CM defends 10% quota for forward caste poor

Pinarayi says it will not infringe on Dalit, backward class reservation

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the 10% reservation for the indigent among forward caste communities will not upset the quota of any other Dalit or socially or educationally backward community currently eligible for affirmative action.

Inaugurating the socio-economic survey to identify the poor among forward community members here on Saturday, Mr. Vijayan said some forces had attempted to create social discord by propagandising that the forward caste reservation would eat into the quota of other eligible groups.

They were trying to fuel sectarian passions by falsely claiming that the Government was trying to replace financial backwardness instead of social backwardness as a basis for reservation eligibility.

Mr. Vijayan said the 10% reservation would lift the poorest among forward caste communities from poverty and give them a leg-up in life. Currently, they were outside the reservation system.

The forward caste quota would not eat into the reservation existing for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Socially and Educationally Backward Castes in government jobs and public-funded institutions.

Mr. Vijayan said some argued that caste alone should be the point of reference for extending reservation. Others state that financial backwardness or poverty should be the sole standard for affirmative action.

The Government has calibrated its approach to the reservation after factoring in social and economic realities. It would create a circumstance that would allow every person to live and thrive, he said.

Currently, a nefarious attempt was afoot to divide the very masses who fight the daily deprivations of crushing poverty. Kerala should stand as one to defeat such revanchism, the Chief Minister said.

The Centre had accorded States freedom to calibrate their respective forward caste reservation policy based on the ground situation. Consequently, the LDF Government had appointed a commission chaired by retired judge Sasidharan Nair to study the social situation and give recommendations, he said.

The current survey was to study the socio-economic issues faced by 164 communities outside the ambit of reservation. The survey did not intend to identify the recipients of welfare schemes among the forward communities to strike them off the eligibility list, as alleged by some quarters, Mr. Vijayan said.

The sample survey was to gauge economic deprivation among forward castes and target welfare accordingly. It would identify the five most economically backward families among forward communities in every local body ward. A Cabinet sub-committee would monitor the survey, Mr. Vijayan said.

The Government had tasked the Kerala State Commission for Economically Backward Classes among Forward Communities to conduct the survey. Kudumbashree workers would lead the social survey, Mr. Vijayan said.

The survey would identify the most economically backward families from forward caste communities at the local bodies’ level. The Government had sanctioned an initial amount of ₹80 lakh for the survey, Mr. Vijayan said.

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