Kerala scores exceptionally well on all socio-demographic indicators. The left has ruled Kerala for the most time since independence, hence the success of the state is attributed to them. But, upon comparing the rate of development of Kerala with other Indian states and taking into account the fact that Kerala was already way ahead of the rest of India, it becomes obvious that the leftist-communist government has little to do with Kerala’s success. But, as they say, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.” Something similar has happened in the case of Kerala as we shall see in this article.
First of all let us take a glimpse into the history of the state. Throughout history, Kerala was an important center of trade and commerce. According to Sumerian records Kerala has been a major spice exporter since 3000 BCE, and even today it is known as the “Garden of Spices.” The flourishing trade of spices made this region full of riches and it’s population always enjoyed a high standard of living.
Moving on to the colonial period, Kerala was one of the first regions in the subcontinent to establish a trade relations with the West. Later on the British arrived and enslaved the nation, but Kerala remained free. It has three regions, Malabar in the north, Travancore in the south and Kochi situated between the two.
Except for Malabar, the rest of Kerala remained out of the clutches of British Raj. Malabar was annexed by the British in 1792. Although, Kochi and Travancore were not under the British rule, but they signed a treaty of subsidiary alliance in 1791 and 1795 respectively. Thus, Kochi and Travancore remained as a Sovereign Monarchies which were not directly under the British rule while Malabar suffered under the Brirish rule. The modern success and high standard of living in Kerala are rooted in this part of its history. While the other regions of India suffered under the British Raj, the Hindu rulers of Kerala took great care of their subjects.
Travancore, which was the most populous region of Kerala, was known for its relatively high literacy rate and its progressive government. As a result, in the 1951 Census of India it was recorded that Kerala already had the highest literacy rate in the country, at 47.18% while the national rate was a meager 18%. While other major were way below the national average. For instance Uttar Pradesh was at 12%, Bihar at 13%, Rajasthan at 8.5% and Madhya Pradesh at 13%. Interestingly, in the subsequent years, regardless of their starting literacy rates, nearly all the states of India improved upon equally well. In fact, some states even outperformed Kerala. According to the 2011 census report, Kerala stands at 94% while UP at 70%, Bihar at 64%, Rajasthan at 67% and Madhya Pradesh at 71%. Although it is obvious that given its high starting literacy rate Kerela had less room for improvement, but other states which were in a pathetic condition initially, caught up really fast which is laudable nonetheless.
This scenario repeats itself in the case of other socio-demographic indicators as well.
For example life expectancy during 1970-75 was 62 in Kerala, 50 in India and 54 in Maharashtra. By 2002-06, the three entities had added 12, 14 and 13 years, respectively, to these life expectancies. Among the large states, Tamil Nadu and UP made the most impressive gains, 17 years each.
Moreover, recently Nitiayog has released Health Index report for the year 2016. Now, going by absolute numbers, Kerala has topped among 21 major states with a score of 76.5 while Uttar Pradesh is on the bottom of the list with a score of 33.69. Thus, the comrades have got another opportunity to defame the “cowbelt” state of Uttar Pradesh.
But this interpretation based on absolute scores is misleading, for two reasons:-
1) Firstly, Kerala was privileged enough to have excellent socio-demographics since the beginning, it is not surprising that it is on the top.
2) Secondly, one should take into account the change in the health index since the previous year for a more accurate judgement of the progress made. In this case, Uttar Pradesh has secured the third position on the list as its health index improved by 5.55 points since the previous year. Ironically Kerala is at the bottom on the 21st position as its health index degraded by 3.45 points.
By now, it should be clear that the high human development of Kerala has nothing to do with its leftist/communist government. Infact the communist regime of Kerala has destroyed its economy. Kerala has a high public debt of 30.7%. It has the third highest unemployment rate in the country, while UP is far behind, standing on the 9th spot. The fact is that Keralites were “privileged” because they great Hindu rulers to look after them and a flourishing economy based on export of spices, unlike their northern so called “Bimaru” counterparts who suffered the brunt of British oppression which pushed them decades behind Kerala.