The southern state of India is highly acclaimed for its achievements in education and healthcare. Kerala has been topping the chart for providing the best primary education and healthcare services when compared to all other states in the country. But the most illustrious quality of the state that both the changing UDF and LDF governments squabble to take credit for is the ‘secularism’ of the state. People of Kerala believe that the state is by far the most secular among all other states.
But many a times minority appeasement is misconstrued as secularism and unfortunately Kerala doesn’t have a different story to tell.
In the recent years, the Left have realised the relevance of polarisation in winning elections in the secular state of Kerala.
The Left and their Secularism
The left had already established their ideology during the inception of political awakening in the state. During those times like any other left establishment across the globe, the left in Kerala too strongly resisted religion and religious practices. But over the years we have witnessed a disturbing paradigm shift in approach of the Left towards certain religion and their beliefs and traditions. In the recent years, the Left have realized the relevance of polarization in winning elections in the secular state of Kerala. They have started fielding candidates of particular religion in the constituencies where that religion has a majority and they have started backing independent candidates who are supported by various religious institutions in majority in that constituency. Although veteran communists find this, an egregious violation of the communist fundamentals, new age communists believe such amendments in policies of the party is imperative to fight elections.
Left had always believed that they have a strong presence and influence among Hindu malayalees. Years of organised political stratagem by both congress and the Left have sabotaged the growth of the entire religion of Hinduism in the state. Both these parties have refused to allow the religion to be organised like the other religions to ensure their traditional votes keep flowing to them. While the organised religions on the other hand reserve their right to sell their votes in return for favors. The most recent testament for the same is the Left Government’s decision to set up Kerala Madrasa Teachers Welfare Fund Board to make available pension and other benefits for madrasa teachers.
If the intention of the Left was to address the plight of the madrassa tutors then something as simple as setting a minimum wage policy would have sufficed.
Stats: Madrasas and Veda Paatashala
As per the 2011 census, Hindus constitute the majority having 54.73% of the population of Kerala and Muslims right behind forming 26.56% of the population and tailed by Christians with 18.38% share of the population. And the odds of a substantial change in these figures are very low.
The number of madrassas currently in existence in Kerala is 21,683 and the number of tutors in these madrassas sums up to 2,04,683. But the number of veda paatashaalas under the dewasom board which is under the direct control of the government is a trifling 183.
Now when both the stats are read together, it can be inferred that to teach 26.56% of the population you have 21,683 institutions while 183 institutions are expected to suffice for the rest 54.73%.
For a party that took to the streets when the K Karunakaran Government introduced pension for mosque workers back in 1982, this gesture certainly indicates party’s changing perception of secularism
Kerala Madrasa Teachers’ Welfare Fund Board.
Recently, the Pinarayi government passed a bill approving the formation of Kerala Madrasa Teachers Welfare Fund Board with the intention to provide pension for the those madrassa tutors who have completed 60 years and have contributed towards the scheme for a period not less than 5 years.
This decision, according to the Minister for Minority Welfare K T Jaleel is a measure for poverty-stricken madrasa teachers who never earn for more than Rs. 6,000 per month. He also used the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report findings to justify the move. But what the Left conveniently chose to forget is that the tutors in Veda Paadashaala don’t receive an amount exceeding Rs. 500 per month and not once did the Left raise concern over the issue.
If the intention of the Left was to address the plight of the madrassa tutors then something as simple as setting a minimum wage policy would have sufficed. But this wouldn’t have the necessary impact to fetch votes from the concerned community during the next elections and hence the setting up of a board.
For a party that took to the streets when the K Karunakaran Government introduced pension for mosque workers back in 1982, this gesture certainly indicates party’s changing perception of secularism. The legendary communist leader E M S Namboodiripad who once said that the Muslims were looting the State Exchequer would be quite surprised if he ever was alive today.
P.S (for communists): Secularism; (noun) the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.