India,  Kerala

Kerala, Responsibility and Covid-19

Kerala has developed greater resilience in the wake of recent extensive flooding, and they were quick to bring Covid-19 under control. RT has been successful in Kerala in large part due to the strength of state and local government.

Kerala has been identified as a model state in reducing the impact of Covid-19 They had a state control room mobilised by 26 January. Two Keralan students returning from Wuhan tested positive and on 30th January were put into isolation.

“In order to “break the chain”, the government has been conducting rigorous “contact tracing”, or studying whom the infected person has been in contact with and then whom that person has been in contact with so that the entire chain of possibly infected people can be informed and put into isolation. Route maps showing the places that the infected persons have been to are being published, and people who were present at that time at those places are asked to contact the health department so that they can be screened and tested. The route maps are widely disseminated through social media, and through GoK Direct, the government’s phone app. Local government officials and ASHA health workers (women who are the pillar of local public health) are doing the groundwork of finding people who are infected and making sure their contacts are also in isolation.” More here

The Washington Post has also covered Kerala’s performance.  Coronavirus: How India’s Kerala state ‘flattened the curve’

Blogging on India’s NTV website Ramachandra Guha writes about the Kerala model . In the 1970’s economists associated with the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram showed that when it came to indices of population (as in declining birth rates), education (as in remarkably high literacy for women) and health (as in lower infant mortality and higher life expectancy), Kerala had done as well – and sometimes better – than parts of Europe and North America. Sociologists  argued that caste and class distinctions had radically diminished in Kerala. Political scientists  Kerala was ahead of other states. More power had been devolved to municipalities and panchayats than elsewhere in India.

Kerala has had particular success in “flattening the curve” in responding to Covid-19. In local villages, like Chengala,  the village panchayats have understood the risks and what needs to be done to prevent the virus spreading. As the BBC’s Soutik Biswas reports

“We were ready from the very beginning. We realised a storm was coming. So we began erecting our defences,” Shahina Saleem, the president of the 23-member local village council, told me. These elected village councils are the lowest tier of governance in India.
Over the last month, Chengala has reported 22 cases of Covid-19 infection and quarantined more than 400 people. Twenty patients have recovered in hospital and returned home. More than 370 samples have been tested at hospitals some 8km away. Results usually arrive in 48 hours.”

As I write this blog Kerala has 482 confirmed cases and only 4 deaths.  For those that are interested there is a great deal of information about how and why Kerala has been so successful in combating Covid-19 here.

Guha concludes that “The success of the state in the past and in the present have rested on science, transparency, decentralization, and social equality. These are, as it were, the four pillars of the Kerala Model.”

These same four pillars are the basis on which Responsible Tourism has been developed, so successfully, in Kerala.

The Responsible Tourism Mission has been uploading videos of its artisan and craftspeople on social media; in April, they filmed 500. They anticipate that the emphasis on hygiene and social distancing will advantage rural tourism and they are focused on attracting tourists from within the state.

The Responsible Tourism Mission in Kerala has recorded a four fold income in its revenue.  The Mission’s work continues during the lock down. Following the advice: Work at Home.. Stay Safe … Break the Chain, they are producing RT Mission Work at Home videos. 

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