"We do not belong to any Caste or Religion", say 1.2 Lakh Kerala Students
"We do not belong to any Caste or Religion", say 1.2 Lakh Kerala Students | Credit: The News Minute

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"We do not belong to any Caste or Religion", say 1.2 Lakh Kerala Students

Mar 30, 2018

This is the much-needed change that India needs today – not demarcating anyone on the basis of caste, creed and religion. Erstwhile 1.2 lakh students in Kerala have already taken the preferred step to eliminate the same by not filling it up in the columns in the 2017-18 school admission form. The statistics just amplifies that the new generation abhors the age-old method to fill up data as a symbol of identity. The trend was noticeable for both government and private schools.

The insight was shared by State education minister Prof C Ravindranath on Wednesday during the ongoing Assembly Session to the legislation. He was declaring the numbers while responding to a written query from CPI(M) legislator D K Murali who enquired the number of students from Class 1 to 12 who had obtained admission without filling both the columns. Out of the 3.16 lakh students who applied for Class 1-10 admission for the academic year 2017-18, 1.24 lakh students have left out filling the details. For Class XI, the numbers were 278 and for Class XII it was 239, respectively. However, no students in the vocational higher secondary schools have left it blank. It validates secular credentials he asserted. Every year more and more numbers of children are opting out to fill in the details. The data has been collected from 9000 schools across the state. District-wise and region-wise classification of the date is not yet available.

The education department officials have positively confirmed that this trend is on the rise. If the parents have not preferred to fill both columns about religion or caste they cannot force anyone to do it. In their words, they confirm that the discrimination and division begin only when someone declares the identity in realms of caste and religious identity. It is time to boot out such a practice. The fact itself that more than a lakh of students are rejecting caste and religion as symbols of identity, and have skipped filling it in the forms hints that it is time for a change and the community as a whole are driving it.

Kerala continues to reflect progressive thoughts by booting out deep-rooted social blemishes. The state has time and again demonstrated many such instances towards social equality. A fine example of such kind was Vaikom Satyagraha of the 1920s for the rights of the lower castes to walk on the roads near a Shiva temple against the hostility from local priests and Travancore royalty. Many reformers time and against have stood up to abolish such unyielding practices and cherished social reformer Sri Narayana Guru was one of them. During the 19th century, he wanted to do away with the malicious practice of casteism and consistently upheld the importance of social equality. He led many reformation movements in Kerala laying inroads for Kerala's development and social values, the gains of which can be witnessed even today. In the 20th century, the emergence of Communist Party stressed the importance of formal education and modern medicine, and paved way for social reforms, at the behest of minorities and agrarian norms.

This clearly sends the message across. Politicians like Congress legislator V T Balaram and CPI(M) MP M B Rajesh have also not filled designated columns when enrolling their children in schools. Footballer C K Vineeth filled ‘nil’ in the religion column of his son’s birth certificate to authorize his son to the right to choose his religion if he wants to have one. This stresses the point that theories and practices that many are not interested to continue should be abolished from the periphery.