Ajith Augustine Benny;
Kerala, known as the ‘God’s own country, despite its rich socio economic fauna, lags back in economic development. State of Kerala has high rate of literacy, thanks to the social reformers, but it cannot keep up the momentum in the growth of education in the state. In spite of its rich human development indices, the situation of health sector in the state is a cause of distress
A popular myth in Kerala states that the region of Kerala was formed when a mythic hero Parusuram threw his axe across the region. The first inhabitants were the thirty two Brahmin families instituted by Parusuram to safeguard region from demons. Whatever it is, always myths are formed when human intelligence cannot explain some phenomena. But actual assumption is that when Indian plate hit against the Eurasian plate which resulted in the formation of Himalayas plus a vertical tilt of the Indian plate. This vertical tilt caused the land in the west to rise from the sea, consequently land is fertile. This process also resulted in the formation of the Western Ghats, formed out of molten magma that came through the cracks in the earth. The weight of the land rose out of the sea caused cracks in the earth. Presence of sea in its vicinity, the Western Ghats which blocks monsoon and causes rain in the western coast of Indian peninsula, a huge area under forest cover and other ecologically sensitive regions like marsh land, wet lands etc. supported the social, political, economic and physical geography of the region as well as facilitated economic development here. The economy was largely feudal in nature, with the most inhuman practices existed in the society. Social evils like child marriages and discrimination based on caste, creed, gender and religion existed in the society till mid twentieth century. Iniquity and anarchy ruled the roost here at that time, which made Vivekananda to describe Kerala as a lunatic asylum. With the selfless service done by social reformers, Kerala has emerged as a place where caste has been disparaged to the status of one used for getting reservation and nothing else. Unlike other states communal politics has a limited role here and the main facilitator of this is education system that penetrated vertically and horizontally in the state. The region which was never under any integrated Indian empire forged by the great Mughals or the Mauriyas. This was because none of the Indian emperors could conquer beyond the Vindya mountain ranges and only the British who came from the south could conquer it. Caste code that existed here was one among the many reasons like inequality, untouchablity and discrimination that had made this land the most fertile one for leftism and emergence of leftist government to power in the state through ballot paper. All this factors and facets have contributed to the present social, political and economic scenario of the state and conditions that prevail here today.
There are many problems and situations that exist in the state and the nation which militate against the development of the nation and the prosperity of the people. Reasons for many problems are not known to anyone except the almighty himself, some are known to everyone but none are ready to solve it, reason being unknown. People, at times government try to solve many problems when they are at the peak of controversy, just for the sake of the scene.
When speaking in economic parlance, one of the main factors that pull back economic growth is lack of investment. It is the sole reason for the government of Kerala to coordinate and conduct the investor festival ‘Emerging Kerala’ to showcase the ‘investment friendly’ climate in the state of Kerala. The fundamental concept behind promoting investment whether it be foreign direct investment, foreign portfolio investment or foreign institutional investment is clear only if we think of a situation where there is no investment. The national income is used only to give salaries, pay subsidies and other working charges used to maintain the state machinery. Since there is no investment, no new facilities are added and hence there is no increase in state income and only chance is to decrease but not to increase the income. Since income remains constant there will be no growth and hence there will be no development in any field. This will result in a state of stagnation persisting every wherein the economy and will result in an ultimate collapse of the economy and hence the state machinery. There are a variety of reasons for decelerating growth and investment in the state of Kerala.
Though license Raj had been eliminated and a new system is in place, but many a times the slow pace of operational procedures in the state for getting an approval for an investment project reminds as of the old legacy. One of the noted reasons ascertained is red tapeism. Though the political executive is instrumental in promoting many projects but the permits and clearances for this remains trapped in the bureaucratic webs. It is better to hope that this never happen deliberately. The main reasons that can be cited for bureaucratic inefficiency are iniquitous corruption plus rigid and vertical structure of administration that do not promote innovation in public services and central control and monitoring of public services that makes many executive decisions counterproductive because people residing in fortified palaces are at times are oblivious of ground realities.
Public opposition is one of the main reasons that decelerate and at times inhibit the implementation stage of many projects. Many a times there may not be any valid reasons behind public resistance. Vested interests that thoroughly infiltrate the local community by exploiting their obliviousness as well as what is widely called as ‘Not in my backyard syndrome’ are the typical reasons behind many public outcry against many projects.
All these factors together contributed to the creation of investment antipathetic image to the state of Kerala. Lukewarm response of the executive, vociferous response of the opposition, stiff resistance of the local population, difficulty in obtaining required clearances along with corruption has tarnished the image of the state in the international arena, directed back investment and slowing growth and development in the state. This is the main reason behind many problems the state of Kerala is facing. The acute power shortage that the state is facing as a result of lack of capacity addition, lack of development in infrastructure which includes
obsolete technologies for governance and development, congested roads and railways that create accidents are few among the many which are a direct corollary of these issues.Governmental systems for the delivery of services to the common man, ‘the Aam Adhmi’ has proved to be a failure as from the time of the princely state of Thiruvathankoor or even before it. As always rich becomes richer and poor become poorer was the condition of the state of affairs then. The reign of the government of Kerala the worthy successor of the Maharaja of Thiruvathankoor is not an exemptible period. We had many illustrious statesmen as our rulers but none could change the dismal performance. It is therefore clear that political executive that changes over a period of time is not responsible but the government machinery that do not change as such is responsible for the poor performance. Corruption that exists in the system has made it difficult to move things in government offices without paying bribe. This situation has changed grossly on account of surveillance undertaken by the anticorruption cells but could not significantly reduce it. This type of leakages that exist in the system has reduced the efficiency of delivery of services in the state. Lack of accountability and transparency in the grass root levels to highest echelons of power has resulted in this dismal performance. Lack of accountability in procedures and delay as well as none delivery of items through Public Distribution System, dismal show of the public health sector and stock outs as well as delay in delivery of medicines and life saving drugs, delay in development and implementation of infrastructure projects like roads, sanitation facilities are the reasons to grasp the failure of service delivery systems.