It is not long back since we started seeing the term “Kerala-model” in media. The Kerala-model of literacy, the Kerala-model of development, the Kerala-model of handling Nipah-virus outbreak, The Kerala-model of handling floods and currently the Kerala-model of handling the Coronavirus spread. Kerala tops many of the indices in all of India in various fields like Sex-ratio, Primary-education, Lowest pregnant mother mortality rate, foreign remittance etc… Kerala achieved the best numbers in all these indices and development mainly because of the foreign remittance it received from expats across the world; mainly the Gulf. It is estimated that more than 35 lakh expats working in Gulf countries are from Kerala.
Gulf, Expats and Kerala Politicians
Huge oil wells were discovered in Eastern Arab regions back in 1930s. Commercialisation of Oil extraction which began later made these countries the largest exporter of oil. A region handicapped by small population and labour forces sitting on a pile of gold had to open its gates for labourers from around the world. India, particularly Kerala capitalized this golden opportunity.
The money-orders from Keralites started flowing-in since the 1970s. Remittance from Gulf to Kerala crossed INR one trillion in the year 2019 which accounts to 36% of state revenue. The schools, colleges, hospitals, resorts and roads flourished in the state with these earnings. Kerala excelled in many indices through which the state-performance is usually monitored which made it one of the best states in India. The communist and congress governments which ruled the state since Kerala’s birth in 1957 shamelessly took credit for this growth. Communists leaders often compare these positive indices with national average to degrade the central governments and other states. Their cadres echo the same to the public and astonishingly people in the hundred percent literate state believe that all this is the result of administrative excellence displayed by their representatives in Kerala Assembly.
“It’s going to rain in Gulf and Kerala will catch the cold.”
In a report called “The Future of Oil and Fiscal Sustainability in the GCC Region” released by IMF, the organization warns “Oil-exporting countries may need to be ready for a post-oil future sooner rather than later.” Gulf is staring at the greatest challenge it has come across in a long while. One, they are going to run out of oil. Two, there could be a concerted global effort to address climate change issues soon and faster improvements in energy efficiency could lead to Gulf countries run out of financial wealth sooner before it will run out of oil. IMF recognizes that the Gulf countries are aware of this issue and all six countries Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE have launched ambitious plans to diversify their economies away from oil and gas. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is the high-profile of them all. So far none of these countries seem to have found solid ways to rebalance their economies. Without significant reforms than those already announced, the financial wealth of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and others could be depleted by 2034.
Oil wells will become empty because it is a known finite resource. Economy of Gulf will fall because they do not have solid plans and the world is marching towards renewable energy era. Governments will cut their spending, they may downsize its structure and more taxes will be collected from people henceforth. When this happens, along with people of Gulf all the expats from around the world who earns a living in the region will feel the heat. The governments will do everything in their power to safeguard the jobs and life of their people. The expats will be forced to go back to their own countries. Oman which ordered firing of expats from its state sector companies recently for a mere and temporary economic break-down due to Coronavirus pandemic is a sign of things to come.
Kerala, an economy majorly depended on these wealthy countries for a living will see a drastic fall. 35-50 lakhs of people could come back to the state. Industries, Research & Development wings, Factories, Corporates etc… are not something Kerala is known for. Gulf remittance, Liquor, Lottery and Tourism contributes lion’s share to the state economy. State Planning Board, Governments, Politicians and even Medias do not seem to discuss this inevitable threat.
There is no Kerala-model
Whatever the state has achieved is because of its expats and expats didn’t go to Gulf to save their state but only to earn a living and save themselves. It indirectly helped their home through investments and indirect taxes. The politicians, media, the universities who usually dance to the tune of government and mainly communist parties which is the largest political party in the state has successfully made their cadres and people Frogs in the well. Easy money from Gulf have created a lazy community. Kerala is one of the states which tops in diabetics, heart diseases, liquor consumption, depression and suicides in all of India which could be due to laziness and inactivity. The laziness of people, the carelessness of governments and communist parties who work against development have pushed the state to such poor self-sufficiency that it cannot even feed its people without support from neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu and others. Kerala-model is nothing but a bubble waiting to burst and when it does, it will shatter the very base of the state and may even lead to civil unrest, suicides, depression and crime.
Kerala State Planning Board should start working on war-foot basis and submit reports on this to the Government of Kerala. Media should stop boasting about the non-existing Kerala-model and push the opposition parties to pressurize the government. Government should take this seriously and open doors for industries and corporates. Universities in Kerala should conduct research on possible restructuring of state economy and submit the findings to the responsible authorities. Politicians should stop fooling the students and public with unnecessary strikes, protests, hartals, bandhs etc… for petty reasons. People should read more and learn that even communist countries like China have adopted capitalist-model.