Socio-Religious Reform Movements, the Process of Democratization and Human Development: The Case of Kerala, South-West India

  • P. K. Michael Tharakan
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


The state of Kerala in the south-west has done surprisingly well in terms of quality of life and human development indicators in comparison with the rest of India. While one estimate of the human development index (HDI) was 0.375 for all India, it was 0.675 for Kerala, the highest for any major Indian state1 (Shah, 1993, pp. 170–1). Since the HDI is essentially a weighted average of per capita income and certain basic capabilities such as literacy and life expectancy (Tilak, 1991, pp. 132–8), availability, accessibility and the rate of utilization of educational and health services among the measured population become significant. It is seen in the case of Indian data that the states with high human resources development (HRD) levels, measured in terms of the stock of human capital as average years of schooling, have had high growth of real state domestic produce (SDP) too. They show favourable net changes in the number of persons under the poverty line. Therefore, it could be surmised that HRD and HDI are highly correlated, i.e. one can expect relatively high economic growth rates and low poverty rates where HRD levels are high (Shah, 1993, pp. 170–1). The relative achievements of Kerala in education and health services are self-evident from the HDI measurement itself. It is additionally significant that these took place at a time when economic growth in this state was well below the Indian average.2 In this chapter, an attempt is made to explain these achievements — evidently an ‘exception to the rule’ (Tharakan, 1985) as far as an Indian state is concerned — by focusing on the set of factors which brought them about and the sequence in which they unfolded.


Human Development Index Basic Service Major State Reform Movement Public Health Education 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998
Selection and editorial matter © Lars Rudebeck, Olle Törnquist and Virgilio Rojas 1996, 1998 Text © Macmillan Press Ltd 1998

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  • P. K. Michael Tharakan

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