India is a land of paradoxes. The country sent an orbiter to Mars in 2016, becoming the first nation to do so in its first attempt, while honor killing is on the rise due to the belief that a family's honor will get shattered by inter-caste marriages. India has the fastest growing economy in the world in GDP terms, but the Human Development Index is one of the worst among developing nations. India is a ray of hope for democracy in present times, as her democracy is deepening after each election while other countries are slowly drifting to authoritarian regimes.

Paradoxes also extend to sub-national level. Thus Bihar, one of the northern states of India, has a starkly different social-political-economic milieu than Kerala. Kerala is one of the most developed states in India. The Kerala model of development was praised by the Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen. The country's literacy rate is 93.91percent and the female literacy rate is 91.98 percent as per the 2011 census. Caste/religious riots are next to nil in Kerala, whereas Bihar is one of the poorest states in India having literacy rates of 63.8 percent and female literacy of 53.3 percent

Kerala - a land of development?

The great Indian paradox does not end there. It extends to sub-regional level also. Regional inequality as in developed Cochin city and underdeveloped Attapady region of Palakkad may not fit into the parameter of 'paradox' in this age of normalization of inequality across the globe.

But the real paradox of Kerala stems from the disconnect between her political-social-economic development and the underlying rot in her culture of tolerance.

The superiority complex of Keralites leads them to see the migrant workers from North India as unhygienic consequently treating them as a necessary pest required for low wage jobs.

A land which developed from the remittances of migrants who went to the Arab world in second half of the twentieth century, Kerala's attitude to the migrant workers in its own land is paradoxical. Kerala, where literacy rates are hovering above 90 percent, endogamy (marriage within the same caste) is still as strong as a state like Bihar.

Even youth of Kerala, the educated youth, favor same caste marriage. 'Moral policing' - vigilante groups which act to enforce a code of morality is on the rise in Kerala and the political and police establishment sometimes act in tandem with these forces.

The lynching of a tribal youth

The manifestation of paradoxes in Kerala:

  • Highly educated youth carried out a barbarian Mob attack
  • People vocal about their rights violated the right of another hapless individual
  • Developed state unable to provide food for its marginalized citizen

A tribal youth, who was of unsound mind, Madhu was beaten by a mob, accusing him of theft of food items. He was then handed over to the police but taken to hospital as he started vomiting in the vehicle.

However, he died before reaching the hospital. The most brutal thing among the bizarre occurrences was that a selfie was taken before he was beaten by the mob, which went viral on social media.

This incident leads to a widespread brouhaha in social media. Everyone accused the mob of their inhuman behavior. This is not a standalone issue of an inhuman act committed by Keralites. Earlier a transgender was molested and beaten, accusing of kidnapping, in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of the state. These incidents raise a bold question mark over the whole meaning of development. Kerala is not a quintessential case of a developed island amidst the midst of a sea of underdevelopment. There are many nuanced and subtle potholes in the development story of Kerala.

What is development

The Kerala model of development is mired in paradoxes which questions the very fundamentals of development and how we perceive it. Maybe the civilized community is not a result of the development of political-economical-social parameters. Or maybe there is another invisible model of development which we cannot measure by any indices like HDI, and GDP. If that is the case, its time to develop a new index: 'the Paradox index' which can measure the dichotomy between different forms of developments

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