Monday, October 8, 2012


Prof. Joseph K. Alexander

Kerala has more potential for rapid economic growth, full employment, more per capita income  and well being than Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka or Tamil Nadu. The high literacy (93.91 %), ubiquitous health care centers & facilities, longevity nearing 80, inflow of Rs. 40,000 crores per annum as expatriate’s  remittances, very high consumption expenditure, highly educated  & skilled unemployed  (9 %), a cleaner and transparent governance of the State  and better industrial relations augur a high kink in the growth graph of the State. Despite this favorable ambience, the Kerala phenomenon of high HDI (Human development Index) with growth less agriculture and industrial sectors is paradoxical. Its HDI is 0.0920. It is equal to the highest ranked country of the World- Norway. Yet its economy is languishing and its citizens are having an income much below their potential. I Place the LDF- UDF conflictive “politricks “as the main cause of this paradox.
Since the formation of the Kerala State on 1-11-1956, we had voted up thirteen legislature Assemblies and 21 ministries into power. There were 7 interludes of Presidential rule due to administration failures and lack of majority on the floor. The first four Govts. were majority party administrations. M/s E. M. S. Namoodiripad (CPI), Pattom ThanuPIlla (PSP), R. Sankar (INI) and of EMS (CPM) were the chief ministers.
 The next Govt. of Sri, Achutha Menon was a coalition ministry of LDF (Left Democratic Government). It lasted only 10 months. He formed a new coalition ministry on 4-10-1970. It went to its full term. Of the 21 ministries only four lasted the full five year term. Menon’s was the first. After this ministry, all the ministries in Kerala were either of the LDF or of the UDF (United Democratic Front).
This new phenomenon is the splitting of political parties into splinter groups to gain more representation seats in the ministry and freedom to collect more kick backs from the Govt. spending of the various departments.  For every purchase of the Govt. there is a normal discount or negotiated higher discount.  This is never accounted.  No wonder, Coalition ministries are now in vogue in all the Indian States and at the Center
 In Kerala the LDF- UDF-LDF swing in the election-voting make the parties to be unscrupulous in leaving or joining a new coalition. What they want is the power and the kick backs. I am not saying that all politicians are corrupt. There must be experts for this in each group. In this conflicting milieu the parties oppose those in power to vote them out. For that, they oppose all programmes good and bad and make the good ones to appear bad in the eyes of the ranks. This is done by all, though more vociferously and effectively by the LDF.
 While in other States, the MPs and MLAs of all hues join together to wring out funds and projects from the Central Government or outsiders, in Kerala the conflict is conspicuously displayed by opposing the projects brought up by either groups. Sri. T .V. Thomas, (CPI), when he was industries minister of Kerala, conducted a foreign tour to invite investments to Kerala. Sri. A K Antony conducted a GIM (Global Investment Meet) in 2003 and brought in around Rs. 26000 cr. worth MOUs for new investments in Kerala.   The negotiations were forced to drag on for years. Now Mr.OOmmen Chandy conducted an “Emerging Kerala 2012” meet a couple of weeks ago. A number of MOUS are emerging. But the LDF started opposing it from the beginning and the flavor of the meet is forced to dissipate. Opposing everything for the sake of the Party is the Politricks. This is the curse of Kerala that prevent it from fast forward march of Economic growth. Even today it is our fate that we depend on other States for everything we need and consume.


Prof Joseph K. Alexander
In quantity constrained regime like India where the demand for services from the 121 crores  of citizens far exceed its supply, Government services are bound to be below par and inefficient. This essentially leads to corruption and under the table deals and or influential interference to get out of priority services from the scanty suppliers and supply points. A-moral officers inclined to corruption from the lowest category to the head of the executive, judiciary and legislature fatten themselves on this under the counter unearned income. The marginalized and less empowered become more relegated and poor. The remedy is to increase the supply of services to match the ever increasing demand for them. This is well-neigh impossible even for the less populated and more advanced nations. Another alternative is to make every service point and officer in charge more efficient and involved. In these days of democracy verging on to “mobocracy” and officers who are politically compartmentalized and believe in “sarkar karyam murapola”, this is insurmountable.
All tall claims of manifestos of political parties and promises made by politicians  in press conferences are bunkum and barren. Administrative Reforms Commissions and their recommendations ;decentralization of governance to LSGs; declaration of the charter of rights of  citizens; civil service reforms; measurers to create transparency in governance; attempts to ensure accountability, fair play and honesty of officers; procedural reforms to get rid of  un-necessary rules, regulations controls and simplification of procedures; one-window delivery system; e-governance, inter-connectivity of offices, and e-filing and e-delivery of services  are some of the measures undertaken to induct good governance. More can be added to this list to better service delivery to citizens. The aim is to make each service point and delivery officer more efficient. It is our experience that Kerala’s political climate does not permit us to make these half-hearted measures to achieve their objective.
What is required are:
1.      An informed citizenry who realize that these are objectives that cannot be achieved in a short period. It requires sacrifice of some immediate comforts to achieve the distant goals. So they should weigh the benefits with the sacrifices before jumping to delaying and opposing tactics.  
2.      No Government will be able to supply all the services required or demanded by the people. Attempts to do so by the British Government and communist countries proved a thorough failure. Hence all governments resort to Public Private Partnership (PPP). I have seen for example, very good roads and transport systems in foreign countries where people pay tolls at every point of the system.
These are the methods to overcome the insuperables. May our politicians have wisdom to bring this awareness to their ranks in Kerala?


Urban govt. SERVICES AND economic growth
In earlier societies Govt. functions were mere law & order and protection of citizens from external attacks. Origin of Kings is explained in Bible Book: Judges .Gideon’s duty was only these two. Now Democratic Govts. are of the people, for the people and by the people. Well being of the citizens is the function of the State. State has also become the facilitator of economic welfare. In this context delivery of the services by all LSGs is important. Nearly 30 crores of people of India are below poverty line and nine crores of them live in urban areas. In Kerala there are 83.6 lakhs of them in urban areas. Of them 64,556 live in the slums of cities.
More important of the services done by the urban Govt.s for eradication of poverty and slums are:  Supply of potable water and sewerage system; sanitation and public health care; housing projects; education facilities; road connectivity; good and rapid mass transport  facilities;  Solid waste management etc.
Central Govt., State Govt.s and Urban Govt.s along with different departments of these Govt.s have to coordinate their activities to provide these services.  Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is thus a tripartite initiative of Govt. of India.  For some of these schemes they have spent in 2005-2011 Rs. One billion (100,000 crores.) We have tackled only a part of the problem.  Around Rs. 30 to 40 thousand crores per annum is required to continue this work. New services like disaster management of floods, famines, fire, Plague and terrorist activities await to be included into the group of services: for which more funds have to be found out. Rajiv Awas Yojana is a new initiative to create slum free cities.
These massive urban oriented spending is bound to be catalytic for speedy economic growth in the cities and in the country. The increase in infrastructure of the type mentioned above will certainly provide more employment, productivity and income. This ought to further catapult our growth and income multiplier times. So I am of firm opinion that this increased public expenditure is a necessity to pull India out of the low productivity syndrome to which we are just now escalating. The withdrawal of the unbearable subsidy system for food to condoms must be substantially reduced to enable the Govt.  to spent more on provision of real services to the needy in the society.
 This enormous investment cannot be undertaken by any Govt. Thus financing urban problems to eradicate poverty and slums acquire a new dimension. Three sources of financing are feasible.
1.       Monetisation of land by sale, lease or developer-execution projects
2.       Public-Private-participation projects
3.       Mobilisation of community resources.
All three face severe opposition in Kerala. Bhoo-Mafia is the cry against the first. Privatization and aiding the rich to amass more is the opposition to the second. The third is opposed by a badal organization and conflictive politics.
Kudumbashree is the largest women’s movement in Asia. It has organized nearly 38 lakhs of poor families into two lakhs neighborhood groups for self employment, health, housing, social service and so on. It mobilized among them Rs.1688 cr. and disbursed Rs. 4195 cr. as loans to 25000 women to start their production units. Janashree is a “badal “organization of recent origin. Political parties try to create exclusivism in either and consequently poke spanner in their wheels. This is another bane of conflictive politics of Kerala.
Whoever pokes such spanners into the wheels of economic growth are traitors.   Transparency International said in 2005 that Kerala is the least corrupt of the Indian States. The Bhoo-mafia, Manal-mafia, corrupt Police {Justice Benjamin Koshy said with statistics of complaints received}, corrupt politicians, bureaucracy, contractors and similar breed who roll in ill-gotten wealth are traitors of the State.    Unless we wipe the State of such traitors and the UDF-LDF conflictive politics, we cannot make the urban Govt. spending to reach the targeted population. Kerala may not come out of the phenomenon of growth less economy of high HDI.