Kerala is unique among Indian states with its high levels of human development. Its Human Development Index is comparable to that of developed nations. But this was not always the case and at the onset of its journey Kerala was very much like any other province in the global south. sixty years of its existence is an unparalleled story of a people’s relentless pursuit of a development model that works for everyone. Independence did not extinguish the spirit of anti-colonial struggle in the state and the post-independence era was a time of radical changes. While the rest of the country slumbered into torpor, the social relations in the state were getting rewritten. An era of progress, both social and economical, lifted the majority of the state from their abject conditions of existence. This holds true to an extent even for the historically oppressed sections of the Indian society, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Compared to the rest of India, social welfare indicators of SCs and STs in Kerala are higher. It is even true that the indicator on quality of life of Scheduled Castes in Kerala is higher than that of the general quality of life indicator of north Indian states. These achievements are not accidental. Inclusivity in the policies pursued by the Left Governments in Kerala was always a key determinant that caused this change. But despite of all the good work and good will, our efforts have fallen short of creating a truly inclusive story. Lest we forget that the economic status of the Scheduled Castes lags behind the general category in the State. The social indicators. of the Schedule Tribes are also below the general standards. While the progress made in comparison to the national standards must be acknowledged, this can be no reason for respite. (more…)