Modi Somalia jab right? Infant mortality soars in Kerala
- Infant mortality rate among tribes in Kerala remains grim.
- Scheme to ensure health of tribal mothers and babies hit by corruption.
- Minister promises action against corrupt officials.
In May this year, just ahead of Kerala Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited the wrath of Malayalees for comparing the infant mortality rate among tribals in Kerala to that of Somalia. The BJP had a tough time defending the PM as the Congress and the CPM cried that Modi insulted Keralites. The Social media took the lead in trolling the PM, and #PoMoneModi trended on Twitter and Facebook.
But was Modi more sinned against than sinning?
The disturbing reports of the plight of the tribes and the grim infant mortality rate in the tribal heartlands of Kerala paint a sorry picture that no Malayalee could take pride.
More than half of the infant deaths in Kerala still reported from these tribal areas where poor landless tribes eke out a living under the mercy of govt. welfare schemes and corrupt officials and politicians. Many lakhs were drained out by officials from the special scheme implemented to ensure health and welfare of tribal mothers and infants in Wayanad district alone. This happened when babies born to malnourished tribal women continue to die within days after birth.
Infant deaths in Kerala
- (before 1 year old)
- total ST
- 2012-13 142 76
- 2013-14 154 83
- 2014- 15 128 66
- 2015-16 137 63
More than half of the child born in Wayand had died before they turned one year. Out of the 142 babies born in Wayanad, 76 died in 2012 and only 71 out of 154 children born in 2013 survived. The infant mortality rate in Wayanad and Attappadi is well above the state average. This happens when the statistics show that the government spent Rs. 11.5 crore in 2015-16 to 11850 persons on Janani Janma Suraksha scheme that aimed at providing Rs. 1,000 monthly to ensure health and welfare of mothers and newborns.
SC/ST Welfare Minister AK Balan said that the government had taken note of the discrepancies in the scheme. The department has initiated an inquiry against corrupt officials, he added.
Tribal leaders say that punishing a few corrupt officials will not solve the long pending problems. They felt that the indifference of the governments was part of a plan to wipe out tribes from Kerala.