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Kerala Development Model - V

First of all Malayalees have to realize that we are world class people and that we can compete with anybody, I mean ANYBODY, in the world. How many of you, after working with people from other places, have ever felt that we cannot do that? After this premise, we should ask "why are we so poor (economically)?" Why are almost all societies much richer than us? Malayalees have a per capita income of about $500. We are about 30million people. We are somewhat educated. But if we compare with other societies, but we are very very poor. We have about $14billion GDP. A very rich place like California has about the same population (35+million), but about $900billion economy. A semi developed country like Malasia has less than the population of Kerala, but an economy of about 10 times as big as ours.

It is one feel-good exercize among Malayalees to gloat about the achievements of Kerala. It is true that Kerala has achieved substancial social progress. But even here, if we compare Kerala with countries like S.Korea, Malasia, Singapore (let alone Europe) we are not that great. When it comes to economic progress, Kerala is one of the worst performers in the world. We see several western reports praising Kerala. But remember that we are being compared with third world countries. We use least per capita resources (like energy) and live a comparatively much better life. But the standard of living an average Malayali is still very poor. Why don't we dare to compare ourselves with developed countries or for that matter, countries like S.Korea who were as poor as us (N.Korea is still poor like us) some 50 years back? Without achieving progress on both fronts (economic and social) simultaneously, we cannot claim that we are an advanced society. So aceepting that economic we are a totally backward place will be the first step towards our further progress.

Again, the issue of building institutions come to picture. Advanced socieities are huge and complex entities. There are literally hundreds of systems at the state level in such societies. Specialization, balance of power, checks and balances etc. are considerations when designing such systems. For example, a totalitarian system (and all less sophisticated societies) may find that an independent press may be a hindrance to implementing some grand plans. Same with an independent judiciary. In the short-term they may be right. But in the long-term, institutions bring stability, growth, and also internalizes change, ie. without violence. Transfer of power takes place without violence and break in the continuity. Presidency, national security council, armed forces, different executive bodies (like police), judiciary, reserve bank, election commission, press etc. etc. are all contribute to this. But if people want change, they get to choose legislative members to oversee all these. The system is just beautiful. Only that some people don't understand this. That is why we as a society we don't frown at the sight of lack of an independent police system, lack of an independent press etc. By the way, does Kerala have an independent press? Mathrubhumi may come close. Well, don't go there.

Now, about the complexity of systems in the society. Somehow, there is a tendency to oversimplify things. Sterio-typing is a form of over-simplification, for example, which is dangerous. Any over-simplification is dangerous to the well being of the society in the long run. Over-simplication happens because of ignorance on the part of ordinary people (followers) and/or ignorance, opportunism, and lack of intellectual honesty on the part of leaders and thinkers. This is very much true about Kerala society too. For example, why is there no big debate about wealth creation? Wealth distribution alone is not a solution, it is only part of the solution. People tend to support wealth-distribution schemes. But the critical thinking about wealth creation is not taking place in Kerala. When the need of the hour is generating jobs and creating wealth so that the stagnation can give way to vitality, most of our leaders and thinkers are involved in ideological and politically correct talks. Kerala has a bankrupt intelligentsia at this point of time. What does it take to attract investment to Kerala? Why are we not attracting investment when the other southern states are doing? How can we achive 10% growth over the next 3 decades? These are some of the kind of questions our intelligentsia should be discussing now. But, the reality stinks.

Kerala has about $14billion GDP. Whatever we do this, we cannot improve the situation further. Even if we distribute this GDP and give equal share to every Malayali, we will still be very poor compared to most parts of the world. (There are many many companies in many countries that have more revenues than this.) If we make this to $150billion, we can have a somewhat a good standard of living. By a good standard of living, I mean, good-productive jobs to vast majority of the people, amenities like TV/VCR/Washer/Mixer at every household, a first class transportation system, substantial reduction in number of accident deaths (avoidable with today's technology), a better healthcare system etc. etc. Can Kerala do this? Why not? Let the spirit of the people (entrepreneurs) be unleashed. Let enterpreneurs and investors become heroes in Kerala. Let government give red-carpet welcome to business people. Let the mentality be changed so that people view job-creators as saviors and not as "exploiters". Let Malayalis think that trade, investment, etc. are win-win relations and not zero-sum games. This change in the mentality is, in my opinion, holds us back still as a third world place.

This is not impossible. (For example, if we progress at the rate many of the Asian economies developed in the past decades(about 10%), we can do this in 25 years.) But right now, the Malayali scoeity is concentrating on the wrong priorities. For example, the daily fighting in Kannur over "nothing" shows an extreme example of how stupid that part of the world is. Does anybody achieve anything, I mean anything at all? The thing to keep in mind is that both Marxists and RSS men are ready to kill and die for some petty ideological or otherwise issues. This is the extreme opposite of pragmatism. Society is much better off with these young men indulging in some jobs, supporting his family, and providing taxes to the government, and helping to generate more jobs by spending his earning. Ideologically speaking, that is a more selfish end, but such selfishness (pragmatism) is one of the reasons why some societies develop. If everybody fights ideological battles, the world will be a hell hole. There should be a balance between ideology and pragmatism. Those societies that forget this become basket cases. I dare to say that if not for the gulf Malayalees, Kerala is a basket case right now, just like N.Korea. Countries like Vietnam and China took a pragmatic step in recent decades. Otherwise they would be basket cases too. (China, for example has more capitalism than India (even after India's opening up). It attracts about $40billion FDI per year, compared to India's $4billion.)


By Haridas

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX

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