Kerala- A Unique Model of Governance

Kerala model of governance refers to the unique socio-economic and political development model adopted by the Indian state of Kerala. Kerala is located in the southwestern part of India. This state of India has attracted the attention of the international world for its relatively high levels of social development despite its comparatively low levels of economic growth.

Kerala Governance model is a unique development paradigm

In 1960’s era, Kerala was one of the smallest and poorest state of India. In 1964, international media wrote and spoke about the starvation in Kerala. It was the time when Indian prominent leader Ms. Indira Gandhi stated that:

“I pledge to surrender my rice ration for the people of Kerala.
I also pledge not to eat or serve rice until the food situation there is normal.”

Today Kerala is one of the most developed state in term of its socio-economic indicators. It has the highest per capita income, state of the art health facility, low fertility rate and a very high literacy rate. Many have wondered how this small state has achieved so much within limited resources. The answer is the commitment to decentralization model of government and the empowerment of local bodies. The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment of India gave local bodies a constitutional protection at both urban and rural levels. Kerala state used this opportunity to strengthen their local government system by legislating the Kerala Panchayati Raj Act 1994 for rural areas and Kerala Municipality ACT 1994 for urban areas. Through these legislations powers, functions and finances have been transferred to local bodies. To enhance participation opportunities, committee system was introduced for further decentralization within local bodies.

Decentralization of Powers in Kerala

To ensure participatory planning there are different stages. The first important stage of planning is the contribution of Grama Sabha.

It conducted several discussions and forwarded their suggestions to the local body regarding the needs of the people. Second stage is Development Seminar in which a draft also called Panchayat or Municipality development report was published to identify the projects to be taken up for development of the region. The third stage is the preparation of projects through cost benefit analysis. The fourth stage is the preparation of Plan document in which local bodies finalize their plan document. The bodies prioritize the plan and allocate the development project based on priority.

The fifth stage is the Plan approval in which District Planning Committee approves every local bodies plan under the assistance of technical advisory committee. The final stage is the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of plan. Monitoring committees are established. Grama Sabha examine the progress.

Further, for social development and poverty eradication ‘Kudumbashree’ means prosperity of the family was introduced. Its objective is to eradicate absolute poverty under the leadership of local government. Kudumbashree is a three-tier system. The lowest level is NHGs called neighborhood groups. Second is ADS (Area Development Societies) and third is CDS (Community Development Societies).

The Indian state of Kerala by adopting decentralization model has remarkably achieved development in all spheres. Through this model of governance Kerala, sate achieved more than 90% literacy rate. It is important to mention that all the achievements of Kerala state has made under a very limited resources, and low per capita income.