Social Scientist. v 4, no. 48 (July 1976) p. 62.


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COMMUNICATION

Economic Backwardness of Harijans in Kerala

P SIVANANDAN'S article "Economic Backwardness of Harijans in Kerala" in Social Scientist 46 brings out the connection between caste on the one hand and economic status.or class., on the other. While appreciating the work done by the author, it is necessary to point out certain factual inaccuracies in the article. I desire to do this and also to draw certain conclusions regarding the likely development of the caste., the economy and the polity in Kerala.

The author has divided the major castes and communities in the state into three categories: the economically and socially privileged; the socially handicapped; and the economically and socially handicapped. Christians other than Harijan converts are included, along with the Brahmins., Ambalavasis, Rajas and Nairs, in the first category. The reason for the economically and socially privileged status of this section of Christians is, according to the author, that they were "favoured and protected since the colonial period.592

This assessment of the Christians other than the Harijan converts is wrong from the point of view of history and the analysis of economic data.

The fact is that among Christians who are not Harijan converts there are Syrians, the Latinites, members of South India United Church (SIUC) and the Anglo-Indians. Many of them including the Latin Christians, the Anglo-Indians and the SIUC have been put in the category of ^backward9 communities in the matter of appointments in government service and admission to educational institutions.

Only the Syrian Christians (belonging to all denominations, such as Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant)are put in the category of ^forward9 communities.

This official categorization is of long standing and was confirmed by the Nettoor Damodaran Commission whose report gives plenty of data showing where each caste and community stands.

The reason given by the author for the "economically and



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