Special Correspondent

Social scientist revisits Kerala Model of Development

KOCHI: Kerala's comprehensive development is difficult to be realised, however welcome the recent economic growth is, says a study by P.K. Michael Tharakan, visiting faculty, Centre for Socio-economic and Environmental Studies (CSES) here.

In a working paper on "Kerala Model revisited: New problems, fresh challenges,'' brought out by the CSES, Dr. Tharakan says that there are three main reasons to come to the conclusion that it is difficult to say that the poor as a section of society would cease to exist in Kerala.

The social and cultural cleavage between the desperately poor and those above them, more than economic differences, is on the increase.

Those immediately above the desperately poor can afford to purchase services from sources other than public institutions and services.

But for the poor, the only way out is to get such services from the public channels. Since they are the only beneficiaries of public institutions and services, they only will demand the upkeep and maintenance of efficiency of such institutions.

Since they will not be able to exert as much pressure as other social groups in public decision-making their interests will not get much attention. In democratic decision-making, the most important players are the political parties.

The poor whose interests get systematically neglected will not be able to make themselves heard in the forums of political parties. This possibility is higher in Kerala where the polity is trapped into a two-party or two-front system.

To set a polarisation started in favour of the desperately poor within such a closed polity is difficult.

Though there have been some organisations and organised moves from among the poor themselves, they have yet to prove to be able to surmount the obstacles that their predecessors had to face and failed to surmount completely.

It was in 1975 that the Dr. K.N. Raj-headed Centre for Development Studies delineated a distinct development experience.

Though there has not been a commensurate increase in job opportunity along with the economic growth, and that women's development is still facing major obstacles, Kerala seems to have returned to the development path.

Such claims made in recent economic studies are critically viewed with the aid of social science insights in the CSES working paper by Dr. Tharakan.