Kerala's backwaters

Kerala's backwaters

The first democratically elected Communist state is, as writers like Arundhati Roy continue to remind us, one of constant religious strife, one of hidden enmity against both the lower class and the lower caste, and, perhaps most surprising, the home of the largest pornographic industry in the world.

They move the boat with a gigantic stick of bamboo

They move the boat with a gigantic stick of bamboo

Kerala has become the richest state in India thanks to a viable tourism industry, remittances from the Gulf, a high literacy rate, and being the source of many of the world’s raw materials. The straw of a coconut tree is taken through a machine that twists the sparse pieces around each other to form taut lines of rope. The shells collected along the backwaters are crushed into calcium and heated in large stone furnaces. All alongside the road rubber trees are being tapped for Goodyear, Coconut and banana farms extend for miles along the roads, plantations for tea and marijuana settle in the hills and plains.

I was not so successful

I was not so successful

The most beautiful part about these farms is that few of them are owned through foreign direct investment. Most are local farms, exporting on their own terms, engaging in the free market through direct ownership of their commodities.

Kathakari Theater

Kathakari Theater

And yet many are still bewildered as to how Kerala became such a success story. Could the Land Reform act, which redistributed all private land in the 1950s, have anything to do with it? But that’s too close to socialism, so we bang our heads looking for another explanation (see Keralan model of development )


Kerala is a fine addition to my list of places to go when I retire, or, when I just get really get sick of the world.

3 thoughts on “Kerala

  1. That elephant’s all like, “hey, howzit goin?”

    I’m actually surprised that, as you say, most of the farms are locally owned and not corporately owned by foreign businesses. Great stuff, I’ve read it all. Keep up the writing!

  2. The amount of locally owned-businesses doesn’t surprise me – a lot of interantional firms have been opting to invest within locally-owned businesses rather than engaging in direct ownership – but it’s really not that big of a difference anyway, is it? I think that elephant would have been a better candidate for “the most beautiful thing” in the farms, rather than the fact that many businesses there are locally-owned. Was it hard steering that boat with the bamboo?

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