Kerala “God’s own country” or the Indian Switzerland

Is this still India, I ask myself sometimes. The streets clean, almost no cows or pigs, stray dogs not to mention. The landscape green, tropical , only sporadic shanties, mostly there are  pretty houses – many with painted porches and quite colorful. And women on the streets everywhere.

 

In den Backwaters von Kerala

 

Yes, Kerala is different. It is marketed as “God’s own country” by the tourism industry. The “Indian Switzerland”, I think during a busride along the  green hills past the colorful houses. At  least they have in common  the cleanliness, the beautiful scenery and wealth.

Many social indicators such as fertility, health care, literacy rate, etc. correspond to tthoses ​​of developed countries – and even if the economic development can’t keep up, it is obvious that Kerala is richer than other States in India. All people with whom I speak here, think that the good  education system is the main cause. Educaion has been very important in pre-colonial times  – even for lower castes and women. In 1859, the first school for girls in India was founded.

 

End of school in Munnar

 

The high education rate and the connections to the Arab World (grown over centuries)also lead many Keralan people migrate to places  where there are better career and money opportunities. It is, as so often in such migration movements – on the one hand a brain-drain , on the other hand, many big private houses testify that much money “returns” from the Arab region to Kerala . The money of the migrants from Kerala into other countries, represents a fifth of the Keralan national product and is therefore the most important economic factor.

Kerala is also blessed by nature, you can not say it differently. The tropical climate and the many regions at mid-height allow the cultivation of tea, coffee, cardamom, vanilla, pepper and many other spices. Vasco da Gama arrived here is, when he had finally found the sea route to India and it was not the pure spirit of adventure that has driven him, but tangible economic interests – the spice trade was an important factor.

 

Tea plantaton in Kumily

Before Vasco da Gama, many others have found their way across the sea to the south-eastern coast of the continent. There is evidence of a Jewish community before the birth of Christ, and also of St. Thomas is said to have been in Kerala and thus the foundation for early Christian communities has been set. The region has been in exchanges with diverse cultures since centuries, which is certainly not a disadvantage for the development. And the proportion of Muslim and Christian population is much higher than in other states.

 

Indian tourists in Munnar - Making photos and beeng photographed is very important

Kerala is also an important tourist destination. Although it is one of the smaller states, it stands at the statistics at the top of the list. In addition to the existing natural natural resources this success is probably due to massive marketing from the 1980s on as “God’s own country”. Numerous Eco-tourism initiatives try to contribute to  a positive development of society and the environmentand have also received several international prizes. The tourism  critical organization Equations in contrast, shows the negative aspects of tourism in Kerala.

 

Che Guevara Busstation in Eddakad

One question is how important the communist governments were, which have been elected in a democratic way several times since 1957? I do not dare to estimate it. The land reforms of the 1960s and 70s, which has decreased large estate properties significantly were certainly important. Our boat guide on a trip in the backwaters states as well that here are all unionized, organized in village committees and that strikes seem to be very common. The Communist Party is certainly omnipresent, whether through banners, posters, demonstrations, or Che Guevara images in the bus stations.

Also in Kerala people are begging, I see shabby huts with no setup or homeless people. All this, however, in a much lesser extent than in other regions and people are remarkably friendly and helpful – which is probably not a bad indicator.

 

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Comments

  1. Suresh says:

    syl… i hope u ok and doing well.. i’ve just went through the articles.. greaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat..

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