Ever since Nairs and Ezhavas, the two biggest and most
influential Hindu communities in Kerala started talking about close cooperation
between them, criticisms and sarcastic comments about the unity have started
Certain organized groups in Kerala society seem to be uneasy
about the impact of Nair-Ezhava unity on the social scenario in Kerala. Some
vested interest groups had reaped benefits in the past by making Ezhavas fight
Nairs in the name of job reservation and ‘wrongs committed in the past’.
Meanwhile these groups silently cornered benefits from government like job
reservation by getting themselves wrongly included in the category of backward communities
eligible for reservation.
Most vehement criticism about Nair-Ezhava unity came from
organizations like Indian
Union Muslim League (IUML), Popular Front of India andJama at Council. The other main criticism
came from Mahila Congress. The critics have targeted NSS mainly, which
represent Nairs. An analysis of the reasons for their opposition leads to the
conclusion that they fear that the benefits they wrongly took away may be lost
in the emerging situation. Even if it does not happen they won’t be able to get
undue benefits anymore. Actually Nair-Ezhava unity will restore the true
secular character of Kerala society which is under threat r currently. Let us
analyse how Nair-Ezhava unity will benefit secularism.
History of unity moves
Since the state of Kerala was formed in 1956, merging the
erstwhile kingdoms of Travancore in the south, Kochi in the middle and Malabar
(Calicut) in north, power was shared by an elite group of four dominant
communities; Nairs, Christians, Ezhavas and Muslims. These communities often
formed alliances among themselves whenever they wanted to gain an upper hand or
when they found that one in the group was getting upper hand.
Ezhavas and Nairs, the biggest Hindu castes in Kerala first
formed an alliance in 1950s to counter the caste inequilibrium in Indian
National Congress’ state leadership which was then dominated by Christian
leaders but Nair masses were a major vote bank of Congress. But the unity did
not last long. There had been allegations that fissures in the Nair-Ezhava were
brought about by those who felt threatened by the emerging new force. Of
course, the criticism was aimed at Christian leaders of Congress.
Though Muslim League was a significant force in Kerala
politics even during 1950s, then they did not control power in Kerala and their
agenda was limited. So they did not vehemently oppose Nair Ezhava unity then.
Slowly by 1970’s, stake of IUML in Kerala politics grew and population of
Muslims in Kerala also grew rapidly.
The first intelligent move of IUML aimed at gaining more
social influence and power in Kerala was floating of the idea unity of backward
castes and Muslims in Kerala which clearly aimed to reduce influence of NSS
representing Nairs in Kerala politics. Media and academicians were also used to
spread the idea that forward castes, especially Nairs in the past had exploited
backward communities. This is actually a travesty of truth as influential sections
among major castes and religions in Kerala had exploited backward communities.
Using backward communities as a shield to fight Nairs,
certain religious groups got reservation for jobs in Kerala. Remember
reservation based on religion is not approved by constitution of India. Till a
few decades back reservation benefits were given to only backward sections in
Muslim religion in Kerala. Now almost everybody in that religion gets it by
getting themselves branded as backwards.
scenario and new emerging equations
Because of the changed demography of Kerala, parties like
Muslim League do not need the support of organizations of backward communities
or scheduled castes now. Kerala Media has pointed out that Muslim population as
a percentage of total population in
Kerala in 1960s was around 18 per cent currently it is around 25 per cent. It
is now difficult to defeat Muslim League candidates in many of their
constituencies. While NSS or SNDP may have influence in certain regions in
Kerala organizations like Muslim League or Sunni Yuvajana Sanghom have
international influence. NSS and SNDP are simply no match to them. The
demographical change, increased representation in ministries and the socialprogress gained by minority communities in
Kerala have made the idea of Minority-Backward coalition meaningless. Minority
groups in Kerala have now rejected the idea as they have new aims.
Though Nair community is branded as forward a major section
of the community is now economically backward.Now backward communities and Nairs have realized that both of them have
lost by their needless rivalry. When they fought jackals were waiting to lick
their blood first and eat their flesh when they lose their strength.
Nair-Ezhava unity is a symbiotic relationship and both communities are likely
to benefit. Moreover, it will restore social equilibrium in Kerala which had
been facing threat due to change in demography and socio-economic conditions.
Thus it will benefit the whole society and reduce communal tensions there by
giving rise to a true secular society.