Kerala and Gujarat - A Comparison

Anand Nair
Anand Nair / Blog / 7 yrs ago /

This is a study of contrast between two of the more "successful" states of India.
Gujarat is highly industrialised; Kerala hardly so. Gujarat has attracted high levels Foreign Direct Investments (FDI); Kerala has been far less successful in this front. Gujarat has been politically "right wing"; Kerala just the opposite -- with powerful labour unions and grass roots political activism influencing public policy.
Given these differences in political and social ethos, how have the two states fared since Independence?
Economic Indicators
  Kerala Gujarat All India
Per capita net state domestic product (SDP) in Rs (2004-05) 27,048 28,355 23,222
Percentage share in total FDI approved (1991-03) 0.53 6.47 NA
Average annual growth of state domestic product in per cent (1993-94 to 2003-04) 5 5.7 5.6*
Per capita SDP in per cent (1993-94 to 2003-04) 4.1 3.6 3.8*
Percentage of population below poverty line (1999-00) 12.72 14.07 26.1
Range of min wages for unskilled workers in Rs (2005) 72-189 50-99 61-115
Job-seekers registered with employment exchanges in thousands (2003) 3635.1 998.1 41388.7
Percentage employment share (public/private, 2001-02) 52.8/47.2 53.6/46.4 69.0/31.0
Percentage of urban population (2001) 25.96 37.3 27.81
How Women-Friendly?
  Kerala Gujarat All India
No. of females per 1,000 males (’01 census) 1058 920 933
Juvenile (0-6) sex ratio (2001) 963 878 927
Mean age for marriage (2004) 22.9 20.5 20.4
Female literacy rate (2001) 87.7 57.8 53.7
Currently married women who usually participate in household decisions in per cent 62.5 56.7 52.5
Women who have experienced spousal violence in per cent 16.4 27.6 37.2
Percentage of women with more than 10 years of education 49 24 22
Percentage of women’s employment to total employment (2003) 39.3 12.7 18.1*
Media, Roads, Slum and Voting
  Kerala Gujarat All India
Percentage with regular exposure to media (TV, radio, newspaper at least once a week) 97 84 80
Percentage of slum population to total urban population (2001) 0.8 9.9 15
Teledensity per 100 persons (May 2007) 35.1 25.5 19.3
Total road length (km) per 100 sq km (2002) 386.8 70.2 74.7
Voting percentage (2004 elections) 71.45 45.2 58.1
  Kerala Gujarat All India
Life expectancy at birth (1999-2003, M/F) 70.9/76 62.5/64.6 61.8/63.5
Number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births in the last five years 15 50 57
Institutional deliveries in the last three years in per cent 100 55 41
Mothers who had at least three antenatal care visits for their last birth in per cent 93.9 64.9 50.7
Vaccination coverage in per cent 75 45 44
Children age 6-35 months who are anaemic in per cent 55.7 80.1 79.2
Population served per government hospital bed 1,172 1,544 2,257
Children under 3 who are underweight in per cent 29 47 46
Per capita expenditure on health in Rs (2001-02) 1,858 816 997
  Kerala Gujarat All India
Percentage of households that:
Have a television 67.7 53.8 44.2
Have a motorised vehicle 24.7 30.2 18.6
Live in a pucca house 84.1 56.4 41.4
Have access to a toilet facility 96 54.6 44.5
Use piped drinking water 24.6 72.7 42
Have electricity 91 89.3 67.9
  Kerala Gujarat
Literacy rate (2001 census) 90.9 69.1
Percentage of schools with one teacher 0.1 5.7
No. of students for each teacher 26 36
Transition rate from primary to upper primary in per cent 86.6 82.7
Average classrooms in each school 10.5 4.8
Average number of instructional days 181 210
Percentage who go on to Grade V 108.5 78.9
Net primary enrolment ratio 64.1 75.9
Dropouts (Grade I-V) in per cent 5.8 2.2
Source: Outlook India dated 16 July 2007
Anand Nair

Anand Nair / / 9 months ago
Anand Nair


I do wish you had given references for the source of your information, enabling the readers to cross-check your (misleadingly stated) claims and your hasty conclusion, "Kerala is hardly the human welfare paradise"!

As a matter of fact, Kerala has the lowest rate of murder among all states of India (1.1 against Gujarat's 1.9). And rates of theft are below national average. In case of dowry deaths too Kerala's 0.1 is seven times lower than the national figure!

Where Kerala fares badly are on cheating (little less than double the national average), criminal rioting (31.4 against the national 6.2), criminal hurt (60.7 against the national 27.7), arson (1.6 against 1.0), rape (2.9 against 2.1), assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty (10.7 against 3.7) and insults related to the modesty of women (1.4, against 0.8).

From the above, we can see that Kerala does far better than India in case of crimes that are impossible (or less likely to) be under-reported, such as murder/ theft/ dowry deaths. On these three important parameters, Kerala is indeed a "human welfare paradise" (compared to the other states)!!

The "high crime rates" of Kerala are on parameters that depend heavily on reporting of these by the victims and the subsequent filing of FIRs by the Police -- such as cheating, criminal hurt, crimes against women etc.

What ought to be evident (to even a non-sociologist) is that these are precisely the type of crimes that are most likely to go unreported/ unpunished in states where the people (particularly, the women) are poor, uneducated, and politically unempowered.

That such crime are highly reported (and presumably acted upon by the Police) in Kerala is what is expected -- given the high level of Human Development Index of the State.

Kerala may yet be a distance away from paradise. But it is sufficiently closer to this compared to other states -- which is perhaps a reflection of the effectiveness of the Kerala Model of development.

What do you say?


Anand Nair / / 12 months ago
Anand Nair

Jidev Jamwal,

This blog itself was posted 6 years back -- and had based the conclusions on the latest data then available!

But your question suggests that more recent data will reveal a different picture. You could NOT be more wrong!

Let us look at the "Inequality adjusted Human Development Index for India’s States" as published by the UNDP. as recently as 2011-

a) Income per Capita (PPP 2008 US $) :-

* Kerala -- US$ 5262.89
* Gujarat -- US$ 3782.87

b) Life expectancy at Birth

* Kerala -- 74 Years
* Gujarat -- 64.1 Years

c) Human Development Index

* Kerala -- 0.625 (1st Rank)
* Gujarat -- 0.514 (8th Rank)


What we see is that even by data available in 2011, Kerala continues to outperform Gujarat not only in Human Development Index (of which GDP too is a component), but also in Per Capita Income, and Life Expectancy!

Shows how over-rated is the so called governance ability of Narendra Modi! Also indicates the failure of the "trickle down model" for economic development....


Ishan / / 9 months ago

if Kerala has benefited from better education, health and women's education, why is its crime rate (especially against women) so far above the national average? Of the nine parameters of crime studied murder, hurt, rapes, assaults on women, insulting modesty of women, cruelty by husband, riots, cheating and theft Kerala leaves the national averages behind by a mile on seven of them. Kerala is hardly the human welfare paradise which your "LATEST STATS" point towards..

JaidevJamwal / / 12 months ago

these stats are 8 to 12 years old. what's the point

Anand Nair / / 1 year ago
Anand Nair

At the India Today Conclave, Modi claimed that the National Sample Survey found persistent poverty in Gujarat -- because of poor Biharis etc who work in the factories of Ahmedabad and Surat!

What does this mean? That it is okay with Modi that workers in these factories are paid far below the legally mandated minimum wages. In Kerala too almost all manual labourers come from Bihar, Orissa etc. But the wages they get are such so as not to cause the HDI of Kerala to lowered by the poverty of the migrant workers.

Modi showed utter callousness about the prevalence of malnutrition among poor people of Gujarat. He talks about malnutrition as if this is what is suffered by kids who refuse to drink milk despite goading by rich parents; and by rich young girls who control their diet to retain slim figures.

He had said as much earlier to an American journalist. And now he repeated the same nonsense at the India Today Conclave. And yet, so many in the middle class all over India clamour to have this man as the Prime Minister of India. Shame!

Anand Nair / / 1 year ago
Anand Nair

Krishnan Bala,

Those who sweep the floors in Dubai and in Kerala are paid well for their labours. So what is there to grudge about this?

In Gujarat too people sweep the floors -- but the sweepers are paid a pittance for their efforts. Is it that paying living wages to people who do "dirty jobs" is against the law of nature?

Anand Nair / / 1 year ago
Anand Nair

Krishnan Bala,

My last comment showed that Krishnakumar is factually wrong -- blinded by his admiration for a flawed model for development. You go on to swallow his bad argument and say, "The individual debt average is the real pointer". If so, please tell that Narendra Modi and to Manmohan Singh! I have given references to show that Gujarat and "all India" have higher per capta debt than Kerala.

And to Kerala's credit, the governments there have apparently us USED the debt more efficiently than by the Gujarat government.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul is the principle of graded taxation! Just last month, we saw the news of how Obama is to introduce tax on the super rich in that country. You may read about this at:- Let me quote:-

"President Obama is right to insist on the 'Buffett rule': Millionaires should not be paying income tax at a rate lower than their secretaries'. But correcting this inequity is only a small step toward fairness.

The more serious inequality problem facing the United States involves overall wealth, not just income. While the top 1% of Americans earned 21% of the nation's income, they owned a staggering 35% of the wealth in 2006-07, the most recent year for which statistics are available. We should be taxing that wealth directly, and not merely focusing on million-dollar incomes."

Modi too is robbing Peter to pay Paul. What makes Modi's action particularly cruel and insensitive is the fact that here Peter is the poor man, and Paul the billionaire...

May be, this lack of emapthy for the poorer people (as in the denigration of people who "sweep the floor in Dubai air ports") shows the persistent cultural hold of the caste system. It is this ideology drives Modi to spend government money to dole out concessions to Adanis and the Tatas while the poor people have to contend with low minimum wages and severe malnutrition. According to this social attitude, It is "the law of nature" that the poor are poor and the rich are rich -- this being the result of "the eternal law of karma". What can we expect from some one whose ideology is hindutva?


Praveenkumar Jayanna / / 2 months ago
Praveenkumar Jayanna

Yo Ananda nair everyone knows wt keralians do for money in Arab and golf countries, don't say much about Modi! I went on Kerala tourist places i know how u people loot with the tourists! In Kerala there is no humanity at all

Anand Nair / / 1 year ago
Anand Nair

Krishnakumar Nair,

I happy that you acknowledge the "growth of Kerala"! But you have sadly missed the main point that I make!

No, I am NOT making claims as to what led up to the high HDI in the State! Nor am I highlighting the achievements of the "Kerala Model" in isolation.

I am COMPARING Kerala's success with the poor performance of Gujarat. Thus, besides offering your own thesis as to what led up to Kerala's success, you also need to explain Gujarat's failure! But you chose to remain silent on that!

Your claim on what resulted in Kerala's better performance (compared to Gujarat) would seem to imply that Gujaratis lack "drive" -- and that they are disinclined "to travel out to find a job" and would rather depend "on their government to provide one"! You are of course miserably wrong on both counts. Gujaratis are just as (if not more) enterprising as Keralites; and the Gujarati just as much wanderlust as the Malayali. (Along with Keralites and Punjabis, Gujaratis show great propensity to travel around the world in search of better fortunes!)

And you seem to throw figures rather flippantly merely to buttress your cherished dogma -- and then go on to make the wrong inference. When you say Kerala's Per Capita Debt is "Rs. 24,000/-", why don't yo compare this with that of Gujarat? Let me help by quoting from :-

"The state’s total public debt is projected to rise further by Rs. 20,000 crore to reach Rs. 159,552 crore by the end of 2013-14, which would translate into a per capita debt of Rs. 26,400 on each Gujarati."

And India's per capita debt is Rs 33,000 ( Which is higher than that of Kerala's (contrary to your claim) and also higher than Gujarat's.

And whatever may be the causes that led up to high HDI in Kerala, and the much lower HDI in Gujarat (despite higher GDP), the fact is that this has happened in spite of Kerala politicians (whom you revile) and despite "strikes, disturbances & destruction". Which means that the type of politicians that Kerala has, and the "strikes" are not AS BAD as you think! Despite these, Kerala has achieved high HDI! Right?

Historically, the condition of the common man has improved ONLY as a result of popular movements and struggles -- anywhere in the world. Never has this happened as a result of a trickle down as some people are given the freedom (and concessions, as in Gujarat) to make obscene profits.

You are free to disagree with me. But Kerala's practical success denies you the pleasure or pointing out the State's "failure" -- in order to bash our politicians and our social struggles!

The proof of the pudding is in the eating!


Krishnan Bala / / 1 year ago
Krishnan Bala

Dear Anand,
I think that Krishna Kumar has a valid point here. The individual debt average is the real pointer and it goes to show how the state may have morphed the HDI by implementing policies like"robbing Peter to pay Paul " ! If there is real generation of wealth and its equitable distribution, many states in India would have qued up north of Walayar to learn the tricks of the trade rather than shun investing in the state, which includes the natives ! It will be even interesting to learn that the cost of living in the National Capital is cheaper than living even in rural Kerala ! Modi may not be a perfect political icon but the state was receptive to ideas in Co-operative industry much earlier, pioneered by Kurien and Paul Pothen who are great Keralites whose ideas did not sell in their native land ! What is the fate of MILMA and FACT in your state ? What percentage of inward remittance in Gujarat goes to improve their well being ? Figures do not speak but actual living in the respective place does ! Keralites sweep the floor in Dubai air ports but will expect a "Pondy" to do the job at home !