The “Kerala model of development” has gained significant global recognition for its achievements in improving social well-being and, to some extent, protecting the environment. The original Kerala model mainly focused on distributing resources but didn’t effectively promote economic growth. As a result, there is now a shift towards a “new” Kerala model. This updated approach aims to balance social, economic, and environmental goals at the local level by fostering collaboration between community organizations, local governments, and the state. The lessons from this new Kerala model have important implications for sustainable, community-driven development not only in India but also in other parts of the world.
- The ‘New Kerala‘ approach is all about using private investments to boost infrastructure development and eliminate extreme poverty. (Illustration: Picture of a balanced scale with “Infrastructure Development” on one side and “Eradicating Extreme Poverty” on the other.)
- It strikes a harmonious balance between advancing society and preserving our environment.
- The main goal is to establish a framework that produces exceptional results in areas like healthcare, education, and income equality, while also bridging resource gaps. (Illustration: A bridge connecting “Healthcare,” “Education,” and “Income Equality.”)
- ‘Nava Keralam‘ (New Kerala) places a strong emphasis on private investments, ensuring that the interests of the underprivileged are safeguarded.
- This policy document is a comprehensive plan that not only addresses the imperative for infrastructure development but also takes dedicated steps to eradicate extreme poverty.
- It promotes collaboration between civil society, local government bodies, and the state government to achieve these ambitious goals. (Illustration: Three interconnected circles representing “Civil Society,” “Local Government,” and “State Government” working together.)
Issues in Kerala’s Old Model
- The traditional approach in Kerala didn’t effectively tackle unemployment problems.
- With the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerala’s impressive life expectancy figures turned into a concerning rise in deaths and a surge in alcoholism cases.
- Surprisingly, despite having the country’s highest literacy rate, Kerala stands only 9th in per capita income, facing a shrinking Gross State Domestic Product and a high unemployment rate of 9%.
- Kerala’s economy faces a significant challenge due to its worrisome fiscal deficit of 4% of GSDP, which limits opportunities for recovery.
Kerala’s outstanding progress and development can serve as an inspiring case study for other states. They can learn from Kerala’s success and adopt its model to shift towards more inclusive and community-focused development.
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