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Dependence on Globalization


Define Irony: Malayalees opposing globalization.

The Kerala model of development, as an alternative to market economy has been touted by economists like Amartya Sen, but it turns out that the money order economy of Kerala is not practically applicable to any part of the world, including Kerala.

Plagued by chronic unemployment, more Keralites than ever work abroad, often at sun-scorched jobs in the Persian Gulf that pay about $1 an hour and keep them from their families for years. The cash flowing home now helps support nearly one Kerala resident in three. That has some local scholars rewriting the Kerala story: far from escaping capitalism, they say, this celebrated corner of the developing world is painfully dependent on it.

Without migrant earnings, critics say, the state’s luster could not be sustained. The $5 billion that Keralite migrants send home augment the state’s economic output by nearly 25 percent. Migrants’ families are three times as likely as those of nonmigrants to live in superior housing, and about twice as likely to have telephones, refrigerators and cars. Men seeking wives place newspaper ads, describing themselves as “handsome, teetotaler, foreign-employed” or “God-fearing and working in Dubai.” [Jobs Abroad Support ‘Model’ State in India (via email from Mohan)]

One Response to Dependence on Globalization

  1. Deepak September 9, 2007 at 12:05 am #

    I know that it is extremely easy to criticise and that echoing the west seems like a wonderful and stylish idea to the current pravasi keralite youth..

    anyways, try reading the following rebuttal by an eminent person.

    (from http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/beat_the_press_archive?month=09&year=2007&base_name=the_nyt_doesnt_like_keralas_so )
    « NYT Finds August Retail Data Weaker Than Meets the Eye | Main | How Much Money Will the U.S. Spend Promoting Children’s Health in the Developing World? »
    The NYT Doesn’t Like Kerala’s Socialist Ways

    That is the main thing that one would learn from reading an NYT article on the increase in migratory work patterns among people in this Indian state. The article reports that one in six workers in the state is now employed outside of the country. Is this more or less than elsewhere in India? The article doesn’t tell us.

    Is this good or bad? The article implies that high rates of migratory work are bad, but that depends on the alternative. If the alternative is good paying jobs at home, clearly having to travel to distant countries is bad. But if the alternative is low-paying jobs and underemployment then having access to migratory work is good. If citizens of Kerala do migrate for work in higher numbers than workers elsewhere in India, is this because they are more desperate than workers elsewhere in India or because they are more likely to have the skills desired by employers elsewhere in the region? (As the article notes, their literacy rates and education levels are much higher than elsewhere in India.)

    Rather than informing readers, the main purpose of this article appears to be to try to discredit a development model that has focused on providing basic human needs. As the article points out, life expectancy in Kerala is nearly as long as in the United States and its literacy rate is 91 percent, compared to 65 percent for India as a whole. Kerala accomplished these goals in spite of the fact that is far poorer than the United States and is even poorer than the rest of India. (The article exaggerates the income gap by using exchange rate GDP. On a purchasing power parity basis, India’s per capita GDP is $3,800 per person compared to $44,000 in the U.S. It is also worth noting remittances by migrant workers are not counted in GDP, so if a larger share of Kerala’s workforce is employed outside the country than is the case for other parts of India, it would be expected that it would have a lower per capita GDP.) While the article implies that this development path has negatively impacted Kerala’s growth relative to the rest of India, the information it presents readers does not provide a basis for making this assessment.

    –Dean Baker

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