KOCHI: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s statement that the people of his state should guard against Uttar Pradesh becoming like Kerala, Kashmir and West Bengal has caused ripples in political circles.
According to economists, pitting one state against another was “avoidable”, and in this case, Kerala ranks far superior than UP in terms of human development index (HDI) and standard of living.
An economist even termed Kerala “an established behemoth” while UP is a “fledgling startup” in socio-economic parameters.
“Uttar Pradesh, the state with the largest population in India, is one of the poorest states in the country in 2017-18. The per capita income of UP at current prices stood at Rs 55,456 against Rs 114,958 of the country as a whole. Against this, the per capita income of Kerala was Rs 1,84,000, nearly 3.5 times higher than that of UP,” said K V Joseph, a director of Thiruvananthapuram-based International Institute of Migration and Development.
Similarly, the percentage of people living below the poverty line was 29.47 in UP against an all-India average of 21.32 in 2011-12. In Kerala, the figure is as low as 11.16%, one of the lowest in India, he said.
Parma Chakravartti, assistant professor of public finance, Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation, said: “Undoubtedly, Kerala is a better model with respect to HDI, which includes, health, education and standard of living.”
Further, the higher daily wages in Kerala for low-skilled jobs have led to a large inflow of migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh into Kerala. The minimum wages in Kerala for unskilled workers are in the range of Rs 287-Rs 1,192 per day as against Rs 295-Rs 364 daily in Uttar Pradesh, as per the Economic Survey 2018-19.
According to a study titled ‘In-migration, Informal Employment and Urbanisation in Kerala’ submitted to the State Planning Board last year, migrant workers are happy to work in Kerala as their daily or monthly earnings are much higher here as compared to their native states.
“Moreover, job opportunities are also limited in their native states,” said the report authored by Jajati Keshari Parida, assistant professor, Department of Economic Studies, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, and K Ravi Raman, member, State Planning Board, Government of Kerala.
As per the study, Uttar Pradesh accounted for the third-highest number of migrant workers in Kerala at 4.1 lakh (13.1%) after West Bengal (13 lakh or 41%) and Assam (9.8 lakh or 31.2%). On average, one UP migrant worker in Kerala sends home Rs 30,574 a year, as per the study.
“Based on the average remittance data, it is estimated that an amount of about Rs 7,500 crore goes out of Kerala annually to other states,” the study said.
An economist, who wished not to be named, said UP vs Kerala is an avoidable controversy for an economist.
“It’s like comparing a fledgling startup and an established behemoth!). Uttar Pradesh is a startup (in socioeconomic parameters)!” he said.
Chakrabartti of GIFT said given the reduction in the out-migration rate and an increase in in-migration rate to Kerala due to Covid, it is going to be a big challenge for the state to generate employment for returning Keralites and migrants from other states.
K V Joseph said the UP chief minister may have ventured to make a remark about Kerala to hint at the growing menace of Islamic fundamentalists in the state. “Or probably he wants to dismiss the tall claims of Marxists that all the achievements of Kerala are exclusively due to their efforts and not that of other Keralites,” he said.
Per capita income
UP: Rs 55,456.
Kerala: Rs 1,84,000.
4.1 lakh migrants from UP working in Kerala. Rs 30,574 Average amount sent back by a UP worker from Kerala a year.
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