G. Sukumaran Nair says our responsibility is to maintain and build upon what have been built up so far and to chart out new strategies for future.
“Superstitions, obscurantist practices, conspicuous consumption and the outdated matriarchal system had pushed most of the Nair ‘tharadavadus’ into collapse,” said Mannathu Padmanabhan about the condition of the Nair community at the turn of the century, in his autobiography, ‘Ente Jeeviatha Smaranakal’. This had led him to dedicate his life to the community and to take the lead in founding the Nair Service Society.
More than a century later, in the last NSS budget, presented by the present general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair, one of the major projects outlined was an Old Age Home.
It appears the wheel has turned a full circle. The community, which enjoyed social security and held almost total sway over society through the ownership of land, control over the religion, dominance in the domain of knowledge, let alone the authority over the power structure, finds itself stripped of each of these, in the great churning that had happened in the Kerala society. From the relative security of the joint families which had generated their own social injustices, the community has turned into nuclear families, creating their own social problems; care of the aged, for one.
“Our focus now is to confront the second generation challenges faced by the community,” said the NSS general secretary to The Hindu. The Old Age Home is one such instance.
“The impact of the NSS on the community and society as a whole could be fathomed only if we imagine about a Kerala society without the organisation. The loss of the sources of wealth suffered by the community was made up through a campaign of institutions building by Mannathu Padmanabhan and the NSS, Mr. Sukumaran Nair said.
Through the educational institutions, plantations, and the entry into the health dispensation sector, the NSS helped them to regain some of their lost glory even as the thorough social change advocated by the founding father helped them to walk with the times through a thorough internal social change, he pointed out.Self-help groups
“At the time of celebrating the centenary, our responsibility is to maintain and build upon what have been built up so far and to chart out new strategies for future. We have to generate more employment opportunities, empower women and provide the young generation with skills that they need to succeed in the modern living environment,” he said.
The Social Service Department has taken up the micro-financing efforts in a big way through the more than 17,000 self-help groups which have already enrolled 3.25 lakh women.
Currently the cumulative turnover of these micro institutions is Rs.800 crore. “This effort we will have to strengthen in the coming days,” the NSS chief said.
The Human Resource Department founded recently has established Human Resource Centres in 59 taluk unions and HR Cells in over 3,000 Karayogams. More than 700 trained persons are functioning as volunteers.
They would provide the young generation with life skills, educational counselling and pre-marital counselling. The NSS would also start de-addiction centres under the HR department.Religious study centres
A new initiative would be the commencement of Matha Padana Kendras (religious study centres) at the Karayogam level. Curriculum has already been approved and the centres will be finalised soon. The formal inauguration would be held on January 5.
“When we talk about social justice or the positioning of a majority community man in a key position, it is not for cornering illegitimate sops. As a community which had passed through such a drastic social change, it was imperative that they should not be marginalised further. That is why we say we have our own political judgment on issues, but we are not in politics,” he said.
“Critics, even from within the community, ask what the NSS have given to the community. But I think time has come for them to ask themselves what they have given back to the NSS,” Mr. Sukumaran Nair said.