Review quota norm for communities

PALAKKAD: A study on `Social stratification among the Muslims in Kerala' has called for a review of "treating communities as a whole for granting reservation."

The study found that some sections of Muslims in Kerala enjoyed a higher social, economic and political status. The study conducted by P.R.G. Mathur, Chairman, International Commission on Urgent Anthropological Research, South Indian Regional Centre, Palakkad, says the "Muslims caste system is part of the overall caste system in Kerala rather than a separate caste system."
According to the study, there are 10 distinct Muslim endogamous communities in the State. "They can be hierarchically ranked on the basis of purity and pollution idea, traditional occupation, foreign origin and distinct lifestyles.

The study said there were eight such "inter-generally continuous identifiable social groups" in Travancore and Cochin areas.

Dr. Mathur said "the analysis of social stratification among the Muslim societies in India is inseparable from the analysis of the historical and socio-economic structure as a whole. In Kerala, the Muslim caste system is part of the overall caste system rather than a separate one."

Foreign origin
"The Muslim communities in Kerala who claim foreign origin have a higher social status than the local converts, particularly from the untouchable castes."

Another study on `The Non-Mappila Muslim Communities of Kerala,' commissioned by the National Commission for Backward Classes, had also found that "certain sections of Muslims in Kerala enjoy higher social status."

The Anantha Krishna Iyer International Centre for Anthropological Studies (AICAS), which was entrusted by the National Commission `to find out whether there were, in the erstwhile Travancore and Cochin areas, one or more than one distinct, identifiable, inter-generationally continuous social groups of Muslims,' found there were 10 distinct Muslim endogamous communities in Kerala.

The study said unlike the rest of India, Muslims did not come to Kerala as conquerors. They were primarily traders who supported missionaries and religious leaders to minister themselves, as well as to convert the native population.

Dr. Mathur said that ever since the practice of treating communities as `backward' for the purposes of granting reservation in jobs and education began, the Mappilas have always been considered `backward' both at the State and national level.

But, on the basis of these recent studies, the National Commission has recommended the exclusion of Kerala Muslims with foreign origin who enjoyed a higher status socially and financially from the `list of backward communities.'


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