Kerala development model features in Harvard University Syllabus

The impressive achievements of Kerala in all spheres might have failed to grab the attention of the common man in Kerala   and the administrators too never thought it is important to feature it  in the textbooks of students in Kerala. However,  it is heartening to note that laurels came from half way across the world in Harvard where the Kerala model of development is a study topic that comes up for debate and discussion on a regular basis.

Harvard has chosen a  study titled ‘Building local democracy: Evaluating the impact of decentralisation in Kerala’ conducted jointly by Patrick Heller of Brown University, K N Harilal of Centre for Development Studies and Shubham Chaudhuri of World Bank in 2007, as a recommended reading material for the students of an Urbanisation and International Development course offered by Harvard University’s graduate school of design. (see their very slick and interesting website) Kerala was chosen as a subject because it is one of the most prominent examples on decentralisation and democratisationa on a global level . Students of subjects including  international comparative politics, political economy or urban policy are familiar with Kerala.

Michael Hooper, an assistant professor of Urban Planning at Harvard, said that over 60 students in two batches  discuss the topic  Kerala and its decentralisation model every year. Interestingly the students also include employed executives, senior officials from government or international organisations and other subject matter experts from all parts of the world, which  make these classes diverse.

It is ironical that most Keralites are not aware that Kerala model of development is a topic in Harvard though it is a matter of pride to each one of us. Interestingly, even  Harilal, who co-authored the study, was unaware of the fact that it is a study material at Harvard for long.As responsible citizens of Kerala, we should all be   knowledgeable about the impressive feats attained by our tiny state and only by including these topics in the curriculum can we ensure that the future generation gets a  clear perception of Kerala. Instead of including controversial topics in text books with an eye of vote bank, the administrators in the upper echelon of power should apply a well balanced approach while setting up the curriculum.

link to PDF version of the report (this is not a webpage but PDF)

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