Kerala is the most “socially developed” Indian state. It is also the state where mothers used to tuck their children into bed whispering the punishment for bed-time resistance. All it took to put a baby to sleep was a warning: “I will hand you over to communists.” Kerala is yet to go through an Industrial revolution. Yet, Kerala has the highest life expectancy and the lowest rates of malnutrition, and infant and maternal mortality among Indian states. It also has the highest literacy rate. In the United Nation’s Human Development Index, many developed countries are no match for God’s Own Country. Perhaps, it is true that the Harvard researchers who visit Kerala are convinced that this is the pinnacle of civilization.
Some think it to be a paradox. But, many believe that the “Kerala model of development” is a vindication of man’s desire to be placed in a cradle where all his needs are met. Even as a worldview, it feels so good. The security of the cradle, however, is tempting only to a pampered baby who has turned too lazy and difficult. Otherwise, a frown appears on its forehead. But, this is nothing to worry about. The cradle seems to exist and function-precisely because of this.
Many intellectuals attribute Kerala’s ‘success’ to its radical leftwing politics, matrilineal system and literacy campaigns that date back to the early 19th century. It is believed that government investment in education, healthcare and basic necessities laid the foundation of progress in Kerala. But governments heavily subsidise education and healthcare throughout the world. The supposedly enlightened voters of Kerala were often ruled by people who even opposed computerisation. Their policy positions are a complete rejection of centuries of economic analysis. Is it plausible that their intuitions are sounder than science?