The article critiques the “Kerala model,” which holds up Kerala State, India, as a model that may be emulated by other developing countries, on account of its remarkable advances in social development. The dominant left in Kerala has often claimed credit for such achievements, leading to its glorification as a model for social democracy. This uncritical adoration, which has acquired the status of national commonsense in Kerala, has reduced marginalized people in Kerala, particularly the lower-caste Dalits and tribals, to a state of abjection. The present effort seeks to show how the marginalization of these social groups and their confinement to governmental categories was not a historical accident, but the effect of political strategies on the left that led to their exclusion from productive resources, and of the assertion of upper-caste agency in left-led anticaste struggle.

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