Friday, September 4, 2009

KPMS State meet

KPMS State meet RALLYING SUPPORT: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who inaugurated a public meeting organised in connection with the 38th State conference of the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS) in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, waves to the crowd. Others in the picture are (from left) Punnala Sreekumar, secretary, KPMS; Kodikunnil Suresh, MP; Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor; T.V.Babu, president, KPMS; Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy; Food Minister C. Divakaran; A. Sampath, MP; and the former Minister Mons Joseph.

Monday, August 24, 2009


: Congress president and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi has reiterated the UPA government’s resolve to work for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. She was addressing a mammoth meeting of the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS) here on Thursday to mark the centenary of the revolutionary struggles undertaken by the social reformer Ayyankali.
She said many welfare measures had been initiated by the government, but much more needed to be done. A coordination committee had been set up for a dialogue with the industry for reservation in the public sector, she said referring to a demand raised by the KPMS. Pointing out that reservation policy had been at the core of the UPA government’s values, she admitted that there were challenges ahead. A Bill for statutory reservation for Dalits had been taken up in Parliament. About 50,000 people have benefited from a special recruitment drive initiated by the government for the SCs and STs. The number of scholarships offered to Dalits had been increased by the UPA government. A scheme for free residential education for Dalits had been started in 2,000 schools in the country. A scheme for preparing Dalits for competitive examinations had been implemented. A new scheme for self-employment of manual scavengers had also been taken up.
KPMS lauded
She congratulated the KPMS for continuing the glorious legacy of Ayyankali who had initiated historical agitations for the liberation of the downtrodden. It was tragic that in many parts of the country many Dalits were facing discrimination. Atrocities against women were continuing. Ms. Gandhi recalled that Mahatma Gandhi had visited Ayyankali and lauded his efforts for laying stress on education for liberating the oppressed classes.

Mystery of Ayyankali’s land

Long ago in 1922, some 10 miles east of the Fort area, in a place called Vilappil Pakuthi, Sree Moolam Thirunal Maharaja had assigned 5.24 acres to the fiery Pulaya leader Ayyankali, reportedly in recognition of his fearless battle against the unspeakable injustices heaped upon the Dalits.
When Ayyankali visited the land, he found it unbelievably rocky, ridiculously undulating and unfit for any kind of cultivation. The proud man that he was, Ayyankali did not create a fuss. He never returned to claim the land either.
But on Tuesday, thanks to his historian grandson T.K. Aniyan’s persistence, the close-to-a-century-old documents, the government order and other official correspondence, showing the transfer of 5.24 acres to Ayyankali were made public. The documents, looking painstakingly preserved, were produced at the first-ever `public adalat’ organised by the Archives Department here on Tuesday.
“I had been after these documents for the last three years. The Archives Department had been telling me that the file has been missing, that it has been misplaced. But, to their credit, they kept searching for it and finally managed to ferret it out from the lakhs of documents stacked up in the department,’’ Aniyan said.
Archives Director J. Rejikumar expressed his regrets. “We acknowledge that it took time for us to produce the document. But then we had to work hard and long to preserve these documents. They were dangerously brittle at the time we found them,’’ Rejikumar said during the `adalat’.
Aniyan said he required these documents for a book he is writing on Kerala’s renaissance leaders, his grandfather Ayyankali being one of them.
He also said that Ayyankali’s family would try to trace the 5.24 acres of land in question. In the 1922 GO, the survey number of the land given to Ayyankali is given as 363/145. ``But, in between, at least five resurveys have been carried out. So, it will be a herculean task to zero-in on this particular land,’’ archivist Anil Kumar said.
Ayyankali’s family has no idea about the land. “None of our family members have any idea about what has happened to the piece of land, whether it is still lying untended to and full of undergrowth or encroached upon,’’ Aniyan said. The historian plans to get in touch with the village officer to trace the land.
It was the then Land Revenue Commissioner K. Ananthanarayana Aiyer, on May 20, 1922, who had forwarded the recommendation of the Sree Moolam Praja Sabha to grant 5.24 acres of land to Ayyankali, to the then Dewan T. Raghavaiah. (Ayyankali had been nominated to the Sree Moolam Praja Sabha by the Maharaja in 1901.)
Raghavaiah’s official order, with the `Government of Kerala’ and the `Huzur Cutcherry’ seals stamped on top, was issued on June 10, 1922. ``I beg to inform you that his Highness the Maharaja has been pleased to sanction the registry in the name of Aiyan Kali of 5 acres and 24 cents of puduval land, comprised in survey no.363/145 in the Vilappil Pakuthy, Neyyatinkara Taluk,’’ the Dewan’s order states.
The Dewan, it is said, did not have much trouble in convincing the King.
Lore has it that Sree Moolam Thirunal was mightily impressed, even overawed, by Ayyankali’s `Bullock Cart mutiny’ (Villu Vandy Lahala).
Those were the times when the upper caste men used to strut around in bullock carts. Only the Brahmins, and certain Nairs, were allowed to travel in bullock carts. The lower castes were not only forced to walk on public roads but were also asked to keep at least 100 feet away when a bullock cart carrying an upper caste man passed through.
Ayyankali had always loved to thumb his nose at Brahmin hubris. One day, in utter disregard of social mores, the Pulaya leader started moving around the Neyyatinkara area in a bullock cart. Snubbed, the upper castes retaliated.
They blocked him while he was making one of his bullock cart rounds.
Ayyankali jumped out of his cart, took out a spear from under his waist, walked towards the upper caste men perched on a score of bullock carts and ordered them to move out of the way. They promptly obeyed. When told of this story, Sree Moolam Thirunal is said to have found it hard to control his laugh.

Thiruvananthapuram, Monday 24 August 2009: Meira Kumar, Lok Sabha Speaker here on Sunday in KPMS CONFERENCE

Thiruvananthapuram, Monday 24 August 2009: Meira Kumar, Lok Sabha Speaker here on Sunday called for removal of ill effects of casteism in the country by providing proper education to the deprived castes in the society.
Inaugurating the 38th state conference of Kerala Pulayar Mahasabha, an organisation representing a prominent Scheduled Castes in the state here, she said the approach of mixing social reservation with economic reservation should be avoided.
Divisions were still common in the country between castes and sub-castes while in other nations divisions were between the rich and the poor, she said.
All political parties in the country were united in supporting the cause of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, she said.The UPA government had extended all support, including quotas, to the backward sections, she added.


KOCHI: Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, on Thursday, offered support to efforts of the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS) for achieving social justice.
At a meeting organised by the sabha here, in which Congress president Sonia Gandhi was chief guest, Mr. Chandy said Ayyankali’s pre-Independence struggle for education of children of lower classes was historic. The social reformer’s dream had been fulfilled, as many among the lower classes were occupying high positions in society now.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala extended support to the struggles undertaken by the sabha.
Kodikkunnil Suresh, All-India Congress Committee secretary, said Pulayars were no more slaves of anyone. He was proud to have been born in the Pulaya community. Strong efforts were needed to ensure social justice, he said.
Punnala Sreekumar, general secretary of KPMS, said the sabha had no political allegiance. It was trying to form an all-India confederation of Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) people. Legal reforms were required for job reservations for these communities in the private sector.
He called for a second land reforms initiative. While the sabha supported the reservations being offered to Dalit Christians, it opposed the move to include them in the SC quota. He demanded a special recruitment drive.
T.V. Babu, president of the sabha, said the SCs and STs were subjected to gross neglect. Though the Sachar committee had referred to the backwardness of the Muslim community as well as the SCs and STs, only the problems of Muslims got highlighted in political circles. He alleged that successive governments had taken over Adivasi land. “Left or Right, we will support those who help us,” he said.



Ayyankali was born in 1863 in Venganoor, Trivandrum, Travancore. He was one of seven children born to a Pulaya (caste) family. He was illiterate as were all Dalits at that time. In those days Dalits were not allowed to walk along public roads. The Dalit women were not allowed to cover their breasts in public places. Ayyankali organized Dalits and fought against these discriminations. He was in the forefront of movements against casteism. He passed through the public roads of Venganoor on a bullock cart which was not allowed for the Dalits. Enraged by his boldness, the caste Hindus physically attacked him. Ayyankali led the movement and defeated them. Ayyankali demanded right for Dalit children to study in school, which was not granted. He started a school to teach dalit children at Venganoor which was set ablaze by caste Hindus. In response to this, in 1907 he led a strike at Venganoor which lasted for more than a year. He called for boycott of agricultural work raising certain demands. His demands included (a) stoppage of the practice of not giving tea in tea shops to Dalits who were given tea till then in coconut shells; (b) right to education for the Dalit children; (c) resting time for workers during work hours; and (d) replacement of the system of wages in kind by payment of cash. Initially the ( Members of the Nair caste which belongs to kshatriyas in the Varna system of Hinduism]and other caste Hindus did not take it seriously. They tried many means and methods to defeat the workers. However they realized that their families would starve to death if Ayyankali's demands were not met with. They, therefore, were forced to concede the demands of Ayyankali and his supporters. The significance of Ayyankali lies in the fact that he could spearhead a struggle for human rights of the untouchables raising demands which find expressions in various international human rights documents well before their adoption. He pioneered a movement for democratizing public places and asserting the rights of workers even before the formation of any workers organisation in Kerala. The most amazing part of it is that he did all this in spite of his illiteracy. No wonder that Ayyankali was later nominated to the assembly of Travancore namely, Sri Moolam Legislative Assembly, in 1910 by the then rulers in recognition of his leadership ability. In his efforts Ayyankali also received the support of his great contemporary Sree Narayana guru and other social reformers. By 1900 Dalits were given the freedom to walk on the public roads, and by 1914, Dalit children were allowed to join schools. Also, Dalit women were allowed to cover their nakedness in public through his efforts.
He founded the Sadhujana Paripalana Sangham (Association for the Welfare of the Poor) in 1905, which succeeded in obtaining a six-day week for agricultural laborers. Ayyankali died on June 18, 1941.