Applause, applause, applause! Kerala has bagged the trophy for the Best State in India, again, for the umpteenth time in history! Now I'm on cloud nine, and why shouldn't I be? Have a glance through the numbers given below...courtesy the Outlook Diamond States Awards 2008, and you'll understand my elation.
I can still recollect the India Today survey in the mid 90s and multitude of similar studies over the decade complementing the one result: Kerala on top! So the Outlook '08 result wont raise many eyebrows, apart from a few green eyed souls here 'n there and another bunch of wary cynics who would like to see sunrise in the west.
Because numbers cant lie, can they? I'll believe they won't, for the time being, :chuckle:
Kerala stands head and shoulders above the rest in Healthcare, Education, Women's Empowerment and Basic Infrastructure. I couldn't believe the Basic Infrastructure part of it at first, but it just meant the no of Post Offices, Hospital beds, surfaced roads, schools, telephone density and other social amenities for every 100,000 population...and for a 100% wired state the numero uno position comes naturally. No arguments.
No one could raise a point against the Healthcare and Education parameters of the survey as well; there is no better place than Kerala here. Education is a very sensitive and primary necessity in every mallu household, and there is one biggest factor behind Kerala's superior social indices: high female literacy.
Sociologists will tell you that female literacy is the determining factor behind all developed societies. Kerala scoring nearly cent percent in the Women's Empowerment part of it sums up the survey for Kerala.
So does that mean Kerala is the best state in India for the fairer sex? I'm not answering this question for you here, because it may just spoil the party...
Not surprisingly, Kerala has once again managed to mess up the figures when it comes to pointers directly related to employment and industrialisation. The chart has made it crystal clear that Kerala has not yet managed to chain its worst menace: the unemployment. Figures have sort-of doubled in the past decade and the sweat and blood of the labourers and professionals across the sea is what keeps the Kerala bogey rolling. But for how long?
How long will we survive by producing people and exporting them?
How far will we go by depending on the neighbouring states for even the basic consumer products?
And how are we going to compete in this scenario where petty politics, mindless factionalism, rusty ideologies and unnecessary controversies are drying up the trickle of investments we are getting?
Kerala has always been the land of firsts...First in all surveys...first fully literate state...first technopark...first container terminal...and now first mother port...the list rolls on. But from then on other states have taken over and we have allowed them to sideswipe us off the road. 25% of Kerala's Economy is from NRI remittance. Can Keralites imagine the situation if the oil wells run dry in the middle east or the "native population" policy is implemented. We know what will happen if a 1990 scenario(Gulf War) happens again. Kuwait is on its way to implement public taxation to counter the revenue loss from fossil fuels. Saudi Arabia is drawing up plans to phase out the foreign nationals working in the country and many other middle east countries are following suit. In the West, UK already has a law in place making it mandatory for the immigrant workers to spend at least 40% of their non-taxable income in that country. The looming recession is forcing other nations to adopt similar enforcements. The end result: A major cut down on Kerala's income from its expatriates; devastating the Real Estate and banking sector in Kerala. This could well spell doom for the India's No#1 state!
There should be a way out for Kerala from this, you can't expect things to remain as it is now. Agricultural and Marine sector, providing employment to millions, has been contributing lesser and lesser to the State GDP over the years. Service Industry is on the rise in the state with Tourism generating a much needed boost for the state economy.The state bets big on Information Technology, with ambitious plans to spread the blue chip magic to even the smaller towns. Lastly, the Govt hopes to shrug off the "consumer state" tag by serious efforts to industrialization through the development of major ports in Cochin and Vizhinjam(Trivandrum). So there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully we wont be overtaken before reaching there.
Even then the road ahead wont be like Hema Malini's cheeks for Kerala. The attitude against changes is the characteristic feature of the Kerala society, which inadvertently chokes any development proposals. It has resulted in the cash stripped Govt finding it tough even to pay its employees. Many social & infrastructural proposals get rejected in the Finance Ministry for want of funds. The biggest and crucial change should come from the politicians, media and a bigger section of the bureaucracy who always tend to see only the thorns in a rose.
So as of now, I will sleep with the survey report under my pillow, if it solves our problems. A good sportsman analyzes his failures, but the best scrutinizes his victories. Kerala knows that we are walking pretty on the ramp now, but is well aware that the shoe is pinching, and badly. So if we know what's hurting us, why don't we stitch it right away?
Have your say in the discussions on the Uniform Civil Code by Domestic Avalanche in Kenny Jacob's blog. Make sure you read the Part III of the series coming up this weekend!