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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kerala forms Forward Castes Corporation and Commission; a long standing demand of Nairs

Finally it seems Forward Castes in Kerala including Nairs who form 26 per cent of total population (according to official records) have been able to get something from the Government. Forward Castes Development Corporation constituted recently and Forward Castes Commission to be constituted shortly are definitely a solace to Kerala’s Forward castes (of whom majority are Nairs and secondly Syrian Christians. Brahmins form less than 1 % of population) who have been neglected by Congress and Left front governments that ruled Kerala ever since independence of India.

Newspapers that reported government’s decision to act for the welfare of forward castes have pointed out that as per officials surveys it is now clear that poor people of Forward Communities of Kerala have become socially and economically backward. The fact is that a significant number of Nairs in Kerala have become economically backward and this will result in they becoming socially backward also. While Forward Castes Development Corporation has already announced different scholarships for students the commission which has powers of civil court will also review condition of forward castes and may give suggestions for their welfare.

Discrimination against forward castes

Forward castes in Kerala have been discriminated against in every sense. They can apply only for 50 % of job vacancies in government services. Even in that category they have to compete with candidates from reserved groups. Their plight in getting government jobs does not end there. The rotation system followed by government in appointing those who are selected in competitive examinations held by Kerala PSC (state recruiting agency) means only almost 1/3 rd of the meritorious forward caste candidates selected in PSC exams will eventually be appointed. It means when an open merit candidate is appointed, then a scheduled caste candidate and next a backward caste candidate has to be appointed before the next open merit candidate gets chance for appointment.

It is a shocking truth that chances of getting appointment for candidates from reserved categories in government service is several times higher than more meritorious candidates from Forward castes.

Then there is reservation in promotion too. In some departments in Kerala it is almost impossible for officials from forward castes to become the head. In many departments number of officials belonging to forward castes is very few not even reflecting their proportionate numerical strength in the society.

While members of reserved communities including Muslims got several types of financial helps in addition to reservation, forward castes did not get much. Scholarships given to SC, ST, OBC, Muslim, and Christians from reserved categories are enough for them to pursue education. But Nair students who come from poor families get little help. While even children of rich businessmen who belong to reserved categories get financial aid and reservation poor Nair children and youth whose parents are labourers won’t get anything. Moreover they are abused as Forward Castes and denied benefits.

Unscientific classification of Forward and Backward castes
The classification of castes as forward and backward is totally unscientific because forward and backwardness are relative. For example while Nairs are forward castes compared to Ezhavas and SC, STs they are backward compared to Brahmins. Similarly while Ezhavas were socially backward compared to Nairs they were forward compared to all other OBCs and SC/STs. There was hierarchy even among Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The topmost in hierarchy among scheduled castes practiced untouchability towards the rest.

Historical records in Kerala have pointed out that caste hierarchy was stricter among different castes now considered OBC and SC, STs. Even after all these years of practicing social justice, how many people belonging to OBCs will readily enter into a marriage alliance with SCs and STs? Not many will do it. So it is clear that the ploy of classification of castes was a trap by political parties to divide society and get votes. In Kerala all Muslims are considered OBCs. This is just an appeasement considering the fact that Muslims have never been discriminated against in the history of Kerala and they have a respectable status. (They were called Sahib and Muthalali etc, all pointing to their high status)

Congratulations to NSS leadership and Kerala CM Oommen Chandy
Media analysis of the decision of Kerala govt to form Forward caste corporation and Commission says as NSS leadership has now distanced from Kerala CM Oommen Chandy and Congress, the govt resorted to welfare measures to appease Nairs. Whatever may the reason be, the decision is welcome for Nairs. Others could have done that but they did not. So Oommen Chandy needs be congratulated for this act. But this does not also mean all Nairs who distanced from Congress will comeback. Forward Caste Development Corporation and Commission are rights of Nairs. We expect government to end all types of caste based discrimination.

The government needs to prove that it is sincere in its approach to uplift forward castes. Forward Castes' Development Corporation needs to be given enough funds and Forward Castes' Commissions needs to have enough powers. The government should implement it also earnestly. Recently it had been reported that kerala govt has reduced qualifying marks of OBC students in SET examination (eligibility test for becoming teachers) while increased it for Forward Caste students. This is shocking. This proves government is going forward with appeasement.

It is true that the strict stand of current NSS general secretary Sukumaran Nair towards Congress govt that forced the government to declare some welfare measures for Forward castes. NSS had severed all ties with Congress recently and said that it won’t support Congress candidates in the coming elections. The Congress knows very well that many of their candidates in the coming Lok Sabha elections cannot win without votes of Nairs and so came out with welfare measures.


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