Kerala has several boards and corporations formed to implement various government programmes,; and all of them have board members and chairpersons. But there is only one corporation fortunate to have a chairman with cabinet rank: Forward Class development Corporation. The very name of 'Forward Castes Development Corporation' is a contradiction in terms, with an underlying question why castes already in forward category need to be developed further. That question aside, why should its chairman alone enjoy the privilege that the other corporations do not have? What distinction does the forward caste development corporation have that the minority development corporation doesn't? The answer would be that it is the policy of Pinarayi Vijayan's government. For the Left government is, in a manner unprecedented in history, pursuing a policy of appeasing the upper/forward castes. Most recently, it introduced the 10 per cent forward caste reservation (under the name Economically Weaker Sections - EWS) and has been implementing it in all sectors at incredible speed. What is at issue is not only the conceptual dimensions of the philosophy of forward caste reservation, but the manner in which the very principle of reservation is being overturned in the process of government implementing it.
To cite some simple statistics: The backward community of Ezhavas makes up 23 per cent of the state's population. The total number of post-graduate seats in government medical colleges is 849. The seats reserved for Ezhavas is 13. Muslims form 26 per cent of the population, and their share of medical PG seats reserved is nine. Taking all forward castes together, their population will be 20 per cent. The seats they get is 30. In percentage terms the share of reserved medical PG seats is: Ezhavas three, Muslims two, backward Hindu one, Latin one and forward communities 10. Even earlier, the rate of reserved seats in medical PG for backward castes had been low. That happened because of the presence of all-India quota. That means, the basis adopted for rate of seats under quota was computed after deducting all-India quota seats. But, paradoxically enough, the quota for forward castes was computed based on the total seats. In the case of MBBS seats too, it is the same computation that is followed. In this, Ezhavas and Muslims get 94 and 84 reserved seats respectively, whereas forward castes get 130 reserved seats. As a result, when an applicant ranked 8416 in the entrance list from the forward castes got admission, from the Ezhava community only those with rank upto 1654 got admission. It is more impressive in higher secondary seats, in which Ezhavas and Muslims have total of 13,002 and 11,313 seats respectively. But forward castes get 16,711 seats. There is a still more baffling aspect to it. The students in Malabar are a section suffering due to shortage of seats. And even as students in many districts of Malabar scramble for seats, the seats liberally allocated for forward caste students lie vacant for want of enough applicants!
All put together, what the left government is implementing in Kerala is a queer model of upper caste reservation that is unheard of in the rest of India. Even in states ruled by the BJP, which is always at the forefront of advocacy for upper caste quota, this extent of reservation does not exist. As a matter of fact, 10 percent is the upper limit of reservation for forward castes. But in Kerala, the starting point itself has been seat at 10 percent. What the reservation statistics in Kerala expose are shocking tales of upper caste appeasement as well as betrayal of backward castes.
However, the main opposition party, the Congress does not have the political will to question this. The leadership of that party too is in the hands of upper caste supremacists. What is more intriguing is the silence observed by Muslim League for whom reservation is part of its political agenda. Is the Muslim League also looking aghast before upper caste fiats? The government policy, which wrecks the very concept of reservation in practice calls for a broad and united action from among backward sections to undo the injustice.