Why Hindus lag behind in Kerala

  • By Dr C I Issac
  • June 2006
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A powerful field that can control society is education. At present, the education sector in Kerala is under the control of minorities, who are politically influential and economically sound through the remittances made by Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs).

While minorities run 3340 schools in the state, the entire Hindu jatis are in possession of just 194 schools. Muslim and Christian communities manage 223 arts and science colleges whereas all Hindu jatis together manage only 42 colleges (vide ‘Matrubhumi’ daily, September 28, 2002). Out of the 433 professional colleges, only 86 are government-owned, 89 are Hindu-managed while 258 are managed by the minorities (G.K. Suresh Babu, ‘Kesari Annual, 2004).

Though all minorities are permitted to impart religious education in their institutions, this right is denied to Hindu institutions. Moreover, Hindu students in minority institutions are forced to study moral science, which infuse anti-Hindu sentiments in them. This is the best known Kerala model of secularist-democratic paradigm.

Why does it happen so? No doubt, the reason is that Hindus are economically and politically a marginalized group in Kerala. If the lessons in history of ancient civilizations were destroyed by Semitic religions’ invasion, the situation is not very different for Hindus in Kerala. A major share of the state exchequer is spent on education. The last 48 years reveal that only one Hindu minister handled the portfolio of education and that, too for a period of four years and three months. Otherwise, for the rest of the period, this portfolio has been handled by ministers belonging to only minority communities.

The minority ministers, who managed the portfolio of education, helped only the minority community managements in an out-of the way manner. Lending a helping hand to minority institutions was similar for both, the Right and the Left coalitions. Both coalitions still follow minority appeasement as their de facto policy. This will result in an alarming situation.

Of the state’s 199,000 schoolteachers, the Hindu share (inclusive of SCs/STs) is just 38 percent. According to the 1997 statistics, Kerala had 14200 college teachers of whom 76 percent belonged to minority communities (G. K. Suresh Babu). All these statistics show of an unorganized, demographically ever-shrinking Hindu community of Kerala.

In health care also, the minorities have an upper hand. The Hindu community owns just ten hospitals against 928 belonging to the minorities (‘Matrubhumi’).

Similarly, the Hindu share in the industry, agriculture and commerce is 28, 24 and 28 percent, respectively. At the same time, the Muslim share is 30, 23 and 40 percent and Christian share is 35, 40 and 36 percent, respectively (‘Matrubhumi’). I think, like the Hindus of Kerala, no other community in the world is marginalized as much. In several sectors, Hindus lag behind but in the case of suicides, they are leaders. Kerala’s suicidal rate is above the national average; it is 30.5 for every one lakh population. A recent NGO study reveals that 92 percent suicides were committed by Hindus. 6.5 percent by Christians and 1.5 percent by Muslims. Insolvency is the main reason for the mass suicides in Kerala.

The Kerala government’s allotment of new self-financing professional colleges has come as a rude shock to the marginalized Hindus of Kerala. Due to the economic backwardness of the Hindus, it is difficult to compete with the minority communities for starting professional colleges. The result will be that those socially and economically backwards in the Hindu society will be kicked out of competition. In medical education field alone, the Hindus will lose 250 seats every year. The Hindus coming in the purview of reservation will lose 3800 engineering seats and 100 MBBS seats every year. After two decades, in the SC/ST section alone, there will be a shortage of 74000 engineers and 2000 doctors at the present rate.

Education and economic progress are closely linked with Kerala life. Therefore, any imbalance arising in the educational field will be reflected a hundred times in the economic scenario. In the near future, because of educational backwardness alone, Hindus will be forced to live on the periphery of society.

In the democratic process, votes are decisive factors. No doubt, the numerically ever-shrinking Hindus will lose relevance in the political structure of Kerala in the near future. Since Independence, for every decade, the Hindu population in Kerala has been falling at the rate of more than 1 percent. If this trend continues, within three decades, Hindus will lose their majority statues in the state. At present, technically the Hindus are the majority community. But the minority religious groups have a clear sway over the political, economic and educational fields of Kerala. It is no wonder that Hindus of Kerala, who are destined to be minority in the near future, will be thrown out of all fields of socio-economic activities. This will be a great tragedy for Hindus.

In 1947, Muslims in India were a minority community. They were 24 percent. But even that marginal strength of the Muslims led to the division of India. Today, Nagaland and Mizoram have turned into Christian-majority states. In these states, discontent and insurgency, along with divisive tendencies, have surfaced. To a large section of the Christian brethren, the Hindus have become an indigestive element in the northeast. If so, what will be the history of Kerala after three decades?

(By Dr C.I. Issac, Head of the PG Department of History, CMS College, Kottayam, Kerala.)