Kerala Is Not Somalia: Modi Wrong on Infant Death Claims


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday caused huge controversy by describing Kerala worse than Somalia in terms of infant mortality rates among Scheduled Tribes.

He made several other controversial comments during his election rally prompting social media users to troll him.

We fact-checked Modi’s claims:

1) The unemployment rate in Kerala is at least three times higher than the national average.

Modi exaggerated the data, but unemployment in Kerala is higher than the national average. By Modi’s calculations the unemployment rate is 19.6%. It is 11.8% (against the all-India unemployment rate of 4.9%), according to this report by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

2) Infant mortality rate (IMR) among the scheduled tribes in Kerala is worse than Somalia.

It is unclear what data Modi used to make his claim.

IndiaSpend could not find any recent data on infant mortality (infant deaths per 1,000 live births) of scheduled tribes (STs) in Kerala.

Kerala has an IMR of 60 among STs, according to Census 2001, against the national level of 84. Somalia had an IMR of 105 in 2001, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Madhya Pradesh (MP) had the highest IMR among STs, 110, followed by Arunachal Pradesh with 104.

The only Indian state which was worse compared to Somalia in 2001 was MP.

A caveat: These are 2001 data, the latest available to the public.

A recent study by the National Institute of Nutrition in 2013 observed that Attappady, a tribal block in Kerala, had an IMR of 66 deaths per 1,000 births.

3) The state (Kerala) can meet only 13% of its requirement of agricultural products.

While no data are available to establish that fact, it is true that Kerala has witnessed declines in two major agricultural produce–rice and coconut–over the last decade.

While area under rice cultivation has declined 28%, from 276,000 hectare in 2005-06 to 198,000 hectare in 2014-15, production has declined 16%, from 667,000 tonne to 562,000 tonne.

Area under coconut cultivation declined 9%, from 873,000 hectare in 2006-07 to 794,000 hectare in 2014-15, and production dropped 2% to 5,947 million nuts in 2014-15 from 6,054 million in 2006-07.


4) Even after 70 years of Independence, Kerala depends on other states for 70% of its power requirements.

Modi is mostly right on this.

The electricity demand of the state is met through generation from Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), central generating stations (CGS), independent power producers (IPPs) and traders.

Generation from KSEB’s own plants provide 33% (7,342 million units) of the total energy requirement. Imports from CGS, IPPs and traders provide the rest (14,996 MU) of total requirement.

So, 67% of power is imported, according to the 2015 economic survey of Kerala.

(In collaboration with IndiaSpend. is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit/ is fact-checking initiative, scrutinising for veracity and context statements made by individuals and organisations in public life.)

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