The Sachar Committee report incontrovertibly accepts that the Kerala Muslims are much different from the rest of the Muslims of India. It is true in Kerala several Hindu jatis (castes) are far behind the Muslims. The socio-economic condition of some of the forward Hindu (savarna) jatis, which were accounted as frontward during the Independence time is too pathetic. That political parties came to power since the inception of this State is very particular to impoverish the forward Hindu jatis through various popular measures. Several of the Hindu jatis, whether they are forward or backward, lost the battle because of lack of numerical strength as well as lapse of functioning as vote banks. The best example is the Hindu Vanvasis who are struggling for a piece of land. It is true in India several Hindu castes are in front of Muslims in the case of poverty and socio-economic backwardness. But these are not accounted for by the Sachar Committee.
In the line of UPA government at Centre, LDF government in Kerala appointed another Committee under one of its ministers Paloli Muhammed Kutty to woo Muslim votes in the coming elections. The committee included some known Muslim nepotists as its members. The committee'smost shameful recommendation was the formation of exclusive Muslim colonies. Through this suicidal recommendation the committee is justifying the growing social segregation syndrome, the latest social phenomena, of the Muslim community of Kerala. The mainstream communist parties of Kerala after the collapse of Soviet Union and the dramatic changes in China are eager to woo minorities and the bourgeoisie. Therefore, the ongoing administration in Kerala is functioning basically as anti-Hindu and anti-national.
On the basis of the above milieu, it is genuine to make an enquiry in the socio-economic and political condition of the Kerala Muslims with the available data. The first question is, on which parameters the well-being of a community should be assessed? Whether it is on the basis of a community'sshare in the scarce government jobs or not? The share in the government jobs, which falls below one per cent of the total population, is the yardstick to measure the social status of a community? If the government job is the lone unit of social development, most of the developed countries populations are to be included in the list of backwards. So, it is not so. Another question comes before this enquiry is whether the other sources of income and the educational institutions under the ownership of the community should be accounted while evaluating their social standards or not? Further one is, whether non-monetary units could be considered while measuring the social status of a community? If all these questions were considered by Paloli Committee in its efforts of enquiry on the Muslim backwardness the picture will be a different one.
Let us examine the specific situation of Kerala. The Chief Minister had informed the Legislative Assembly of Kerala during March 2005 that government had 4,86,131 employees. Then government is disbursing Rs.488.35 crores as salary on every month (Malayalam Manorama, daily, Kottayam, dated March 19, 2005). It is the greatest paradox that aided school and college teachers form the part of government employees of Kerala. Of the total government employees 1,66,119 are aided school teachers (See Keralam 2000, State Language Institute, Trivandrum, pp 908, 909). Similarly out of the 290 Arts and Science Colleges, 148 are aided and 104 are un-aided colleges. The government has only 38 colleges. (Economic Review 2004, State Planning Board). The benefits of the government colleges are open to all irrespective of religious differences. Ninety percent of the aided educational institutions of Kerala are owned by minority religious groups. The total strength of college lecturers as on 1999 was 14,000 (from 1999 government banned the appointment). Out of the 14,000 college lecturers 10,620 are hailing from minority communities. The minority colleges had retaining 5,310 as non-teaching staff, which are in the muster rolls of the state exchequer. If one deducts the employees of the aided educational institutions, the exact number of employees whose appointment was made through PSC will be 3,04,082.
The present riddle begins with the argument that 24.7 per cent of the Muslims satisfying with 11.4 per cent (according to the study?Kerala Padanam p 71?published in 2006 by Marxist Party organ Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad) government jobs. The originators of this enigma ignoring the fact that 37.5 per cent (1,82,049) of the government employees form the part of the aided educational institutions and 90 per cent of which are under the minority community management. If one deducts the number of the aided school and college employees, then the Muslim share in the government service will shoot up to 18.22 per cent. So, the Muslim shortage in the service is 6.48 per cent by ignoring the fact that the Muslim community is one of the chief beneficiaries of aided educational institutions.
As far as the religious minorities of Kerala are concerned the government jobs are the least attractive in monetary terms. Let us enquire into the representation in their chief priority areas like overseas job, business, trade, agriculture, etc.
Why the cent per cent literate state like Kerala fielded such small number of Muslims to government jobs? The salary of a school teacher in the state service is Rs. 6,269, a Lower Division Clerk is Rs. 6,089 (Kerala Padanam, p 65). Similarly, a last grade employee in the state service is drawing Rs. 4,300. On the other hand a Muslim employed abroad sending Rs. 6,709 per month to his house. Similarly, a Hindu who got employment abroad is sending only Rs. 4,522 to his family and a member hailing from SC community'sshare is Rs. 3,066 (Kerala Padanam, p 52). It is natural that the more employment opportunities and better salary along with schmaltziness made Gulf Countries first in the priority to the Muslims of Kerala. But at the same time to the Hindus including SCs the job in the state service is in monetary terms better than the Gulf and obviously their first priority would be the same.
As per 2001 census, Kerala has 22,58,000 Muslim households. Of this 34.3 per cent (7,73,465 families) Muslim households have gulf employed members (Kerala Padanam, p. 52). On the other hand 52,58,631 Hindu households have only 10.4 per cent (5,46,897) overseas employment. In short, in the entire Muslim households of Kerala 1/3rd have a member with overseas employment. Similarly the dalit and Vanvasi community'sshare in the overseas employment is very negligible as compared to other communities. (Kerala Padanam, p. 50). Of the 8,51,475 ST households only 3.3 per cent have the overseas fortune. According to CDS study in 2004 there were about 18.4 lakh Malayalees secure jobs abroad (Study by K.C. Zachria & S. Irudayarajan sponsored by CDS Trivandrum. See The New Indian Express, Kochi, dated July 16, 2004). Now its number is more. Among the 18.4 lakh 43.7 per cent are Muslims, 31.2 per cent are Hindus and 25.1 per cent are Christians (Economic Review 2004, State Planning Board, February 2005, p. 428). Then how can be a Kerala Muslim become a backward in fiscal terms.
Annual foreign remittance through legitimate channel is more than 28,937 crore. Fifty six percent of this fund is of the Muslims community. At the same time in 2004-05 government disbursed Rs. 5,860.2 crore as salary to its 4,86,000 employees. Of the 76,57,000 Muslims of the state, more than 7,80,000 persons employed in gulf sector. Amongst the government servants, according to the official statistics, 11.4 per cent (55,404) are Muslims. But the Paloli Committee suppressed the fact that the lion share of fairly earning sections of Kerala is Muslims.
Let us examine the minority communities? shares in the industry, agriculture, trade and commerce sector of Kerala. The industrial sectors, 30 per cent and 35 per cent is respectively under the control of the Muslims and Christians. In the agriculture sector, Muslims hold 23 per cent and the Christians? hold is 40 per cent. In trade and commerce sectors Muslims and Christians correspondingly hold 40 per cent and 36 per cent. Conversely the all castes of Hindus hold in the segments such as industrial is 28 per cent, in agriculture is 24 per cent, and trade-commerce is 22 per cent. Don'tforget the fact that certain weakest Hindu castes shares in the above sectors may be zero. (K. C. Zachariah, CDS Study, report: The New Indian Express, Cochin, July 16, 2004).
It is genuine to examine the land owning patter of Kerala. The per household land owning of all Hindus is 69.1 per cent, of Muslims it is 77.1 per cent and in the case of Christians it is 126.4 per cent. (Kerala Padanam, p. 54). The Hindu population of Kerala as per the 2001 census is 56.2 per cent. Of them 5.5 per cent are farmers and 18.3 per cent are farm labourers. The Muslim population as per the latest census is 24.7 per cent and among them 6.1 per cent are farmers and 11.8 per cent are farm labourers. The 19.1 per cent Christians are the most blessed and 12.8 per cent of them are farmers and 11.2 per cent are agricultural labourers. The number of BPL people is too high among Hindu communities. It is 39.3 lakh amongst the Hindus. On the other hand it is 24.7 lakh and 8.2 lakh respectively amongst the Muslims and Christians. Another important disparity between the minorities and the Hindus exits in the case of the possession of habitable houses. 89.7 per cent Muslims are living in habitable and pucca houses. On the other hand in the case of Christians and Hindus it is 80.1 per cent and 83.6 per cent respectively. (Kerala Padanam, p 48). While considering the economic parameters, who can push the Muslims in the dustbin of backwardness?
Kerala has number one position in the case of suicides. It is 30.5 per lakh and above the national average of 11.2 per lakh. The main reasons behind most of the suicides are economic difficulties. The main victims of this suicide tempo are the Hindus. Of the total suicides Hindus? share is 92 per cent, Christians? is 6.5 per cent and Muslims? is 1.5 per cent. The suicides and their causes are least affected by the Muslims of Kerala and it is sufficient testimony to the healthy social living of the community.
Let us see the health and hygiene scenario of the Muslims of Kerala. The highest number of hospitals are located in Muslim majority districts of the state. Malappuram, one of the Muslim majority districts of Kerala, has the highest number (123) of government Allopathic hospitals. In addition to it there are 237 private Allopathic hospitals, 554 Ayurvedic hospitals and 165 Homeopathic hospitals are functioning in this district (Keralam 2000, State Language Institute, Trivandrum, pp 915-18). Lowest numbers (40) of government Allopathic hospitals are functioning at Wayanad district. Kottayam district is one of the well advanced regions in the socio-cultural scenario of Kerala and has only 85 government Allopathic hospitals. Similarly 20.8 per cent of the Muslim students are studying in the English medium schools. On the other hand the Hindu share in this envious educational field is 20.5 per cent (Kerala Padanam, p 96).
Usually in Kerala, women seeking jobs are only from economically non-stable families. 35 per cent of the ST women and 31.1 per cent of the SC women are earning through jobs. In the case of Hindus, Christians and Muslims, women job seeker ratio is 28.8 per cent, 21.5 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. (Kerala Padanam, p 117). It is the reality that in the contemporary Kerala, highly qualified Muslim women are reluctant to go for jobs. Kerala Muslim women are equally or more literate and qualified to their Hindu and Christian counterparts. The paradox is that while they were quite illiterate their dress code was native: while 10 per cent in the old generation are using purdha 31.6 per cent of the young generations are clad with purdha. (Kerala Padanam, p 135).
In the case of food habits and intake of nutritious food the Muslim community of Kerala is far ahead to others. 81.7 per cent of the Muslim households are regularly preparing the breakfast. At the same time in the case of Hindus and STs this is 65.8 per cent and 31.6 per cent respectively. (Kerala Padanam, p. 130). Above all, the Muslim community in Kerala is too far long to other groups in the case of taking high calorie food. (Kerala Padanam, p 132).
If using of purdha, polygamy, teenage marriage and non-compliance to family planning are the parameters of backwardness the remedy recommended by the Paloli Committee is not worthy and it will further pull them backward. The villain of the Muslim backwardness is their religious convictions popularised by the Mullahs.
Whether Paloli or Sachar, it is a shameful trend that all of them are trying to assess the social position and range of the Muslims through the lure of the government jobs: either scavenger or IAS. You just decide who are backward in Kerala?
(The writer is Prof. of History, Mahatma Gandhi University and can be contacted at [email protected])