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Human Development

How Kerala became one of the most developed states in India? Kerala Model of Development Case Study

How Kerala became one of the most developed states in India? Kerala Model of Development Case Study


  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Human Development || Concept of Development

Why in the news?

Kerala became one of the most developed states in India.

Brief about history of the Kerala model:

  • On October 9, 1970, at the request of Kerala’s then-Chief Minister, C. AchutaMenon, an economics professor named K.N Raj created the Kerala Center for Development Studies for teaching, encouraging development, and training in development studies.
  • With the assistance of the United Nations, the CSD (Commission on Sustainable Development) performed a study on concerns and difficulties in Kerala in 1971. The Kerala model of development is a common term for the study’s findings and suggestions. Child welfare, educational initiatives, land reforms, and poverty reduction were all highlighted in the recommendations.
  • The Kerala model differs from other development models in that it focuses only on growth and achieving a high GDP.
  • Raj and Indian economist AmartyaSen persuaded the UNDP to do research on Human Development Indicators, which influenced the formulation of developmental strategies. The millennium development goals were influenced by important characteristics of the Kerala model, such as land reforms. Kerala’s development levels are comparable to many first-world countries with a fraction of their income.

Human development:

  • Kerala achieved the highest HDI (Human Development Index) of 0.779, the highest in the country, thanks to government initiatives aimed at enhancing public and private education, upgrading the healthcare system, and assuring social welfare. The HDI for the country was 0.645.

Measures that resulted in high HDI:

  • Education to the masses:
    • Kerala’s high literacy rate of 96.2 percent is the consequence of a government-led educational system supplemented by private and government-aided schools. Linguistic uniformity also aids Kerala’s educational system in expanding its reach.
    • Prior to independence, the rulers of the princely realms of Thiruvithamkoor and Kochi, which eventually became the state of Kerala, were active in expanding education to backward castes and females through methods such as monetary aid to village schools and fee waivers for female students.
    • The male-female literacy ratio in the 1890s was only 5:1, which was significantly lower than the national average of 17:1.
    • Christian missionaries also contributed to the creation and expansion of Kerala’s educational and health systems. It also ensured the involvement of the untouchables and the underprivileged, as well as making teacher training mandatory.
    • These historic actions aided the state in achieving significant gender equality in the educational system. Girls make up more than half of the pupils in pre-primary, primary, and lower primary schools. Higher classes, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate arts and science colleges, have a higher share. Women’s participation in professional courses, on the other hand, is lacking.
    • In Kerala, there is also a substantial female presence among instructors. Female instructors account for 72.66 percent of all teachers in the state, which is substantially above the national average.
    • Another cause for the growth of education is the large amount of money spent on it by the government. Kerala devotes 16.4% of its budget to education and grows at a rate of 12.4% every year. The majority of this money is spent on education in schools.
    • Kerala’s economic performance has been aided by ensuring the quality and accessibility of basic education.
  • Healthcare:
    • Kerala’s health care is exceptional, not only in comparison to the rest of the country but also globally.
    • It consists of government, private, and cooperative institutions that provide Ayurveda, Allopathy, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Siddha, and Unani medicinal therapies.
    • Kerala is well known for its ayurvedic treatments and health tourism.
    • The establishment of public food distribution aided in the improvement of food nutritional quality and people’s health. Upskilling medical staff is made easier by government training programmes. The advancement of the healthcare system is also aided by high literacy rates, particularly among women. Kerala’s healthcare system is based on social justice and equity.
    • A Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme was introduced by the government to protect BPL (Below Poverty Line) households against healthcare shocks that might require hospitalisation.
  • Social Welfare:
    • Kerala has the most advanced social welfare system in the country, with a large system of fair price shops and social expenditure.
    • Positive reformation movements based on caste and religion paved the way for social and agrarian changes to be implemented quickly. These campaigns made education and health care more accessible to the poor.
    • Kerala formed an independent department of social welfare in 1975 to administer the state’s social welfare services and activities. Over time, the department was at the forefront of developing policies aimed at empowering women and other marginalised groups in society.
    • To eliminate socioeconomic imbalance, the three-tier Panchayati Raj System has made welfare measures more accessible to rural communities.
    • Kerala’s welfare system has achieved success with policies such as the State Women Policy of 2009, the Women Policy of 1996, and the State Policy for the Elderly of 2003.

Public action, socio-religious movements and socio-economic change:

  • The state’s socio-economic position in later years was influenced by socio-religious events at the turn of the twentieth century.
  • These movements decreased the state’s existing caste-based disparities through a system of caste solidarity. Members of practically all castes and religions were involved, paving the stage for inclusive development.
  • Sri Narayana Dharma PariplanaYogam (SNDP), established by Ayyankali, the leader of the pulaya community, Sadhu Jana ParipalaSangham (SJPS), formed under the initiative of the Kumara Guru Devan, and Kerala Muslim AikyaSangham) stood for the development, upliftment, and inclusion of the oppressed castes and minorities.
  • The emphasis on education was a common aspect of all of these “mass political movements.” The general public’s literacy aided in the rapid expansion of these movements. At the same time, the establishment of new economic structures such as the Public Works Department (PWD) and the plantation sector gave work options for those from lower castes.

Social Liberalization:

  • With the support of better literacy and education, a combination of socialism and nationalism strengthened the working class and helped create knowledge about the cohabitation of human rights and progress.
  • Agricultural labourers’ economic freedom was assured by land reforms such as the conferral of ownership rights to the poor, land redistribution, and the establishment of colonies for Schedule Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribes (ST).
  • As a result of populism and public demand, the government implemented social welfare and security measures such as pension plans for agricultural workers, senior citizens, and physically disabled people, as well as welfare funds for the informal sector, ensuring economic independence.
  • These socio-economic trends aided in a rapid population transformation. Traditional industries were also able to obtain financing through cooperative structures, eliminating the need for middlemen.
  • These initiatives were successful because they were backed up by a strong legal framework.

A brief overview of the growth history:

  • Kerala’s economic development is divided into three stages:
    • During the 1960s, the economy grew slowly.
    • From 1970 until 1980, growth was stagnant.
    • High rate of expansion
  • Influx of foreign private money:Prior to independence, Kerala’s economy saw an influx of foreign private money into coffee, pepper, and tea plantations, as well as agricultural processing industries like coir mat weaving.
  • Export-oriented commodities and the processing sector dominated the markets in the 1940s, thanks to a well-functioning industrial system. The products were coconut and its derivatives, coffee, tea, and rubber.
  • Low per capita income, high organisational density, and socio-political activity made development difficult after its founding on November 1, 1956. The state had no impact on the first two five-year programmes.
  • However, beginning in the early 1960s, economic growth accelerated, with growth in the industrial, services, and agricultural sectors outpacing the national average.
  • From the 1980s to the present, SDP has progressed through three stages:
    • 1971-72 to 1986-87
    • From 1987-88 through 2001-02
  • Growth remained slow in the first phase, but it accelerated in the second and third phases, with substantial growth in all sectors.
  • Agriculture and other associated businesses, as well as the manufacturing industry, saw slow growth after the 2000s. Construction, electricity, water, and gas supply, communication, real estate, banking, and insurance, on the other hand, grew at a quick pace.

Structural changes in the economy:

  • Kerala’s NSDP (Net State Domestic Product) demonstrates that the tertiary and secondary sectors grew faster than the primary and secondary sectors. However, the NSDP’s share of tertiary sectors has decreased.
  • Socioeconomic standing:The expansion of the tertiary sector is attributed to advances in human capital development. Another element is the development of the backward classes’ socioeconomic standing as a result of their representation in the bureaucracy. The increase is also symptomatic of the next generation’s consumerist mentality.
  • Due to poor labour relations and other causes, the agriculture industry has declined, while the tertiary sector has risen to meet consumer demands.
  • High incomes led to increased spending, savings, and investments.

Economic reforms:

  • Kerala’s first tangible economic reforms were implemented in 2001, when the state’s fiscal situation was dire.
  • Since then, the state has attracted international private investment in areas such as tourism, health care, industry, higher education, and information technology.
  • Agricultural industry:
    • In view of globalisation, Kerala lacks modern strategies to boost the agricultural sector.
    • The Biotechnology Policy of 2003 established two biotechnology parks and an Agri Export Zone (AEZ) for the export of vegetables and fruits, but it was ineffective in attracting biotech firms to Kerala. Kudumbasree’s lease land farming was a significant initiative.
  • The manufacturing industry
    • The Kerala government established the State Industrial Policy, 2001, to provide a conducive environment for investments in telecommunications, hardware, and software.
    • The IT Industry Policy of 2001 suggested the building and establishment of IT parks in both the commercial and public sectors in order to transform Kerala into India’s premier IT destination.
    • The government established the Enterprise Reforms Committee in 2002 to establish standards for improving the performance of State Level Public Enterprises. (SLPE)

Sustainability of the model:

  • A developmental model is sustainable if it:
    • Enhances or sustains the quality of life of citizens.
    • Increases or sustains the vulnerable groups’ social and economic security.
    • Increases or sustains the number of persons who use and have access to production resources in order to find work or live a good life.
    • Reduces, or at the very least does not worsen, economic or social disparities.
    • Increasing or preserving basic individual, social, and political rights.
    • Natural resources such as air, water, fauna, and vegetation are preserved or improved.
  • Economic stagnation:The Kerala Model has been matched with these rules and conditions for many years. However, economic stagnation led in a lack of funds to support costly welfare programmes such as unemployment benefits, food distribution, and pensions.
  • Development and productivity:The service sector has dominated economic development and productivity due to the underperformance of technology and knowledge-based activities; yet, the service sector is characterised by consumer-oriented employment performed by low-skilled individuals with limited links to other productive sectors.
  • Environmental issues:Another disadvantage is the increase of environmental issues. High consumption necessitates a greater use of nonrenewable resources, resulting in more waste. The continuing deforestation and paddy conversions, as well as the disruption of backwater canals, are the most significant challenges.
  • Excessive chemical use in agriculture pollutes the soil, water, and air. Pollution from localised industries, excessive mining, and the degradation of natural flora and fauna are also causes for concern.
  • Expanding global economy: In the context of the expanding global economy, sustainability is also relevant. Changes to the present structure that are too drastic can sabotage previous gains. A new trend favouring the wealthy has emerged. There’s a good likelihood that states will lose money if they don’t impose investment limitations.
  • Kerala’s spice sector:If the government removes the subsidy protections, Kerala’s spice sector may suffer. It may also have an impact on the cottage sector, resulting in job losses. Hegemony in education, health, and social welfare may push the poor and underprivileged to the margins..


The Kerala Model is deeply established in the state’s socio-political history, both before and after independence, and has resulted in improved social structure, land relations, and human capital development. Kerala, despite its gains, falls behind in terms of industry, agriculture, and job creation. The state’s growth is being slowed by its high reliance on the tertiary sector, emigrant income, and a lack of political will due to concerns about sustainability. A comprehensive policy, coupled with proper implementation, will lead to greater socioeconomic growth standards in the state.

Mains oriented question:

India, which formerly held the title of “Vishwa Guru,” currently ranks first among countries with the highest number of out-of-school children. Discuss what other Indian states can learn from Kerela’s educational programme in light of the statement. (250 words)