A critical analysis of 12th Plan Approach Paper of Kerala
By Anju Radhakrishnan
Kerala State is in the south western part of India and it is blessed with an average annual rainfall of 3,000 mm and this is nearly double the national average annual rainfall. It has a highly educated and skilled population, a State with 70 per cent of the total land area is cultivable and only 0.5 per cent is barren and uncultivable, a State with large number of water bodies and rivers in almost all parts. But the table below shows that the governments in the past had totally neglected the production of food crops in Kerala.
This leads to the situation that for more than 90 per cent of the State’s requirements of food grains, it depends on other Indian states. The productivity of rice in Kerala is above national average and just below the well known rice producing states in India.
For the last 8-9 years, the price of paddy per quintal increased only by 52.69 per cent. During the same period the price of coconut showed a negative growth rate of -2.52 per cent but the price of rubber increased by 219 per cent. The government in the past never addressed this poor situation of paddy and coconut growers in Kerala. No one was here in the coalition politics of Kerala to address this widening inequality between farmers of different crops. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure a level playing field to the producers of different crops especially the producers of foodgrains.
Cattle census conducted in 1996 shows that Kerala had 11.5 lakh cows. It reduced to 8.08 lakh cows in 2007 Cattle census. That is almost 3.4 lakh cows disappeared. Cattle population of Kerala was 33.96 lakh in 1996 declined to 21.22 lakh in 2003 and further to 17.19 lakh by 2006. The human population of Kerala is 2.75 per cent of the national population; (National population is 121 crore, Kerala’s population is 3.33 crore) but the cattle population of Kerala is less than 1 per cent of the national cattle population. National cattle population is nearly 20 crore. National population is 121 crore. So the cattle – human ratio is 1/6. But in Kerala it is 1/19. This shows that the cattle-human ratio of Kerala was just 1/3 as much as the national ratio. This is a serious ecological issue for Kerala. Per capita availability of milk in Kerala is 197 (gms/day) was 2009 compared to 957 (gms/day) in Punjab, 645 (gms/day) in Haryana and 258 (gms/day) at the national level.
For the last 4-5 years, the milk production in Kerala has increased only by 18.80 per cent but in other states like Andhra Pradesh it has increased by 26 per cent and in Gujarat by 20 per cent. Egg production growth rate for the same period in Kerala was 25.68 per cent. In Gujarat it was 119 per cent, Haryana 152 per cent and Tamil Nadu 42 per cent.
Sl.No Crops Area (‘000 Ha.) Production(‘000 Tns)
1970-71 2009-10 1970-71 2009-10
1 Rice 876 234 1298 598
2 Tapioca 294 74 4617 2525
3 Coconut 719 778 3981 5667
4 Rubber 207 (1975-76) 525 127 745
As per the survey conducted by the Department of Economics and Statistics in 2006, there were 4,904 slaughter houses in Kerala of which the authorised slaughter houses were only 1,490 (30.38 per cent).Also of the total 6,489 poultry stalls, registered were only 2,124 (32 per cent). Now there is wide gap in the requirement and production of egg and milk. A strategy needs to be adopted to enhance production of milk and eggs. The wishes and aspirations of milk producers in Kerala was totally neglected by the successive governments as cattle rearing became unsustainable and uneconomic due to frequent hike in the prices of fodder items and as a result of this, the increase in the price of milk has not benefitted the farmers. So the end result is high price of milk and unavailability of good quality milk to the children. The UDF and LDF have been playing the successful game of cheating both producers and consumers of milk. For the last five years, milk price increased by only by 35 per cent and during the same period fodder price increased much higher than rate of increased milk price. So absolutely there is negative benefit to both producers and consumers of milk. The last LDF government was hiking the milk price in disguise of helping the poor milk producers but they did nothing to regulate the price of fodder. In addition to it, the declining cultivation of paddy led to raring cattle becoming very uneconomic. As a result of this Kerala is the only State among the leading states of Indian union that has been showing continuous decline in per capita availability of milk. The available data shows that in 1950s and 1960s and even upto early 1990s Kerala had nearly doubled the growth rate of milk production when compared to the national level.
But in Kerala, the per capita liquor consumption has been very high and enjoying the highest position among the states. The per capita liquor consumption was 11.1 litre/per person in 2010 and it is ahead of Punjab now. Some data shows that just two years back Kerala was behind the United States in per capita consumption of liquor and now it is ahead of the US. The State government is getting more than Rs 6,000 crore by liquor tax alone.
Income from fisheries sector
During the last 6 years, the GSDP of Kerala has increased nearly 95 per cent. But the share of fishing (based on 2004-05 prices) increased only by 49 per cent. The percentage share of fisheries sector in GSDP declined to 1.17 per cent from 1.52 per cent during the same period. The share of primary sector to GSDP declined to less than 15 per cent from 17.86 per cent in the same period. Agriculture alone has become less than 12 per cent of SDP of Kerala and this trend shows that agriculture may disappear from Kerala in the near future.
Sabarimala, Guruvayoor, Padmanabhaswamy and Attukal temples
Laws to control Hindu temples passed by the British Indian Government were unfortunately retained by the Kerala Government. The Government takeover of Hindu temples is discriminatory, violates principles of secularism, and deprives the Hindu community of their constitutional rights (Article 25 and Article 26) to manage their own religious affairs without government interference. The temple money should be used for the religious education of Hindu children and successful completion of formal education of poor Hindu children, providing better amenities for pilgrims including health and protecting their life and belongings. In this context we must remember the statement made by Shri Pinarayi Vijayan (The State Secretary of CPM) about the wealth found in the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple. We should take a stand that the Hindu temples are only for Hindus and especially for the theists in the community. The Government should remember that the Hindus too have constitutional rights to manage their temples.
The devotees coming to Sabarimalai and other holy places of Kerala should also be perceived as a part of tourism. The western mind of our policy makers consider travelling only for material pleasure/worldly pleasures as tourism. Indian situation/Kerala situation is different. For thousands of years, our people have been making long journeys from Rameshwaram to Amarnath or from Kanyakumari to Varanasi. Western theories/definitions of tourism are unable to explain this journey with great sacrifice, dedication, self-control and simplicity. So the devotees coming to Sabarimalai, Guruvayoor or Attukal should be given an assurance that their life, health and wealth are safe in Kerala. The government should ensure basic amenities, drinking water, quality food at a very less price and basic medical facilities. The government should avoid a street fight between the authorities of Corporation and Devaswam. This has been going on in Thiruvananthapuram even if it is the assembly constituency of the concerned Minister. The government should have avoided it. The devotees coming to Sabarimalai are approximately 3 crore per year and it is almost equal to the total population of Kerala.
The Attukal Ponkala has become a wonder in the world with more than 25 lakh women participate every year. But for ensuring enough drinking water and comfortable travelling, the Kerala Government has failed. For the devotees, their return journey has become very miserable. Sufficient numbers of buses are not available and there has been poor communication from the side of government authorities.
Demographically insignificant Hindu communities
The present economic and political order is the survival of the fittest or survival of the richest and largest vote banks. It is an order of Economic Darwinism. In this order, socially and economically backward small castes and community groups such as Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes in Kerala (Both less than 10 per cent of Kerala population), Moothan Community in Palakkad, Chaliyar/Saliyar Community, Goan Brahmins, Veera Shaiva Community in many parts of Kerala, Vanika Vaisyas and many other small communities in Kerala have been politically marginalised and socially isolated. The genuine demands of these communities have not been addressed by the ‘majority-run’ past Governments in Kerala. So it is the paramount and timely responsibility of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala to highlight their urgent problems. These communities are not in the forefront of economic, political and social life of Kerala. They are voiceless and powerless. These communities never benefited much from the land reforms and many vital socio-economic and political changes that took place in Kerala.
Health and education
In the social sector especially in education and health, the government is highly charged with orthodox-neo-liberal market fundamentalism. This is in tune with the government of India’s approach that we can have private/foreign educational institutions even on profit basis also and this is to invalidate the present age old practice of not-for-profit basis.
It appears that the people who were engaged in the preparation of the Draft Paper of the State Planning Board didn’t have any idea about some widely discussed concepts in development economics. This is very clear from the 9th and 10th lines of page number 13 of the approach paper (English version). They didn’t knew what is PQLI and it seems that they copied it from the approach paper of some backward State of Indian Union.
So the Government of Kerala should make some serious re-thinking on the priorities it fixed for the 12th Five Year Plan.