It is an year since the Forward Caste reservation has been implemented in Kerala in the name of reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). The Left government of Kerala was way ahead of the Central government which was late to implement the virtually savarna reservation. The reservation implemented for non-reserved categories of EWS turned out to be caste reservation for the Savarna communities. On the same day when the criteria for those who deserve reservation was made, this reservation had become one for the rich.
Though it had limited the annual income for eligibility of forward caste limitationto four lakh rupees, the state government had fixed such criteria that those who own assets worth crores of rupees also could be included in the eligible category. Thus, one of the savarna community, who owns a plot of 50 cents in Kochi Corporation also will be considered as poor. If the land, whether in Panchayat or Municipality limits, does not exceed more than 2.5 acres, the owner is still categorized as poor. The state government had relied on the Justice Sasidharan Nair report for its implementation.
Those who own assets worth crores of rupees were also included in the reservation limits on the argument that the criteria fixed by the Union government cannot be applied in Kerala as such and publicly confessed. If so,the argument ran, the eligible hands from the communities will be low in number. Even then, as revealed in the case of Plus-One admission, the number of applicants from the communities is lower than actually allotted for them.
Not enough takers despite generous conditions
Even Justice Sasidharan Nair's expectations were subverted in the Plus-One admission of this year. 16,711 seats were set apart for the savarna categories. However, when the main allotments were completed, there were only 6025 applicants which translates into 36 percent of the allotted seats. As a result, upper caste reserved seats are left vacant in a state where thousands of deserving students are denied chances of Plus-One admission even in the self finance sector.
A sample is Kilimanoor Govt School of Thiruvanthapuram. The rank of the Scheduled Caste (SC) student admitted last to the course is 1638. The correspondin Muslim student's rank is 733. Ezhava – 758 andBackward Hindu -954. However, the lowest rank of the savarna category is 2175. In other words, when the chance of the most weakened category of the country ended up with the 1638th rank, the 2175th rank holder from the savarna category of Thiruvananthapuram district got admission. Not only that, the 484 seats allotted in the district for the savarna category did not have any takers.
The reservation quota lying vacant is attributed also to the anti-social usurpation of seats under the guise of savarna reservation. As per the law implemented through the constitutional amendment, the forward caste reservation ceiling is 10 percent. However, this limit has been transgressed in many sectors in Kerala. Higher Secondary education is an instance in this regard. 16,711 out of the total 1,62,815 higher secondary seats were allotted for the forward castes. It means that they were allotted 430 more seats than the 10 percent they deserve. In other words, they were given 11 percent. Ezhava (got 13,002 seats), Muslims (11,313 seats) and other backward communities did not get this amount of seats. There are no laws or rules to justify the awardof the surplus seats to this extent. The offer to allow extra seats in order to implement upper caste reservation was also not fulfilled. Even after plundering so many seats for the favoured castes, not enough students turned up for admission. At last, 10,686 seats were shifted to the general category.
Reservation beyond limits in coveted MBBS admission
When it comes to reservation in the most sought-after MBBS seats, forward castes got 12.35 percent seats. Even by the constitutional amendment for forward castes reservation, the maximum percentage is 10 percent. But in the 'progressive renaissance Kerala', it has touched 12.35 percent in MBBS. As per the prospectus published by the government for entrance exams, the number of seats for forward communities is 130. The government has no answer for the question this 130 is the 10 per cent of what number. The total seats in government colleges is 1400. Minus the different central quotas, the remaining seats is 1052. Ezhavas are eligible for 9 per cent of this, i.e. 94 seats, Muslims get 8 percent which is 84 seats. Other backward communities like Latin Christians get a similar ratio. As per this computation, the EWS category should be allocated 105 seats, but they get 130 instead! In other words, excess by 25 seats and forming more than 12 percent total. As part of implementing the forward community quota, the central government had allowed 155 seats for Kerala. What the state government did was to to allocate all seats after deducting all India quota.to the forward castes.
The explanation given to this anomalous allocation is a specious one unheard of in the country. The excess seats allowed to Kerala were given to medical colleges where seats were less. Thus Thiruvananthapuram Medical College got 42 more, but on condition that all those 42 seats should be given to forward castes. With this, out of the 25 seats in the most creditable medical college in the state, 42 seats got reserved for forward castes. Next to Thiruvananthapuram, the medical colleges that got the highest number of seats are those in Kottayam, Thrissur and Alappuzha – 21 each. This upper class-appeasement by Kerala government flies at the face of the most basic concept of social justice that reserved seats should be equally distributed among all colleges. The opportunity to secure seats in the general category of colleges in higher demand, is thus denied to the backward community candidates.
The Seat plunder in Medical PG
The plunder of seats is unparalleled in medical PG admissions. An unfair reservation ratio is being applied in the PG seats - the category in most demand. In this, the total seats allotted to all backward castes is 9 percent. Ezhavas get 3 and Muslims get 2. But forward castes get the full 10 percent. The number of seats is like this: Ezhava-13; Muslim-9. And forward castes-30 seats! This 30 is arrived at by taking the 297 seats, after deducting other reserved seats and then arriving at its 10 percent. It is only here that the government promise of finding seats for forward castes from general quota, is honoured. But, it is in an area where quota has been reduced for backward castes that forward castes enjoy full reservation.
In the Plus-One, MBBS and medical PG categories, upper-caste reservation is implemented at three levels. In medical colleges, all the additionally granted seats were treated as belonging to forward castes. In higher secondary level, reservation was given out of only existing seats. In MBBS and Plus-One, reservation level itself was raised toppling even constitutional provisions. In medical PG, the declared policy of 30 percent of general quota was implemented, but this was overturned in MBBS and Plus-One. In this category, forward castes got allotment of three times the quota of Ezhava quota, and it is five times the quota of Muslims.
In Kerala, the quota for backward communities does not have a unified policy and application. Unifying it and distributing it in proportion to population percentage has become an imperative with the introduction of forward castes reservation. In the least, the reservation ratio followed in Public Service Commission should be applied in education sector. Backward communities of Kerala have for decades been raising the grievance of not getting their due reservation in medical PG. The very fact that a bureaucracy and government machinery that have been steadily averse to this demand, were prompt in granting full reservation when it came to the matter of the forward castes, speaks volumes for the caste prejudices of the administrative apparatus ruling the roost.
Now Kerala is ruled by a political leadership at whose helm is CPM state secretary Kodiyeri who had, sitting on the shoulders of this bureaucracy, once challenged RSS whether it could implement such a reservation the way the left front did. If this challenge is accepted, the Mohan Bhagwat-Modi alliance is sure to capitulate before the Kodiyeri-Pinarayi combine!