Kerala state is one of India’s ‘model’ states in terms of development activities and also in terms of human development both social and economic. The Kerala state emerged out of colonialism at par with other states in India although it was negatively affected by colonialism. Due to the colonialism effects many elderly people never got an opportunity to pursue education further than the elementary level. This was a major set back for the residents of Kerala who could not fully be involved in development activities given the lack of skills.
However the leadership of Kerala moved very first immediately after independence to push a literacy drive aimed at achieving high literacy skills in the society. By 1968 Kerala state had one of the highest education enrolment rates in India. This effectively prepared Kerala for economic growth challenges. Coming at a time when globalization was just gaining ground in India, high literacy provided Kerala with the much needed human resources to tap into the opportunities afforded by globalization. As a result of high literacy rates, the information technology boom greatly benefited the people of Kerala.
In addition, the globalization era witnessed most multinationals relocate to India on strength of high skilled manpower, cheap labour, friendly state investment polices and legislations, the hospitability of the residents of Kerala, highly developed infrastructure as well as the low cost of doing business at Kerala state (Nair, & Balakrishan, 1994). All the above factors combined prepared the centre stage for Kerala to become one of the most developed states in the entire country. The good human development indicators present in Kerala serves to demonstrate how far Kerala has gone in terms of human development.
The good human development indicators are a demonstration of the right government policies combined with a hard working society to produce good results in as far as human development is concerned. Poverty levels at Kerala are significantly low as more than three thirds of the population in the working age has employement. There are vibrant industries at Kerala something which makes it possible for the local residents to engage in income generating activities. The informal sector is also well developed and therefore those who fail to get jobs in the formal sector have an option to be employed in the informal sector.
Agricultural sector is well developed in Kerala state and therefore Kerala state is self-sufficient in terms of food supplies. Although the state largely practices subsistence farming this is very central to the fighting of poverty given the fact that, a lot of funds can be wasted whenever a state neglects the agricultural sector. The low poverty index of Kerala is a clear indication of the fact that Kerala is truly a way ahead of other states in India which are grappling with very high poverty indices. Women in Kerala have access to not only education but also to equal opportunities as men.
The Kerala education department lays great emphasis on the girl child education something, which has seen alot of girls enroll for primary education. Compared to other states in India, Kerala is the only state outside major urban centres that records the highest enrolment rates for girls in schools (Nair, & Balakrishan, 1994). In fact the girl child enrolment in primary school is higher than that of boys although it has to be borne in mind that, the population of women and girls is higher than that of men and boys.
Therefore evidence of high girl child enrolment in education is an indicator of good human development in Kerala given the fact that low access to education is usually a pointer to a society whereby human development is still below average. The high girl enrolment in school has led to the emergence of very many professional women who are famous all over Kerala and equally participate in the economic activities in Kerala. Particularly women dominate in professions such as teaching and nursing which have been traditionally associated with male professionals.
A high participation of the women in economic activities such as in trade or in professionals conventionally associated with men is a clear indicator of just how well developed Kerala state is. In addition, Kerala has many women holding political and administrative offices. The greater participation of women in the politics of India is also an indicator of positive human development at Kerala. In addition, Kerala allows greater political freedom to women compared to other states, which have been engulfed by the Indian conservative culture and rarely put women in elective or administrative posts.
Literacy rates as mentioned earlier continue to be higher in Kerala than in many other states in India. This can be attributed to universal education policy at Kerala, which is supported by the government. The same can also be attributed to great awareness campaigns at the community level, which have been designed to enlighten parents about the benefits of taking children to school. This has in turn seen more than 60% of the Kerala population become literate (Nair, & Balakrishan, 1994). Infant mortality rate at Kerala is significantly low and in line with the recommended world health organisation standards.
This low infant mortality rate can be attributed to the government’s commitment to provision of health care to the people of India. Unlike in the colonial period when Kerala had one of India’s highest child mortality rates it has changed since then and the state has good health infrastructure as well as nutritional programs, which combined have drastically reduced the rate of child mortality. As a result of good health provision, Kerala has a very high rate of child survival compared to other states in India.
Although high child survival poses a threat of unprecedented population growth, it is worth noting that child survival is a key progress for the state, which means that the state will continue to have a good supply of manpower, and cheap labour, which are important in attracting investors who usually prefer cheap sources of labour and an empowering environment. High child survival rates are also good for Kerala in that it serves as indicator of the progress achieved in the fight against diseases.
Kerala continues to enjoy food security given its agricultural potential as well as the adaptation of modern farming methods, which have seen Kerala produce enough farm produce to meet its local needs. Food security is an indicator of Kerala’s HDI in that, without food security a country or a state is constantly faced with threat of malnutrition in its population as well as the threat of disease given the fact that disease outbreaks are usually rampant in population with poor nutrition. The pursuit of a policy geared towards social welfare in Kerala is also responsible for Kerala’s good human development indicators (Cairo, 2001).
This policy is demonstrated by the government total literacy programs, public distribution system as well as educational reforms, which have targeted achieving greater literacy levels (Cairo, 2001). However all is not well at Kerala. The very status quo demonstrated above is under a threat from among other factors, export driven agricultural economy (Veron, 2001), price fluctuations, uneven distribution of income, diminishing government funding, industrial development (Thomas, 2005) as well as the influence of globalization.
All the above factors are threatening the decades old social welfare of Kerala and if not addressed, Kerala will soon lose its glory. Despite the good qualities associated with globalization, for Kerala things have been different. Globalization has seen the rise of tourism in Kerala and has led to the development of a tertiary sector (Govindan & Sreekumar, 2003). As a result, Kerala has an overdeveloped tertiary sector, which has often drawn resources away from the development of industry and manufacturing units.
As a result of globalization, Kerala is experiencing an increasing social gap between the people, the tourist regions, and those outside them. Therefore as a result of the uneven impact of tourism, the social and economic equality in Kerala is threatened. Another cause of change to the social welfare status in Kerala is high literacy rates. With a diminishing economic development, Kerala has in the recent past experienced talent flight in the global labour market. Global recession has resulted in retrenchment in Kerala, which has left many jobless (Govindan & Sreekumar, 2003).
It is worth noting that most professionals from Kerala have in the years been working in the Middle East, which in the recent past has been affected by regional instability. The returned professionals cannot be supported by the local industries and this has yet complicated matters for Kerala’s social welfare. Of all the effects of globalization, none has had such a big effect on the lives of people, than the technological advances that have significantly lowered the costs of transportation and communication and dramatically lowered the costs of data processing and information storage and retrieval.
Electronic mail, the Internet, and the World Wide Web are some of the manifestations of this new technology. The impact of globalization on society is also huge. Today everybody talks about the ‘global village’ and nations are quickly embracing the concept of e-governance so as to reposition for greater roles in the global affairs. One of the many advantages of globalization is the fact that cultures across the world could interact with each other and help each other in integrating with each other. It is only natural that such interactions and the inculcation of modern ideas and interaction will bring about many changes.
In fact, the ability to assimilate productive changes and the capacity to discard beliefs that are detrimental to the interest of the society are the essential qualities of a good social order. Therefore, globalization plays an important role in promoting cultural coexistence. If a society allows itself to be dominated by beliefs that are not in tune with the needs and aspirations of the changing times, one cannot say that it is a progressive society, globalization makes cultures to become more progressive.
On the other hand, it must also be said that a society that is open to change without considering the detrimental effects that such a change can make in the long run will not add quality to that society. As it is the case with the Kerala, globalization has had detrimental effects of globalization. Hence, ideally there needs to be a balance between age old ideas that form the foundation of the society on which modern progressive ideas needs to be implemented The position of Kerala in the world scenario The tiny state of Kerala, which is located in the southern most end of India, has a place of its own in the global map of developed regions.
In many respects, Kerala has been able to assimilate the good values of globalization while mostly rejecting its evils even though the undesirable effects of globalization are evident in the state. Kerala has demonstrated that social development is not always linked to economic superiority. Many human development indicators in Kerala are in par or above international standards and all of them cannot be attributed to globalization, which is a relatively new happening in India. For example, Kerala’s low infant mortality rate is slightly close to that of Ireland, which has some of the world’s lowest infant mortality (Richard, 2002).
Similarly, life expectancy is much higher than some of the advanced nations of the world. There are many other factors, both social and political that has helped the state achieve a level of human development indicators that matches that of the developed nations in the world. Progressive redistribution measures like land reforms, and a wide network of the public distribution system has helped the state lay a strong foundation of social upward mobility (Franke, Richard, & Chasin, Barbara, 1995).
Similarly, welfare oriented policies of the state government, especially with regard to education and minimum wage, and the role of a socially engaged population has also helped the state to achieve a place of its own in the global scenario (Akash, 1998 & Jean, Dreze & Amartya, 2002). It should also be noted that Kerala, which has only a fraction of the buying power of most advanced nations, has been able to devise a culture that utilizes its resources in an efficient manner.
The one single factor that has made Kerala such a success story is perhaps the level of education that Keralites enjoy. With a high percent literacy rate and a high level of women literacy, it is not a surprise that Kerala has benefited from effects of social and individual development (Antrobus, & Christiansen-Ruffman, 1999, & Lourdes, Beneria & Gita, 1997). Effects of globalization in Kerala As a result of globalization the state has become a hotspot for consumerist tendencies. Evidence indicates that the state is more of a consumer than a producer.
The agricultural sector has been the worst hit in the once thriving green belt of India and over mismanagement of resource is the norm of the society. In the job sector, the state has not been able to provide the required levels of employment to its youth and this has in turn affected the social milieu of the state. The increasing social unrest is often attributed to dissatisfied qualified youths who are jobless as a result of diminishing job opportunities. Criticism has also been raised on intellectual property rights and other similar issues, which have come up as a result of globalization.
The other source of conflicts associated with globalization regards the patenting of Kerala’s traditional products especially the indigenous products. As a result of globalization, many western companies have patented some of Kerali’s traditional Ayurveda. Recently, farmers in Kerala protested against WTO practices that prevented them from conducting their traditional farming practices. All this indicates that the process of globalization has not been smooth in the country and that there is much resistance to change from within the state.