Four Comments on Kerala


  • Maria Helena Moreira Alves
  • Samir Amin
  • Prabhat Patnaik
  • Carlos M. Vilas





For many years now, people in the third world have been rejecting the modernizing theory of development. From the perspective of the third world, one must first ask: development from what, for what, and for whom? The answers to these questions determine whether or not "development" can be translated into improvements in the general living conditions of the people. The model described in Kerala clearly indicates an early choice: rather than providing tax breaks and incentives for private internal and external investments in infrastructure and industry, the government chose to apply most of its resources and efforts to altering dramatically the distribution of wealth as well as generally improving basic services. This choice, in itself, is not a new experience for socialist-inspired governments. It clearly was also the choice, for example, in Cuba, which achieved similarly impressive results in decreasing the infant mortality rate and increasing literacy and access to housing, health care, and education. Most third world socialists would agree that the first step to development is the dramatic improvement of government services meant to fulfill the basic needs of the population. In underdeveloped and poverty-stricken conditions, the efficient and egalitarian distribution of food, housing, health services, and education is an enormously important effort to which most government resources must be allocated.