pippala leaf

February 7, 2005

God’s own country and a Saturday night debate…

Filed under: Uncategorized — MBN @ 12:52 am

We friends had an interesting debate yesterday. The debate was mainly about Kerala’s economic and social condition vis-a-vis other states of India.

One group of participants in the debate argued that the yardstick of ‘progress’ needs to be measured in terms of the standard of living of a society’s lowest common denominator. On that, Kerala fare much better than the other states. For example, statistics shows that Kerala has the largest cell phone users and car owners in the whole of India, an indicator of a high standard of living. One reason attribute to this is the high labor cost. A carpenter in Kerala may charge Rs 300 for one day, whereas in other states it is way much lower. With high standard of living comes high labor cost. Some of the debaters compared this with the high standard of living, high labour cost and outsourcing scenario currently exits in United States. In fact from the last twenty years Kerala has been “out-sourcing” most of the manufacturing to other states. In other words Kerala has been importing pin to peacock from other states.

But the major debate point was whether Kerala economy could sustain further. Major source of Kerala’s revenue comes from Liquor and Non-Resident Indians (mainly from gulf countries). But that source is drying up fast. The traditional export industries are facing fierce competition and many of them faces huge loss and close down. The educated and skilled people migrate to other states and countries seeking employment opportunities. The government does not have money in treasury. (As per the 2005 Kerala state budget the state revenue is Rs. 16623 crores and expenditure is Rs. 20696 crores. 91% of the revenue income goes for paying salary, pension, interest etc.). Given the track record of corruption and inefficiency, some of other participants in the debate expressed their doubts about the ability of the govt. to generate new sources of revenue. External investors shy away from Kerala due to the fear of militant trade unionism (which is an offshoot of the awareness generated in the common man about their rights by the communist parties).

Conclusion of the debate: One group saw no light in the tunnel while the other group laid their expectation on the income that generates from the ‘traditional’ export of skilled labour force.

Future will tell the fate of God’s own country.


1 Comment »

  1. hello!

    ur blog on this topic helped me in getting new ideas for a debate.
    thank u.

    Comment by Prashanth — March 22, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

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