Kerala Model Under Scrutiny

Kerala is that odd state in India with a high rate of literacy and life expectancy, higher quality of life compared to other Indian states and possibly the highest rate of migration of its people in search of better prospects.

The Kerala model of high investment by the state in education and healthcare for its population has been touted as a humane alternative to market-driven development where people become mere commodities in the rush for profits.

But with few industries or service sector opportunities in Kerala unlike neighboring states like Karnataka or Tamil Nadu, the leftist-oriented state has several million migrants working in other Indian states or abroad, mostly in the Middle East. We’ve personally encountered natives from Kerala working in Cologne (Germany), Chicago, New York and elsewhere.

The Kerala model and the migration of its people is the subject of an interesting New York Times article in its Friday edition:

“Remittances from global capitalism are carrying the whole Kerala economy,” said S. Irudaya Rajan, a demographer at the Center for Development Studies, a local research group. “There would have been starvation deaths in Kerala if there had been no migration. The Kerala model is good to read about but not practically applicable to any part of the world, including Kerala.”

Can the Kerala model resonate well without the $5 billion that its workers send into the state every year. Probably not.

And what about the social cost of migration on those left behind. Suicides are apparently very high in the state, according to the NYT piece.

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