Monday, January 18, 2021
Home Opinions Kerala model for coronavirus: No cities, no virus

Kerala model for coronavirus: No cities, no virus

The most honest way to understand the pandemic is not by looking at state totals, but at city totals. If you have more cities, the pandemic strikes you hard. This is obvious from looking at the list of top 10 cities in India.

At the outset, let me say this is not an attempt to disparage the government nor the people of Kerala. Despite some exaggerated claims by politicians. This is an attempt to understand.

We have been hearing a lot about the so called Kerala model of tackling the Coronavirus. Of course, one has to adjust for the fact that Kerala attracts automatic positive coverage because it has a Communist government. For example, Kerala has around 600 cases to date. Neighboring Karnataka has around 1100. Which works out to almost the same when you account for the fact that Karnataka has around twice as many people as Kerala. However, you can be certain that you wont hear of “Karnataka model” in the media any time soon. At least not until the state has a BJP Chief Minister.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s see if we can identify something special about Kerala. By now, it is clear to us that the pandemic is sustained by big cities. This is all too obvious. In the US, it is New York. In the UK, it’s London. In India, it’s Mumbai.

This makes perfect sense. A city generally has a large number of people packed densely into a small area. Also, cities tend to have highly mobile population. In times of pandemic, cities are dangerous places. This has been known for hundreds of years.

Tiny Singapore, with its population of 56 lakh people, has nearly 30,000 cases. That’s a third of the number for the whole of India! The pandemic is not in states nor in countries. The pandemic is in cities.

Consider how concentrated the pandemic is. While Mumbai takes up a tiny fraction of the land area of Maharashtra, it accounts for 56% of all cases across the state. Once you add in Thane and Pune, you are up to almost 80% already. In Gujarat, the situation is even more striking. Ahmedabad alone accounts for almost 75% of cases in the state. Once you add Surat and Vadodara, you go past 90%.

Up north, Delhi alone has twice as many cases as the whole of Uttar Pradesh.

So when we think nationwide in terms of the pandemic, we have to ask ourselves: where are the cities?

So which is the largest, most populated city in India? I’m sure you know that the answer is Mumbai. Then, there is Delhi. And they’re both suffering badly from the Coronavirus, just as you would expect. At No. 3 there is Bengaluru. But we have already agreed that we are not allowed to praise the work of BJP Chief Ministers. So we will just pretend that Bengaluru does not exist.

Who is next? There’s Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, which completes the top 5. Then there’s Chennai, Kolkata, Surat, Pune and Jaipur. In case you are wondering, Lucknow comes at 13, Bhopal at 16, Patna at 19, Ranchi at 38 and Raipur at 45. We are almost at the end of the top 50.

Wait a second. Where did Kerala go? Believe it or not, Kerala doesn’t have a single city in the top 50 in India. In fact, Kerala almost didn’t have a city in the top 75! The largest city in Kerala is Kochi, which makes it to the 75th place in the nation!

The most honest way to understand the pandemic is not by looking at state totals, but at city totals. If you have more cities, the pandemic strikes you hard. This is obvious from looking at the list of top 10 cities in India.

So here is a simpler hypothesis about ‘Kerala model.’ The pandemic did not strike Kerala hard simply because it had nowhere to go in Kerala. Because Kerala didn’t have big cities. No city in the top 50. Barely made it to the top 75.

Beware! Just because Kerala doesn’t have big cities does not mean it is not an urbanized state. In fact, the % of urban population in Kerala is above the national average. What this means is that Kerala’s “urban areas” are spread out. The state just does not have the kind of closely packed, super productive, metropolis that Mumbai, Delhi or Bengaluru would be.

So what do we have to learn? Without any disrespect to Kerala, not very much. Big cities don’t exist in Kerala because its economy does not need big cities. The usual economic engines such as financial hubs, tech hubs or factories do not exist in Kerala. Instead, the state has a remittance economy.

This works great for Kerala. But this is not a model that can be scaled up. The factories, the offices, the skyscrapers, all have to be somewhere. Wealth has to be created somewhere before it can be remitted to Kerala. In the case of Kerala, much of the economic engine has been shifted to the Gulf.

Again, this works great for Kerala. The state itself stays sheltered from the immediate drawbacks of a modern economy: big cities, polluting factories and now a pandemic. But the modern economy has to exist somewhere to generate the wealth that will support Kerala’s idyllic economy based on remittances, tourism and fishing.

So when we scratch under the surface, we find that the Kerala model has little to teach us. In times of pandemic, the most important thing is to identify the factors that lead to success or failure. In identifying these factors, the biggest mistake we can make is letting political biases get in the way.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

Related Articles

Trending now

Uttar Pradesh surpasses its paddy purchase target two months in advance, makes record payment to farmers

While the state government has surpassed the procurement target, Yogi Adityanath has instructed that the procurement of produce will continue in the state.

Pakistan claims India staged Pulwama attack after Mumbai Police leaks chat to embarrass Arnab, Republic hits back: Details

Pakistan has now issued a statement on the nonsensical controversy surrounding the private WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami

Shiv Sena to contest West Bengal Assembly elections

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut today took to Twitter to announce that the party will contest upcoming elections in West Bengal.

’Guilty until proven innocent?’: Ex-BARC chief’s daughter makes yet another appeal to Maharashtra CM as her father’s health deteriorates

Ex-BARC chief Partho Dasgupta was hospitalised after health deteriorated in judicial custody following his arrest in the TRP case

Enforcement Directorate seeks permission from Rajasthan High Court for custodial interrogation of Robert Vadra in benami property case

ED has sought High Court’s permission to question Robert Vadra and associate Mahesh Nagar in Bikaner land deal case in custody

Fake TRP Scam: Wife of former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta files complaint with NHRC over torture of her husband in jail

The wife of the former BARC CEO also alleged that someone was paid to beat her husband in jail to falsely implicate Republic TV in TRP case

Recently Popular

British-Pakistani singer Zayn Malik says he loves India and fans can’t keep calm

Recently, Zayn Malik was heard singing Mohammad Rafi's Chaudavi Ka Chand in the track Tightrope.

What the Nidhi-Harvard story reveals about our world: Get off your high horse, you are not that special, anyway

Liberal journalist, Nidhi Razdan, thought she had received an offer from Harvard University to become an Associate Professor of journalism.

‘Not a single NPA in the three decades of its existence,’ Adani Group rubbishes Subramanian Swamy’s allegations

On Friday, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy had put out allegations on Twitter against Adani accusing him of non-payment of loans worth Rs 4.5 lakhs, which has allegedly turned into an NPA.

Congress admits Mumbai police leaked Arnab Goswami chats: Here are all the wild conspiracy theories they generated

Prithviraj Chavan has admitted that it was the Mumbai Police which leaked the private WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami.

Condom over Shivling: Netizens slam actress Sayoni Ghosh for desecrating Hindu symbol, expose her dubious ‘account hacked’ claim

Saayoni Ghosh claimed that her account was hacked and she didn't posted the image in 2015, but netizens proved she is lying

Pakistan claims India staged Pulwama attack after Mumbai Police leaks chat to embarrass Arnab, Republic hits back: Details

Pakistan has now issued a statement on the nonsensical controversy surrounding the private WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami

Uttar Pradesh surpasses its paddy purchase target two months in advance, makes record payment to farmers

While the state government has surpassed the procurement target, Yogi Adityanath has instructed that the procurement of produce will continue in the state.

Pakistan claims India staged Pulwama attack after Mumbai Police leaks chat to embarrass Arnab, Republic hits back: Details

Pakistan has now issued a statement on the nonsensical controversy surrounding the private WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami

Fake letter on Delhi BJP’s letterhead circulated containing derogatory comments and inciting violence against protesting farmers

The fake letter from BJP leader Rajesh Bhatia contains derogatory remarks for farmers and incites BJP workers for violence against farmers

Shiv Sena to contest West Bengal Assembly elections

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut today took to Twitter to announce that the party will contest upcoming elections in West Bengal.

Bihar: Transgenders to be recruited into police either through direct appointment or competitive exam, reservations to be provided

The Bihar Police will now recruit people from the transgender community into its ranks and provide them reservations.

‘Azadi’ slogans raised at Azad Maidan in Mumbai as thousands of Muslim protestors gathered to protest against farm laws

The protestors raised 'Azadi' slogans in support of the farmers at the 'Kissan Alliance Morcha' that was held at the Azad Maidan yesterday

’Guilty until proven innocent?’: Ex-BARC chief’s daughter makes yet another appeal to Maharashtra CM as her father’s health deteriorates

Ex-BARC chief Partho Dasgupta was hospitalised after health deteriorated in judicial custody following his arrest in the TRP case

Enforcement Directorate seeks permission from Rajasthan High Court for custodial interrogation of Robert Vadra in benami property case

ED has sought High Court’s permission to question Robert Vadra and associate Mahesh Nagar in Bikaner land deal case in custody

Police to issue summons to makers of Tandav web series after BJP leader Ram Kadam lodges complaint against its Hinduphobic content

BJP leader Ram Kadam filed a complaint against actor Zeeshan Ayyub and web series Tandav demanding apology for insulting Hindu Gods

Congress admits Mumbai police leaked Arnab Goswami chats: Here are all the wild conspiracy theories they generated

Prithviraj Chavan has admitted that it was the Mumbai Police which leaked the private WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
496,912FollowersFollow
22,800SubscribersSubscribe