that exists in Kerala. Kerala is the first place in the world to have a democratically elected Communist Party in 1957, with the highest voter turnout in India. Political history in Kerala shows a trend of an alternating elected right and left government, which results in an increase in public welfare activities, much to the benefit of the common man. In each town square, political parties maintain their icons--a statue of Indira Gandhi or a portrait of Marx, Engels, and Lenin in careful profile.

Kerala had been a notable centre of Vedic learning, having produced one of the most influential Hindu philosophers, Adi Shankaracharya. The Vedic learning of the Nambudiris is an unaltered tradition that still holds today, and is unique for its orthodoxy, unknown to other Indian communities. However, in feudal Kerala, though only the Nambudiris received an education in Vedam, other castes as well as women were open to receive education in Sanskrit, Mathematics and Astronomy, in contrast to other parts of India. The Pallikkoodams started by Christian missionaries paved the way for an educational revolution in Kerala by making education accessible to all, irrespective of caste or religion.

Stages in People's Planning

In the first phase, Gram Sabhas(village constituencies) were convened and people at the local level were mobilised to assess felt needs. In the second phase,development seminars were held in every village panchayat, followed by formation of task forces for the preparation of development projects. 12,000 task forces were formed that worked out to around 12 task forces per village panchayat. Close to 120,000 people participated in these task forces.

In the third phase, development projects were prepared according to a format suggested by the Kerala State Planning Board, giving details such as the nature of activities envisaged and financial and organisational aspects.

Despite its achievements, the model is heavily criticised for the low industrial development in the state and high levels of unemployment. The educational reforms failed to make a direct mark on the state, as people were left with no option but to go abroad for work options. Today, with over a third of the population of the state living abroad,[citation needed] the policy in effect, created a brain drain scenario.