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Exclusion through Development: The Kerala Experience


The burgeoning development literature has spawned panoply of concepts and terms, often creating a verbal fetishism, destroying creative thinking and distorting the very meaning of development. A current fad is inclusive development, a term which is not defined precisely; nor is its scope delineated. As yet, there is no unanimity on the concept, source, and measure of development. However, there is a tendency to consider development as the panacea for all problems of society. None-the-less, there is an school of thought which believes that “development is dead “and we are in the “postdevelopment era”. Theory and history are testimony to the fact that there cannot be inclusive development in a society that is divided along the caste-class-gender axis. Development is possible only for a person or a social group which has a material base. The development process in India has bypassed and even excluded adivasis who are regular victims of primitive accumulation and oppression in India as a whole. Kerala is not an exception to this deplorable national scenario. Of course, the state is acclaimed as a development model, God’s own country and a first world society in a third world country for the high HDI it has. But deprived groups like adivasis have not been able to avail themselves of this achievement. The adivasis particularly have been losing their resource base and getting excluded through development. What Kerala has is not inclusive development but inclusive welfare. It appears that there is inexorable need for going back to the values of Enlightenment and liberalism and classical individualism so that every adivasi is able to realize her full potential.

M Kunhaman

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