Kerela’s development has nothing to do with Communism or Socialist Policies.. it would seem. Excerpts from “The Dakshina Kannada Model” (written almost five years ago; emphasis added):

Everyone talks of the Kerala model, but to the north of Kerala lie two districts called Dakshina Kannada (headquarters: Mangalore) and Udupi, which, if I am not wrong, are doing just as well as, if not better than, Kerala.

…The state and the district have a lot in common.

…More importantly, the socio-economic profile is similar. People have similar attitudes towards education. The schools in Mangalore are supposed to be the best in Karnataka…Education of women is given a much higher value than in the rest of the state.

People’s social and political awareness is also quite high. Just as the Keralites did, the people of DK too routinely fight against mega-projects that threaten to destroy their environment.

But this is where they differ. While the increased political awareness of the Mallus ends up as support for Communism, in DK, it does not. The people of DK, have, to my knowledge, never ever voted Communist.

That brings us to the Dakshina Kannada model. I propose that someone should formally study for DK the socio-economic indicators that make Kerala such a success story. My prediction is that Kerala and DK will end up in a dead heat. (For example, DK achieved full literacy just a few years after Kerala)

The result will be interesting because what we have is a natural experiment that is controlled for practically everything except what we want to measure – whether the communist governments actually made much difference. If DK turns out to be as good as Kerala, then we can say that it was the culture of the citizens that resulted in good governance and not the fact that Kerala got blessed with an enlightened government. It will also mean that the net effect of the communists on Kerala was negative, because the culture of strikes they brought in blocked industrialization and turned Kerala into a bodyshopper for Dubai.

A slightly edited version was carried in the Mint, the concluding lines of which are worth repeating:

If DK turns out to be as good as Kerala, then we will know that an aware citizenry can gift to itself the same benefits of health and education without the need for an overactive government that hobbles them in other ways.

It will mean an end to the canard of the “Kerala Model”—and not a moment too soon.

Comments, thoughts welcome as always..although I may not be able to respond (pl see my revised comments policy). Thanks