Centre of HOPE - Kochi

Kerala, a state located at the tip of India’s southwest coast, is considered to be one of the top ten travel destinations by the National Geographic. However, the state has been an enigma to development economists and policy planners due to lop-sided development.

Kerala is a poor, densely-populated and principally agrarian state of some 30 million inhabitants. By the late 1970s, Kerala led India in such public services as roads, post offices, primary and secondary schools, easily-accessed medical facilities, banks and more. Through far-reaching land reform, agricultural fields were turned over from landlords to tenants. The well-entrenched caste system was overturned. Public food programs put a floor under the nutrition of mothers and children, utilizing such mechanisms as ration cards and free school lunches. The birth rate in Kerala was brought below that of the rest of India, to rival that in more advanced nations. In this way, the basic needs of the people for civil and human rights, social security and fair opportunity were ameliorated within the span of a few decades.

Compared to the rest of India, the health standard of the state is impressive. The basis of this is the statewide infrastructure of primary health centres. There are over 2,700 government medical institutions in the state, with 160 beds per 100,000 population, the highest in the country. With virtually all mothers taught to breast-feed, and a state-supported nutrition programme for pregnant and new mothers, infant mortality in 2001 was 14 per thousand, compared with 91 for low-income countries generally.

Nevertheless, unemployment and poverty in the state is among the highest. The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in Kerala is still in the range of three dollars a day, typical of poor nations generally and below the average in India. It is interesting to know that the State with the highest literacy rate, almost 97 per cent, has the highest unemployment rate when compared to others. Kerala is known for large-scale migration of skilled labour to other States and countries.

Although, the state may be providing superior facilities to its residents as compared to the other states in the country, yet there are many sectors that they have failed to organize and act prudently. HOPE worldwide through its programmes is filling in the gaps where the state machinery has failed to take notice. For example, the old age home in Kochi has been taking care of abandoned senior citizens, a common sight in the state due to the high migration rate of the working population to foreign lands.












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