Communist parties and upper-caste collectives have always been telling the society that caste reservation is bad, what is needed is economic reservation wherein lies progress. Communist guru EMS Namboodiripadu has stated that caste reservation will only serve to perpetuate casteism and that caste reservation will destroy merit. Namboodiripad's Brahmanism is the Communism in Kerala-at the least-even though Communists might not be ready to accept it.Let us park that issue for the time being.
The Central Government has initiated its attempts to add caste reservation to the existing economic reservation through the 103rd Amendment to the Constitution. A year before that, the CPI(M)-led government in Kerala had implemented progressive caste reservation in the name of economic reservation in the Travancore Devaswom Board. However one does not have to explain the Communists' interest in securing a special stake of 10 per cent in the Devaswom Board, of which only 96 per cent are from upper caste.The public has to introspect about what the political parties have said and done for the public.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says that we are giving this reservation to provide relief to those in distress. Communist spokespersons state that they aimed to give a share of the reservation to those who were leaving their caste and religion and beyond all, the poor sections. However, it would be worthwhile to examine what all they have implemented. In fact, they have not made these reservations for the poor. They meant the backward people only of the upper castes. It is a well-known fact that the upper caste communities y enjoy power and wealth. The majority of the rich are from upper castes. 90% of the upper castes are super rich. It is fair to say that 10 percent of them are poor. But the one eligible for the current reservation category includes millionaires of the upper castes. It is strange that according to the current poverty standard, those with four lakh rupees of earnings and two and a half acres of property are considered to be poor!
Let me point out a fact directly relevant to the Higher Secondary admission that I am familiar with. A child from a fisherman family in Njarakkal area in Ernakulam District, who has got a rank near 300 was denied admission this year. However, a child from an upper caste whose rank was above 1,000, secured a seat. The government has commissioned Justice Sasidharan Nair to find "backward" among "forward community". But, the government through the Sasidharan Nair Commission has followed its usual trick comparable to fixing horoscopes by giving money. There is nothing credible in the report about population and poverty. The Commission has not even heard the views of the public. The public needs to understand the duplicity of politicians on this issue.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala from Congress party said that those who are earning less than Rs 5 lakh should be considered poor. According to KB Ganesh Kumar,(Former minister and Kerala Congress(B) leader), all the lower castes below the creamy layer limit (which finds the rich among the backward) should be considered as poor. PC George, who is one and the only independent MLA in the state and lenient towards NDA often, is of the opinion that those with earnings of Rs 10 lakh are to be considered poor. C Divakaran has asked the commission to collect information from the State Planning Board. These are the opinions of various political parties.
It would be good to check the facts after the reservation is made.
In Kerala, reserved seats for OBCs are allotted in government schools in the Higher Secondary department. This is where reservation in the name of poverty is implemented. The reservation for OBCs in the government quota is 28 per cent. 20 percent is SC/ST reservation. The general quota is only 52 per cent of the total seats. As such, only 10 percent of this should be allowed for forward reservation. The total number of seats is 1,62,815. Of that, 52 percent are 84,664 seats. 10 percent of this is 8466 seats. However, the government has allotted 16,711 seats for forward reservation in the higher secondary sector. This is more than 10 percent of the total in government schools. Thus, one has to understand that this is a complete deception and fraud.
Now let's take a look at professional colleges. In Kerala, there is a total of 10 government medical colleges. And the total seats are only 1555. 30 percent of the seats are reserved for OBC and 10 per cent for SC-ST category. It should be noted that reservation will be applicable only in the 1132 seats after setting aside the Central quota. Of these, a total of 419 seats are reserved. The last 60 percent are general seats. Of this, 10 percent of seats are required for upper caste reservation. When the order was issued, 10 percent of the total seats were allotted for this category; thus, 130 seats have been set aside for forward reservation. The Ezhava, Thiya and Billawa sections got 93 seats. Muslims, who make up 27 per cent of the population, just got 84 seats. We can understand the clear case of discrimination from this. The lowest rank to secure a seat from the Ezhava community had a rank of 1654MBBS admission. From Muslilm community, the lowest to get a seat was rank 1417. The lowest rank from the backward Christian category was 4492 But, the student with a rank of 8461 in the category of economically weak of the upper caste got admission. Those who have argued that merit will suffer due to reservation, should at least answer this anomaly.
The same goes with PG seats in medical colleges. Out of the total 849 seats, reservation will be applicable for 427 -seats, after deducting the 422 all-India quota. The reservation for OBCs is nine per cent of the total. Three per cent is for Ezhava, Thiya and Billa sections, two per cent for Muslims and four per cent for the rest. The OBCs got a total of 38 seats while the upper castes got 31 seats. This is another clear case of robbery that violates the actual reservation norms.
The move now underway is to extend this reservation strategy to the employment sector as well. It is backed by the government and the bureaucracy. A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in the Mandal commission case (Indra Sawhney case) had ruled that upper caste reservation on economic grounds is unconstitutional. The government should step back from taking steps to introduce forward caste reservation in the employment sector. The government must at least show the minimum decency to not take any further action in this regard until the final judgment on the 103rd amendment to the Constitution, which is under considertion of the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court. The Chief Minister should at least realize that the advisers are trying to falsify the core issues.
(The author was former Director of Backward Community Development Department, Kerala.This article published in Madhyamam Daily is translated by Fathima Shareef)