Narikkoravar’s constitutional struggle for dignity and representation

 

NDMJ-NCDHR

It has been four and a half decades since the Narikoravan (a) Kuruvikaran community has been waging a constitutional struggle for Scheduled Tribe status.

Narikoravan is a nomadic tribe involved in the making of 'rudrasksha malai' and other such long chains, rosary beads which have been historically part of temple economies. Their products find great demand among pilgrims who travel to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Pathanamthita, Kerala. Narikuravars are also itinerant sellers of plastic vessels and other daily utilities. Their population is not more than 30,000 in Tamil Nadu. They have no representation in any decision-making bodies. Presently, they are listed under Most Backward Classes in Tamil Nadu and among Other Backward Classes in the Central Government List.

narikkuravar

 For Narikuravars, it has been almost impossible to transcend their traditional occupation. Several first generation learners go back to their traditional occupation due to lack of facilities and difficulties embedded in claiming and furnishing their MBC/OBC status. The first generation learners from the community who are leading the movement articulate their demand in terms of better and meaningful access to modern facilities and educational infrastructure.

In 1965, the Lokur Committee1 recommended inclusion of Narikoravans (Kuruvikaran) in the list of Scheduled Tribes. The mandate of the 1965 committee was to examine the 'historical and scientific background' of tribes and caste groups to evaluate their social, economic and educational conditions. Clearly, the recommendation of the Committee was not implemented in the case of Narikuravars. The report points out that Narikorvans are a 'very backward tribe' with distinct customs.

Minister Letter

In the 1980s, M.G. Ramachandran, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu proposed to the Union Government to include Narikuravars in the ST list.

On 18th December 2013, the UPA government was forced to issue a bill2 (160/2013) to include the community in the ST list.

Lok Sabha Business

Prior to the issuance of this bill, Narikuravars convinced DMK president Karunanidhi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha to write to the Central government.However, on 21st February 2014 when the bill was floored in the Lok Sabha none of the members supported the Bill. This led to its lapse.

Another letter

The community demanded the passage of the bill in the winter session of the Lok Sabha. Nearly 50 Narikuravar women, children and men, under the banner of Tamil Nadu Narikoravan (A) Kuruvikaran Welfare Federation (TNKWF), travelled to Delhi all the way from Tamil Nadu. For over two weeks (starting from the first week of December 2015) they lived in tiny lodge in Paharganj area of New Delhi to meet MPs and Union Ministers.They also staged a hunger strike on 4th December 2015 at Jantar Mantar. The Union government ensured that the bill would be enacted, without any delay.

 Narikkuravar2

After several rounds of dialogue with members of parliament and ministers; on 9th December 2015, Pon. Radhakrishnan, Minister of State for Road Transports, Highways and Shipping, Government of India, wrote a letter to Jual Oram, Minister of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, strongly recommending Narikuravar's case for ST status. In the letter, the Minister points out that Narikuravar Community is 'nomadic, extremely poor and one of the most vulnerable communities' in Tamil Nadu. More than 87% of this population is non-literate. The minister further states that the number of graduates in the community is hardly '0.02%' of the total population. It is in such a context that they demand ST status with the hope to improve their living conditions and representations.

handbill

However, the winter session of the Parliament failed to pass the Bill. The struggle of the community is still on. There is a need for greater awareness and support from civil society actors to ensure the passage of the Bill in the next session of the Parliament.

Narikkuravar5

~

Notes

[1]. While the definition of 'tribe' remains contested, the broad criterion for determining whether a community is 'tribal or not' as per the Lokur Committee Report are - spatial organization (separate and excluded existence), distinctive culture, 'primitive' traits, shyness of contact with community at large and socio-economic and educational backwardness.

[2]. The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013.

~~~

Other Related Articles

Rejecting Victimhood, Reclaiming Resistance
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
  Joint pamphlet by BAPSA, SIO, YFDA on the occasion of Rohith's Shahadat Din [Distributed for 'Resistance March' against Institutionalized Brahmanism on 16 January 2017 in JNU, New Delhi] The... Read More...
Caste discrimination in daily life: Is it a thing of the past?
Monday, 16 January 2017
  Chanchal Kumar This essay shows with examples that incidents of caste discrimination have only proliferated instead of stopping in any way in modern towns and even in the national capital... Read More...
Hoping in times of disillusion
Saturday, 14 January 2017
  Trevor Jeyaraj All our efforts towards justice seems like a Sisyphean quest. Rolling one pain over another and trying to overcome the present in an effort to heal the scars of the past is... Read More...
The Occasion of Namantar Din!
Saturday, 14 January 2017
  Pradnya Jadhav ~ I have seen youAt the front of the Long MarchThe end of your sari tucked tightly at the waistShouting "Change the name"Taking the blow of the police stick on your upraised... Read More...
Wherever Caste exists in the World, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
  Dr Manisha Bangar NVP BAMCEF In India, and wherever in the world Caste exists, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable. Starting from the happenings in Hyderabad Central University in... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Covering Dalit atrocities in a savarna newsroom
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
  Dhrubo Jyoti I work with a major mainstream media house in the national capital, one that has hundreds of employees but no diversity policy, that ensures almost all journalists are drawn from... Read More...
Wherever Caste exists in the World, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
  Dr Manisha Bangar NVP BAMCEF In India, and wherever in the world Caste exists, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable. Starting from the happenings in Hyderabad Central University in... Read More...
The Death of Merit – Dr. V. Ajay Sree Chandra
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
 Gurinder Azad On 27th August 2007,  V. Ajay Sree Chandra hanged himself in one of the hostel rooms of the famed IISc, hostel room number F002 to be precise, leaving his father and two... Read More...
'What happened to Dalits?'
Monday, 15 August 2016
Dharmaraj Kumar "What has happened to dalits? Why have they become so violent? They are getting reservation through constitution in everything, what else do they want now?" was the concern of one of... Read More...
Bhima’s force shall keep growing…!
Monday, 28 November 2016
  Essay Series on What Babasaheb Ambedkar Means to me Pradnya Jadhav Babasaheb's people have held him high in their hearts without waiting for him to die and appear in any textbooks. The supreme... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण : भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण : भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more