In this episode of Onmanorama's 'Let's Talk' podcast that discusses topical issues at length, Kerala's prominent author, academic and activist J Devika, who teaches history at the prestigious Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Thiruvananthapuram, shares her thoughts on 're-thinking development in Kerala'.
The discussion begins by looking into Kerala's praise-winning COVID-19 management. Devika says the state's pandemic control strategies are better than most of the developed countries. However, she warns about the perils of confining state's focus on just short-term pandemic management rather than preventing development emergencies.
She also criticises Kerala's failure to adopt a rights-based approach while dealing with people affected with pandemic and natural calamities. The problem, according to her, is that the state sees people as just beneficiaries and not as citizens.
On the role of gram panchayats, Devika feels that the state is seeing local bodies as units of management, and this will not help strengthening local democracy.
In the final stretches of the discussion, Devika strongly demands changes in the functioning of Kerala's popular Kudumbashree Self Help Groups, which she alleges, are blatantly anti-women.
"Kudumbashree units are hugely beneficial to the society, but they are being loaded with tasks after tasks. The women workers are considered as volunteers. But they should be recognised as workers. It will offer them reward in the form of income."
Now, listen to the full podcast.
Background score: Veetraag
Editor: Alex Pappachan
Producer/ Presenter: T A Ameerudheen
Editor's note: This podcast was originally published on May 22, 2020. The cover image was changed on May 29, 2020.
(Let's Talk brings expert views on an array of topics regularly. Listen to other Onmanorama podcasts here.)