Programme for the second level course U208. The Indian state of Kerala lies at the south-western tip of the Indian sub-continent. Partly because of its history (it has survived many different rulers) and partly because of post-independence left-wing governments, which deliberately attempted to maximise public welfare, it has the highest levels of literacy in India and the most comprehensive system of health care. At the same time, it remains one of the poorer Indian states, with less industrialisation than many others. The programme attempts to explore the real-life meaning of this unusual situation. It suggests an explanation involving the position of women (both in the past and at the present time), but goes on to reveal that life remains hard for many Keralans.