Conference on ‘Kerala Economy and Society: Situating the Present and Imagining the Future’ : 26 – 27 February, 2012

Day 1 (26 February 2012)

On the first day of the two-days long conference on ‘Kerala Economy and Society: Situating the Present and Imagining the Future’ organized by CDS, there were deliberations containing four major themes viz., Economic Growth, Welfare & Well-Being, Education & Skills and the Natural Environment.

In the first session, while deliberating on Kerla’s development process Prof.K.P.Kannan highlighted four significant transitions- Demographic Transition, Health Transition, Transition from Agrarian to a Non-Agrarian Economy and Educational Transition. The major challenges that the state faces at present, according to him, are lopsided growth (e.g. Agriculture) low industrialization, labour market dynamics (labour shortage in some, surplus Labour in some others), the challenge of Quality esp. in higher education, and privatisation of sectors which contribute to human development.

This was followed by a discussion on the globalization in Agriculture and automisation of farming. Dr.K.N.Harilal suggested three policy options to overcome the crisis in Kerala Agriculture, viz., restriction of private property rights over land, public support and socialization of risk. The last paper in the session was on Kerala Migration survey 2011 carried out by Prof.S.I.Rajan and K.C..Zachairah. One of the important observations of the survey was shift of concentration in emigration towards northern districts moving abroad and to other states of India are increasing over the period, especially, the student migration.

The Session on Welfare and Wellbeing mainly centered around the issues of public provisioning and social auditing, health insurance and service sector employment. It was highlighted that the very design of RSPY has a problem of adverse selection. The session also highlighted possibilities of worsening of inequality in the state due to a simultaneous shift in employment towards low paid activities in one hand and towards high paid modern service activities.

Mr.T.P.Sreenivasan, while discussing the issues of higher education in Kerala opined that the methodology of teaching remains the same in higher education as in School education. The semester system introduced at the under graduate level will remain unchanged and there will also be consideration of more autonomy to the colleges and clusters.

The last session on natural environment highlighted the need for bringing environment in the forefront of planning and the social security of the region, in fact, should be conditioned by the ecological security. The lack of scientific sanitation and changing quality of air are major concern.