Preparation of District Human Development Report of Kodagu and Kolar District

Type of Project: Status report
Team: Sham N Kashyap,Dr. R. Balasubramaniam, Basavaraju R,
Chandrika Shetty, Prakash, Pushpa, Dr. Rajendra Prasad,
Rajeshwari Mallegowda, Rohit Shetti, Dr. Siddappa Madiwalar

The District Human Development Reports (DHDR) of Kodagu and Kolar distrcts, authored by GRAAM were published by the respective Zilla Panchayats. The District Human Development Reports provide disaggregated status of human development at the district level and below, which allows for the prioritization of specific communities, taluks and districts in designing development strategies and action plans of various government agencies. These reports also provide a comparative empirical analysis of how different departments and different schemes are performing at the district levels and below, and provide an opportunity to rationally address such gaps.

The District Human Development Reports, comprising 12 chapters, capture in detail the status of human development, based on 6 standard indices of development at the taluk level: Human Development Index (HDI), Child Development Index (CDI), Gender Development Index (GDI) , Food Security Index (FSI), Composite Taluk Development Index (CTDI) and one perception based indicator at the level of a local Grama Panchayat called Composite Dalit Development Index (CDDI). Together with these indices, 4 small area studies were carried out, to capture the grassroots issues affecting human development in the district.

The drafting of DHDR was a unique multidisciplinary attempt at GRAAM since the majority of the research and community consultation staff were involved in field work, secondary data collection as well as drafting the report. The challenge for the GRAAM team in this initiative was to understand and document the diverse set of macro and micro issues that affect the status of human development in the two districts.

District Human Development Report, Kodagu

Kodagu, also known as Coorg is the smallest district in the state of Karnataka. It is a picturesque, hilly district located in south-western Karnataka, on the Western Ghats of India, and is considered as one of the most beautiful hill stations of Karnataka.

HDI Living Std Index Health Index Education Index HDI Ranks
Madikeri 0.509 0.879 1.000 0.765 1
Somwarpet 0.573 0.490 0.771 0.601 2
Virajpet 0.515 0.551 0.693 0.601 3

Kodagu’s produces one third of the nation’s Coffee and its economy is primarily driven by it. Another emerging option for livelihoods in Kodagu is tourism. Together with the traditional religious tourist attractions, Kodagu attracts urban nature lovers with a unique combination of eco-tourism and homestays. The district’s per capita income is appreciably high in comparison to other districts of the state. Even with the lack of rail connectivity, Kodagu has been able to achieve high levels of income and sustain it over the past decades. However, there are causes of concern, since the growth trends in income are largely one dimensional and less inclusive.

The non-availability of large additional lands for coffee cultivation, reducing quality of ecosystem services, the stagnant yields of coffee, relatively stagnant demand for agricultural labour and the dwindling availability of reliable agricultural labour are some of the issues affecting the livelihood scenario of the district. Thus, the district has the dual problems of unregulated in-migration of labourers due to shortage of labourers and the out-migration of educated skilled labour due to lack of opportunities for them.

While the status of other important human development connected indicators like literacy rates, population growth rates, gender ratio, fertility rates, are better in Kodagu in comparison to that of the state, there are unique and critical challenges in the district, specifically with respect to its human development status of the marginalized tribal populations.

Within the education sector, retention rates and completion of primary education are the major hurdles for ST communities. Special attention needs to be paid to Virajpet taluk, which has a higher concentration of STs and wherein multiple education indicators seem to be lagging behind. The health profile of ST communities provides a grim picture of the issues related to maternal and child health, specifically that of the Jenu Kuruba and Yerava communities. Improving health seeking behaviour, provision of accessible health infrastructure including referral transport and emergency care and emphasis on coverage of vulnerable communities through preventive and public health programmes are crucial in guaranteeing better health status of the vulnerable groups in the district.

Further, these vulnerable communities in the district do not have a significant resource base and are predominantly dependent on agricultural labour. The socio-economic dynamics of rural Kodagu suggest that rather than exclusion based on caste, disparities based on economic categories were probably prevalent in the area. A glance of the land ownership patterns specifically that of coffee plantations shows a highly skewed distribution of assets and provides an idea on the enormity of the economic disparities in the district.

The calculations based on secondary data show that Madikeri taluk has the highest HDI in the district followed by Somwarpet and finally Virajpet taluk. With better health and educational infrastructure and bigger urban population, Madikeri taluk stands first in health and education index of the HDI, whereas Somwarpet performs better in the livelihood dimension. Among the four urban areas of the district: Madikeri CMC, Somwarpet, Virajpet and Kushalnagar town Panchayats, Madikeri town has the highest UDI whereas Kushalnagar has the lowest UDI value in the district.

Based on a comprehensive analysis of these varied factors affecting human development in the district, the following recommendations were made.

  • Improving the health, education and livelihood status of tribal communities.
  • Creating a platform for effective labour market provision that meets the needs of the labourers and planters leading to a stable and secure plantation economy.
  • Strengthening the allied agricultural activities, secondary and tertiary sector activities in the district.
  • Using a cautioned approach towards the promotion of tourism related activities in the district with emphasis on balancing economic, social and environmental sustainability.

District Human Development Report, Kolar

Kolar, known as the “land of silk, milk and gold” is a district located in the south-east region of Karnataka state of India. The erstwhile integrated district of Kolar comprising 11 taluks was divided to form the new district of Chikballapur in 2007.

The major sources of employment in the district are agriculture, dairy, sericulture, and floriculture. The district is also known for its gold mining site the Kolar Gold Fields, situated 30 km from Kolar. Kolar, once well known for its lakes and tanks, is now infamous for its water contamination, fluorosis and dangerous ground water depletion levels. Although the district has ample opportunities to increase economic security by encouraging horticulture, sericulture and animal husbandry, over extraction of ground water is evident in all the villages of the district, which severely limits these prospects of economic development.

Together with the threat of major diseases like Japanese Encephalitis and Fluorosis, Kolar faces high proportions of Anaemia and malnutrition and alarming signs of declining sex-ratios in all its taluks, the highest being in Mulbagal. Mulbagal also has the highest MMR crossing 200, which in the context of the targets set by NRHM, is unacceptable.

Taluk performance in HDI

The average landholding per landholder in the entire district is just under one hectare, thus largely limiting the choices of agricultural diversification and exposing the small farmers to the risk of crop/price failure and related uncertainties associated with that crop. Asset distribution, in terms of land ownership is clearly skewed against the SC population of the district, with a disproportionately low percentage of SC households owning land in the district. The small area study on situation of water scarcity in the district found that groundwater depletion in the district had reached a precarious situation and was most likely to affect the sustenance of agriculture as a primary occupation in the district. At the same time, the health of people because of groundwater contamination is also a matter of concern and is only likely to worsen if not addressed immediately. Incidents of fluorosis among children are visible and interactions with the community bring to light health issues faced by them such as joint pains, etc.

The small area study on Composite Dalit Development Index conducted in Avani GP of Kolar showed that caste discrimination is still prevalent and may in general be prevalent throughout the district. Some practices of discrimination were even accepted to be continuance of tradition. However, the study also found that comparatively better educated dalits (like dalit ASHAs) are making in-roads in attaining the socio-economic status that enhances their acceptability and results in lesser discrimination for them.

The small area study on discrepancies in registering PwD indicates that the neglect in information collection can be attributed to the neglect of the development of PwD itself. The case study analysed the cause of this discrepancy and found that the institutional structures for catering to the overall development of PwD were ineffective and unaccountable.

Bureaucratic and political stability in the ZP are issues of concern in Kolar since every single year seems to have multiple teams of bureaucratic and political leadership. Kolar requires stable leadership for guiding the district’s development efforts towards long term economic and environmental sustainability.

Among the 5 taluks of the district, Kolar, the district head-quarters was ranked first in HDI, whereas Mulbagal taluk stood in the last place. Bangarpet town had the highest UDI value in the district.

Based on the detailed analysis of these issues, the report identifies crucial areas where the district can focus, for immediate and long term strategies, to increase the overall status of human development in the district. These issues are listed below:

  • Attaining higher literacy rates and reducing gender disparities in literacy rates.
  • Improving the effectiveness in guaranteeing universal primary education, with special focus on Malur taluk.
  • Addressing the issue of declining sex-ratio and lagging indicators of maternal and child health, specifically in Mulbagal and Malur taluks.
  • A detailed study of ground water contamination’s impact on health and possible intervention strategies to mitigate the damages.
  • Sustainable agricultural growth in all taluks of the state, with immediate interventions to minimize water intensive agriculture, regulation of groundwater extraction and adoption of rainwater harvesting mechanisms
  • Better provisioning of basic amenities like drinking water (within their premises) and access to individual household latrines for SC and ST households.
  • Conduct scientific surveys that adopt universal definitions and criteria to identify exact number of PwD and integrate the efforts of various government agencies aimed towards development of PwD in the district.