|Malankara Dam's reservoir [in Kerala, a few km from my house]|
Kerala is quite different from the other states in India. The difference is not just about literacy or economic development or health infrastructure. There is much else that marks out Kerala as unique.
Kerala’s religious demography comes to mind first. According to the 2011 census, 55% of people in Kerala are Hindus, 27% are Muslims and 18% are Christians. Yet Kerala is seen by a lot of Indians as a Christian state if only because the state consistently opposed the kind of communal politics played by the BJP. Even Mr Modi’s histrionics failed to move the Malayali hearts.
Mr Modi took his own revenge on the state too. Kerala was hit by severe floods in 2018 and 2019. The Modi government pretended not to see the devastation. Even the state government’s pleas for deserved assistance in a federal system fell on deaf ears. Let alone that, Mr Modi went to the extent of denying the help that came from foreign nations. He was right to say that India does not accept foreign aid as a policy. But he was immensely wrong in refusing to extend the required assistance to the state in the direst times. And Malayalis don’t forget; after all, the elephant is the state’s official animal.
When Mr Modi’s party and its thugs ravaged North India with the vehemence of savage invaders in the name of the holy cow and its excreta, the Malayalis filled the social media with trolls that carried the aroma of beef roast. When Mr Modi and his party tried to impose Hindi and its culture on the whole of India, the Malayalis learnt English and took up jobs abroad. Today the economy of the state is held up largely by the money sent from abroad by Malayalis.
One look at the government hospitals in Kerala alone will convince anyone from outside the state about the state’s difference from the rest of the country. The government hospitals in the state are run with meticulous efficiency and hygiene and they can compete with any private hospital. And they provide absolutely free treatment to every patient irrespective of their economic status.
Kerala leads in many ways without making much fuss about it. We don’t spend millions of rupees advertising our achievements. We spend our money to do something good for the people, especially the backward classes. You won’t find any slum in Kerala. You won’t find visible poverty. The government cares for the people. I don’t think there is any other state in the country which spends a good bit of its revenue on migrant labourers, for their education as well as physical welfare. There are about 35 lakh migrant workers in the state.
When COVID-19 hit the country, it was Kerala that showed the way. The state imposed restrictions on people’s movement even before the country did. The state told the people what to do and what not to. The state followed every person who came from outside and quarantined everyone who was suspected of infection. The state made free food available to all the people irrespective of their economic status much before the country thought of doing the same.
That’s how Kerala is different. There’s a lot more to say. But I don’t want to sound boastful. I wrote this in response to fellow blogger Anita’s prompt for this week’s Indispire: What is that one thing you would like to share about your village, city or state that many are not aware? Do you try to create awareness? #StateInfo