Kerala has been acclaimed for its long-running political traditions, social reform movements, high literacy levels and life expectancy as well as achievements in health and social sectors.
But the state is apparently teetering along the routes to the seemingly forgotten casteism or social stratification as substantiated by a series of articles titled ‘Keralam Navachaturvarnyathileku’, published in ten issues by Madhyamam. The social discrimination, untouchability, ostracisation of backward communities or classes that once existed as a significant part of culture are still lingering in all sections of the society as well as in the case of the Central authorities. The promulgation of Right wing ideologies in politics and decline of the Left Front are also evident. The social evils like casteism are gradually tightening its clutches even on democracy and the modern technological world. Despite the efforts by the government to even out the social differences through reservation, the discrimination and prejudices still exist in the minds of people belonging to the higher strata of the society. Even after sixty years of Vaikom Satyagraha, the movement that aimed to secure the civil rights of the low caste people, the caste system and the social inequalities that come with it still exist in Kerala.
The Intolerance towards the aboriginals and people belonging to the ST/SC is rampant in the state. While they have separate seating arrangements in schools, the level of discrimination is much higher in public institutions, workplaces and even in neighbourhoods. The miseries of the outcast in Idukki district go unnoticed by the political leaders and the law makers. Unwritten criteria based on caste and religion exit in the field of higher education for the admission and enrollment of students, distribution of fellowships, appointments and promotions as well as in bureaucracy and governance. Casteism has manipulated the Muslims and Christians who have always denounced it and taken a firm stand against the social evil. While the Left Front and the social media have fallen prey to its influence, the intellectuals and the cultural leaders hesitate to resist the rapidly growing impact of the invisible yet powerful presence of casteism that disintegrate the society.
There are several instances of social inequalities within the political parties as well as the government sectors. The present institutionalization of schools and offices facilitate the growth of such inequalities. The upper class supremacy is intensifying at the national level, making power, traditions and institutions vulnerable to the impact of caste system. The traces of casteism continue to linger in public consciousness. The goal of reservation is to even out the differences and inequalities existing among the classes and to lift the downtrodden onto the mainstream. Tolerance and open-mindedness to treat the people belonging to the same race and the society as equals is also required along with ensuring reservation procedures which otherwise would be a retrograde step towards the erstwhile casteism.