Among a slew of decisions taken by the Kerala government on Wednesday was the politically-significant move to grant 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward among Hindu forward castes in recruitment to all the five Devaswom boards and the Kerala Davaswom Recruitment Boards in the state. The Devaswom boards manage over 3000 Hindu temples, schools and colleges in Kerala and wield massive influence.
In a tweet, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “It is for the first time in the country that the economically backward among forward castes are being given reservations.”
The chief minister also announced increasing reservation for people from SC/ST communities, Ezhavas and other backward communities. While reservation for Ezhava community was increased from 14 per cent to 17 per cent, for the SC/ST community, it was hiked from 10 per cent to 12 per cent. Additionally, reservation for Hindu OBC communities excluding Ezhavas will be hiked from 3 per cent to 6 per cent. Rules of the recruitment board will be amended to enforce these changes, the chief minister said.
The decision to grant reservation to economically weaker among forward communities could be seen as the ruling LDF government wooing them weeks after the Travancore Devaswom (Temple) Recruitment Board in a landmark decision shortlisted 36 non-Brahmins, including six Dalits, as priests. Though non-Brahmin priests are present in the state, most of them are attached to those operated by family trusts.
Large sections of the forward and backward Hindu communities form a significant part of the CPM vote-bank in the state.
The state cabinet also announced that recruitment to the state Waqf Board will be left to the Public Service Commission (PSC). An ordinance to this effect will be brought soon, the chief minister said.
Some of the other cabinet decisions were raising the retirement age of doctors in Health Department from 56 to 60 and 60 to 62 for doctors in the Department of Medical Education, building a bronze statue of Sree Narayana Guru in Thiruvananthapuram to mark the centenary of Guru’s proclamation of ‘Nammukku Jathiyilla’ (we have no caste) and a week-long celebration in November-December to mark the 125th anniversary of the visit of Swami Vivekananda to Kerala.