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What does Narendran Commission say?

By C. Gouridasan Nair

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 18. Everybody is speaking about the recommendations of the Narendran Commission appointed to study and report on the adequacy or otherwise of representation for Backward Classes in the State public services, but few seem to know (or remember) what the Commission had actually said.

The two-part report was the product of work spread over one-and-a-half years and involving collection and analysis of data from different sources, the most important of these being the Kerala Public Service Commission and Secretaries in charge of 299 Government departments. The Commission, headed by K.K. Narendran, former judge of the Kerala High Court, and as its members T.M. Savan Kutty, former chairman, Kerala Public Service Commission, and K. V. Rabindran Nair, former Chief Secretary, was appointed in February 2000. The Commission submitted its report in September, 2001.

After examining the representation that backward communities have secured in four avenues of employment, namely, Government departments, public sector undertakings, universities and autonomous institutions, the Commission had concluded that the representation of most of the backward communities in the State service and related areas of employment was `clearly inadequate' though the extent of inadequacy varied from community to community.

The Commission's analysis of the relevant data revealed that while Ezhavas have secured better representation in more than one category by securing posts in the merit quota over and above the reservation quota, Muslims have not fared so well. In the Commission's perception, the main reason for this is educational backwardness. "Better educational standards of Ezhavas have given them a good leverage in competing for Government jobs at least in the recruitment of lower categories. If the Muslim community and its leaders take more interest in the matter of education and make a concerted effort, this community can also reach a similar level of educational advancement in the not distant future. The other communities among the Backward Classes can also improve their presence in the public services by paying more attention for the education of their children," the Commission had said.

The Commission had disagreed with the argument put across to it by some forward communities that backward communities of the State have, by and large, overcome whatever backwardness they had in social and educational development as was evident from their increasing representation in the power structure. In the Commission's view, Backward Classes are not yet in a position to reach adequacy of representation without continuance of reservation. "If some of them have been able to get jobs in excess of their reservation quota, it only means that the policy of reservation is helping them to move towards adequacy of representation in public services," the Commission had said.

The Commission had also rejected the backward communities' contention that the forward communities, which constitute 35 per cent of the population, hold 65 per cent of the jobs in public services. The Commission had found that out of the 3,25,554 employees in all the Government departments and judiciary, 1,57,008 (as on August 1, 2001) belonged to the Backward Classes. This, according to the Commission, meant that the Backward Classes taken together had got 48.23 per cent of the total number of posts against 38.73 per cent of the forward communities. The total reservation quota for Backward Classes is 40 per cent.

Drawing special attention to this `special phenomenon', the Commission had underscored the fact that the situation was not typical of all the 68 backward communities listed as such in the State. The Commission was of the view that `there should have been a more fair distribution of posts within this group, without any net addition to the number and percentage of posts held by the group in total. "As long as the present condition prevails, some of these sixty eight communities are likely to continue with poor representation while others will have adequate (some of them, more than adequate) representation," the Commission had noted.

(To be concluded)

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