Kerala model of development, is the style of development that has
been practised in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
This state has achieved improvements in material conditions of living,
reflected in indicators of social development, comparable to those of
many developed countries, even though the state's per capita income is
low. Achievements such as low levels of infant mortality and
population growth, and high levels of literacy and life expectancy,
along with the factors responsible for such achievements have been
considered characteristic results of the
More precisely, the
Kerala model has been defined as:
A set of high material quality-of-life indicators coinciding with low
per-capita incomes, both distributed across nearly the entire
population of Kerala.
A set of wealth and resource redistribution programmes that have
largely brought about the high material quality-of-life indicators.
High levels of political participation and activism among ordinary
people along with substantial numbers of dedicated leaders at all
levels. Kerala's mass activism and committed cadre were able to
function within a largely democratic structure, which their activism
has served to reinforce.
1.1 In 1970
1.2 Human Development Index
1.2.1 In 1990
1.2.2 In 2011
2.1 Health care
2.2 Political Awareness
2.4 State policy
5 External links
K. N. Raj
Centre for Development Studies
Centre for Development Studies at
Thiruvananthapuram with the help
of United Nations, conducted a case study of selected issues with
Kerala in the 1970s. The results and recommendations of
this study came to be known as the '
Kerala model' of equitable growth
which emphasised land reforms, poverty reduction, educational access
and child welfare. Economy professor
K. N. Raj
K. N. Raj was the main person
behind this study. He started the
Centre for Development Studies
Centre for Development Studies in
Thiruvananthapuram in 1971, by the request of the
Minister C Achutha Menon.
Kerala model is markedly different from the conventional
development thinking which focusses on achieving high
rates. However, in 1990, Pakistani economist
Mahbub ul Haq
Mahbub ul Haq changed the
focus of development economics from national income accounting to
people centered policies. To produce the Human Development Report
(HDRs), Haq brought together a group of well-known development
economists including: Paul Streeten, Frances Stewart, Gustav Ranis,
Keith Griffin, Sudhir Anand, and Meghnad Desai.
In collaboration with Raj’s close colleague, Indian economist
Amartya Sen, he persuaded the UNDP to carry out work on Human
Development Indicators (HDIs), which started playing a large role
GDP in the framing of development policies. Another decade down
the road, the Millennium Development Goals, embracing many of the
Kerala Model's features – with the notable omission of land reforms
– became the new charter of development. Raj's seminal contribution
to development policy thus had worldwide repercussions.
The Human Development Index, which was introduced by the United
Nations Development Programme (a branch of the United Nations
Organisation), has become one of the most influential and widely used
indices to measure human development across countries.
The economists noted that despite low incomes, the state had high
literacy rates, healthy citizens, and a politically active population.
Researchers began to delve more deeply into what was going in the
Kerala Model, since human development indexes seemed to show a
standard of living which was comparable with life in developed
nations, on a fraction of the income. The development standard in
Kerala is comparable to that of many first world nations, and is
widely considered to be the highest in India at that time.
Despite having high standards of human development, the
ranks low in terms of industrial and economic development. The high
rate of education in the region has resulted in a brain drain, with
many citizens migrating to other parts of the world for employment.
The job market in
Kerala is forcing many to relocate to other places.
Human Development Index
From 1990 onwards, the United Nations came with the Human Development
Index (HDI). This is a composite statistic used to rank countries by
level of "human development" and separate developed (high
development), developing (middle development), and underdeveloped (low
development) countries. The statistic is composed from data on Life
Expectancy, Education and per-capita
GDP (as an indicator of Standard
of living) collected at the national level using a formula. This
index, which has become one of the most influential and widely used
indices to compare human development across countries, give Kerala
Model an international recognition. The HDI has been used since 1990
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Development Programme for its annual Human
Development Reports. From the starting of this index,
scored high, comparable to developed countries.
The India Human Development Report, 2011 prepared by Institute of
Applied Manpower Research, placed
Kerala on top of the index for
achieving highest literacy rate, quality health services and
consumption expenditure of people.
Calicut Medical College
Calicut Medical College in Kozhikode.
Kerala has around 2,700
government medical institutions in the state, with 330 beds per
100,000 population, the highest in the country.
The basis for the state's impressive health standards is the statewide
infrastructure of primary health centres. There are over 2,700
government medical institutions in the state, with 330 beds per
100,000 population, the highest in the country. With
virtually all mothers taught to breast-feed, and a state-supported
nutrition programme for pregnant and new mothers, infant mortality in
2011 was 12 per thousand, compared with 91 for low-income countries
Kerala the birth rate is 40 per cent below that of
the national average and almost 60 per cent below the rate for poor
countries in general. In fact, a 1992 survey found that the birth rate
had fallen to replacement level. Kerala's birth rate
is 14 per 1,000 females and falling fast. India's rate is 25 per 1,000
females and that of the U.S. is 16. Its adult literacy rate is 94.59
per cent compared to India's 74 and the US's 99.
Life expectancy at
Kerala is 75 years compared to 64 years in India and 77 years
in the US. Female life expectancy in
Kerala exceeds that of the male,
just as it does in the developed world., Kerala's maternal
mortality rate is :Total: 1.3 deaths/1,000 live births (1990),
lowest in India.
District-wise details of health care institution and beds for as per
the 1991 census
No of Health Care Institutions
Number of beds
According to a white paper on the Quality of Death, released by the
Economist Intelligence Unit in 2010, has projected the community model
healthcare system from
Kerala as a beacon of hope for providing
palliative care services. The report from 'The Economist' has ranked
40 countries across the world on end-of-life care facilities on the
basis of 24 indicators on healthcare environment and availability,
cost and quality of care. In the overall score, India with a score of
1.9 out of 10 ranked the 40th, behind countries such as Slovakia,
Malaysia, Turkey, Brazil and even Uganda. UK topped the list followed
by Australia and New Zealand.
While India ranks at the bottom of the Index in overall score, and
performs badly on many indicators, Kerala, if measured on the same
points, would buck the trend. With only 3% of India's population, the
tiny state provides two-thirds of India's palliative care services.
The Economist has lauded the '
Kerala Community Model' in healthcare.
The Economist has patted the
Kerala Government for providing
palliative care policy (It is the only Indian state with such a
policy) and funding for community-based care programmes.
Universal health care
Universal health care through extensive public health
Hans Rosling also highlighted this when he said
Kerala matches United States in health but not in economy and took the
Washington, D.C. which is much richer but is less healthy
compared to Kerala.
The magazine said that
Kerala is one of the first of India's states to
relax narcotics regulations to permit use of morphine by palliative
Kerala has also extended the definition of palliative
care to include the long-term chronically ill and even the mentally
incapacitated. Kerala's formal palliative care policy, the only state
with such a policy, the community-based Neighborhood Network in
Palliative Care (NNPC) Project that employs an army of volunteers and
the Government funding for these local community-based care units,
almost 260 in number, has earned it many an accolade.
Health Development indicators-
Kerala & India −2009
Birth rate (per 1,000 population)
Death rate (per 1,000 population)
Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 population)
Maternal mortality ratio (per lakh live births) * 2009
Total Fertility rate (per woman)
Couple Protection rate (%)
Life expectancy at birth (Male)
Life expectancy at birth (Female)
Life expectancy at birth (Average)
The report said twenty nine out of the 40 countries studied have no
formal palliative care strategy, revealed the report. Only seven –
Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey and UK –
have national policies, while four others – Austria, Canada, Ireland
and Italy – are in the process of drafting one.
Kerala had long ago
recognised the importance of palliative care as can be seen from the
growth of community-based care units. "The State's community-operated
care system is funded largely through local micro-donations of as
little as Rs 10 (21 US cents) per month. The volunteers in these
units, after training can provide psychological, social and spiritual
support. It is this that marks the NNPC out from more medical-oriented
and expensive systems in use elsewhere," said the report.
Studying Kerala's combination of Government support and civic
involvement in end-of-life care, a number of similar models are being
tried out in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Seychelles and even in Switzerland.
Kerala provides a useful lesson for other countries, particularly as
ageing population puts increasing pressures on existing healthcare
services," said the report. While countries such as Taiwan and Hungary
have managed to get on the top 15 of the index, one possible reason
cited for the poor show by India and China is their large population,
with the care coverage reaching only a fraction of those in
Political awareness among the common people including children is
quite high, thanks to its history of Social Reformers
like Sree Narayana Guru, Shree Chattambi Swamigal, Kuriakose Elias
Ayyankali etc., Leftist Movements and the unique political
situation that exists in Kerala. Political history in
Kerala shows a
trend of an alternating elected Communist led Left Democratic Front
governments and Congress led United Democratic Front governments,
which results in an increase in public welfare activities, much to the
benefit of the common man. In each town square, political parties
maintain their icons – a statue of EMS or Indira Gandhi or a
portrait of Marx, Engels, and Lenin in careful profile. Strikes,
agitations, and stirs, a sort of wildcat job action, are so common as
to be almost unnoticeable.
Bill McKibben says "Though
Kerala is mostly a land of paddy-covered plains, statistically Kerala
stands out as the Mount Everest of social development; there's truly
no place like it.
A government school in Kottarakara
The Pallikkoodam, a school model started by Christian missionaries
initiated by the then Archbishop of Verapoly, Bernardo (Giuseppe)
Baccinelli, O.C.D., paved the way for an educational revolution in
Kerala by making education accessible to all, irrespective of caste or
religion. Christian missionaries introduced Western education methods
to Kerala. Communities such as Ezhavas, Nairs and
Dalits were guided
by monastic orders (called ashrams) and Hindu saints and social
reformers such as Sree Narayana Guru, Sree
Chattampi Swamikal and
Ayyankali, who exhorted them to educate themselves by starting their
own schools. That resulted in numerous Sree Narayana schools and
Nair Service Society
Nair Service Society schools. The teachings of these saints
have also empowered the poor and backward classes to organize
themselves and bargain for their rights. The Muslim Educational
Society (MES) also made significant contributions to education. The
Kerala instituted the Aided School system to help
schools with operating expenses such as salaries for running these
Kerala had been a notable centre of Vedic learning, having produced
one of the most influential Hindu philosophers, Adi Shankaracharya.
The Vedic learning of the Nambudiris is an unaltered tradition that
still holds today, and is unique for its orthodoxy, unknown to other
Indian communities. However, in feudal Kerala, though only the
Nambudiris received an education in Vedas, other castes as well as
women were open to receive education in Sanskrit, mathematics and
astronomy, in contrast to other parts of India.
The upper castes, such as Nairs,
Tamil Brahmin migrants, Ambalavasis,
St Thomas Christians, as well as backward castes such as Ezhavas had a
strong history of
Sanskrit learning. In fact many Ayurvedic Physicians
(such as Itty Achudan) were from the backward
Ezhava community. This
level of learning by non-Brahmin learning was not seen in other parts
of India. Also,
Kerala had been the site of the notable
which pioneered principles of mathematics and logic, and cemented
Kerala's status as a place of learning.
The prevalence of education was not only restricted to males. In
pre-colonial Kerala, women, especially those belonging to the
Nair caste, received an education in
Sanskrit and other
sciences, as well as Kalaripayattu, a martial art. This was unique to
Kerala, but was facilitated by the inherent equality shown by Kerala
society to females and males, since
was largely matrilineal, as opposed to the rigid patriarchy in other
parts of India which led to a loss of women's rights.
The rulers of the princely state of
Travancore (were at the forefront
in the spread of education. A school for girls was established by the
Maharaja in 1859, which was an act unprecedented in the Indian
subcontinent. In colonial times,
Kerala exhibited little defiance
against the British Raj. However, they had mass protests for social
causes such as rights for "untouchables" and education for all.
Popular protest to hold public officials accountable is a vital part
of life in Kerala.
In the 1860s, the government of India spread the educational programs
into Malabar, the northern state that had been ruled directly by the
British, and began granting scholarships to
Dalits and tribal
peoples. By 1981, the general literacy rate in Kerala
was 70 per cent – almost twice the all-India rate of 36 per cent.
The rural literacy rate was almost identical, and female literacy, at
66 per cent, was not far behind. The government continued to press the
issue, aiming for "total literacy," usually defined as about 95 per
cent of the people being able to read and write.
A pilot project began in the Ernakulam region, an area of 3 million
people that includes the city of Kochi. In late 1988, 50,000
volunteers fanned out around the district, tracking down 175,000
illiterates between the ages of 5 and 60, two-thirds of them women.
Within a year, it was hoped, the illiterates would read
30 words a minute, copy a text at 7 words a minute, count and write
from 1 to 100, and add and subtract three-digit numbers. On 4 February
1990, 13 months after the initial canvass, Indian Prime Minister V. P.
Singh marked the start of World Literacy Year with a trip to
Ernakulam, declaring it the country's first totally literate district.
In 2001, Kerala's literacy rate was 91% almost as high as that of
China (93%) and Thailand (93.9%).
The following table shows the literacy rate of
Kerala from 1951 to
2011, measured every decade:
Kerala elected a communist government headed by EMS
Namboothiripad, introduced the revolutionary Land Reform Ordinance.
The land reform was implemented by the subsequent government, which
had abolished tenancy, benefiting 1.5 million poor households. This
achievement was the result of decades of struggle by Kerala's peasant
associations. In 1967 in his second term as Chief Minister, EMS again
pushed for reform. The land reform initiative abolished tenancy and
landlord exploitation; effective public food distribution that
provides subsidised rice to low-income households; protective laws for
agricultural workers; pensions for retired agricultural laborers; and
a high rate of government employment for members of formerly low-caste
According to the India State Hunger Index,
Kerala is one of the four
states where hunger is only moderate. Hunger index score of
17.66 and is next only to Punjab. Nation hunger index of India is
British Green activist
Richard Douthwaite interviewed a person who
remembers once saying that "in some societies, very high
levels – virtually First World levels – of individual
and public health and welfare are achieved at as little as sixtieth of
GDP per capita and used
Kerala as an
Richard Douthwaite states that
Kerala "is far
more sustainable than anywhere in Europe or North America".
Kerala's unusual socioeconomic and demographic situation was
summarized by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben:
Kerala, a state in India, is a bizarre anomaly among developing
nations, a place that offers real hope for the future of the Third
World. Though not much larger than Maryland,
Kerala has a population
as big as California's and a per capita annual income of less than
$300. But its infant mortality rate is very low, its literacy rate
among the highest on Earth, and its birthrate below America's and
falling faster. Kerala's residents live nearly as long as Americans or
Europeans. Though mostly a land of paddy-covered plains, statistically
Kerala stands out as the Mount Everest of social development; there's
truly no place like it.
^ a b Parayil, Govindan (2000). "Introduction: Is Kerala's Development
Experience a Model?". In Govindan Parayil. Kerala: The Development
Experience : Reflections on Sustainability and Replicability.
London: Zed Books. ISBN 1-85649-727-5. Retrieved 16 January
^ a b Franke, Richard W.; Barbara H. Chasin (1999). "Is the Kerala
Model Sustainable? Lessons from the Past, Prospects for the Future".
In M.A. Oommen. Rethinking Development: Kerala's Development
Experience, Volume I. New Delhi: Institute of Social Sciences.
ISBN 81-7022-764-X. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
^ a b "
Kerala Model & development". Dawn.com. Archived from the
original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
^ a b "KN Raj passes away". Oman Tribune. Retrieved 17 July
Human Development Index
Human Development Index rose 21 per cent;
Kerala tops chart". CNBC.
21 October 2011.
^ "HDI in India rises by 21%:
Kerala leads the race". FirstPost. 21
^ "STATE-WISE INFANT MORTALITY RATE" (PDF).
^ "Morbidity Profiles of
Kerala and All-India: An Economic
^ a b "Kerala: A case study". Bill McKibben.
^ "Maternal & Child Mortality and Total Fertility Rates Sample
Registration System (SRS)" (PDF). Office of Registrar General, India 7
Kerala Government. Archived from the original on 8 January
2010. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
^ a b "Kerala: the community model (Page No 24)" (PDF). The Economist.
Retrieved 25 July 2010.
^ a b "'The Economist' hails
Kerala model". The New Indian Express.
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^ "Medical and Public health" (PDF).
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Archived 12 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "How almost everyone in
Kerala learned to read". 2005.
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^ "The India State Hunger Index: Comparisons Of Hunger Across States"
(PDF). 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February
^ Douthwaite R (1999). The Growth Illusion: How Economic Growth has
Enriched the Few, Impoverished the Many, and Endangered the Planet.
New Society Publishers. pp. 310–312. ISBN 0-86571-396-0.
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^ Heinberg R (2004). Powerdown: Options And Actions For A Post-Carbon
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^ a b (McKibben 2006).
Amartya Sen and the "
How Missionaries help ended slave trade in Kerala"
Chovvanur burial cave
Battle of Kulachal
Battle of Quilon
Left Democratic Front
United Democratic Front
Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve
Eravikulam National Park
Flora and fauna
Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
Saint Thomas Christians
Jainism in Kerala
colleges and universities
Dance / Drama / Cinema
Cinema of Kerala
Beaches in Kerala
Islands of Kollam
Estuaries of Paravur
Visitor attractions in Thrissur
Tourism in Thiruvananthapuram