Idea is to demonstrate their numerical strength during census

With the first socio-economic and caste census of the post-Independence era under way all over Tamil Nadu, barring Chennai, caste-based outfits have started urging their members to shed sub-caste identities and register themselves under one prime caste name to demonstrate their collective identity.

Major caste blocs have told their members not to mention the names of sub-castes while registering the caste name. A few outfits have dispatched batches of volunteers to “educate and supervise” the enumeration so that there was no confusion over which caste they belong to. They have issued advertisements and statements in the local print and electronic media, instructing people under which caste name they should register.

The Vanniyar Sangam, caste face of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), was the first outfit to issue such an appeal in the media asking all Vanniyars, who are concentrated predominantly in the western and northern districts, to register their caste name as Vanniyarkula Kshathriyar.

The Sangam, which came into limelight when it launched an agitation demanding exclusive reservation for Vanniyars in the 1980s, urged them not to register under the names of sub-castes, such as Palli, Padayatchi, Kandar, Muthalipillai, Mooper and Vandaiyar, since it would deprive them of the benefit of reservation.

Sangam senior deputy general secretary and former MLA, A. Karti, says Vanniyars are a mass caste bloc in the State. “Unfortunately, we remain divided into sub-sects. Hence, the forum is highlighting the fact that many sub-sects have not been included under Most Backward Classes (MBC) list.”

He argues that the census findings will corroborate the claims of PMK leader S. Ramadoss that Vanniyars are the largest single caste bloc.

“To retrieve their rights, Nadars should register their caste name as Nadars,” says G. Karikkolraj, general secretary of the Madurai-based Nadar Mahajana Sangam. According to him, Nadars, who migrated to other parts in Tamil Nadu, are identified under various sub-castes. “It will deprive us of all opportunities in future. Hence, we should all register our caste name only as Nadars.”

Those who converted to Christianity should register themselves as Christian Nadars, but another group from the same caste, the Tamil Nadu Kshathriya Nadar Iyakkam, in a statement, has asked people to register either under Nadar or prefixing it with the names of sub castes such as Sanar, Kiramani, Mukkanthar, Kodikalar or Nattathi.

Groups representing the Kongu Velala community have asked people to register their names as Kongu Velala so that the benefits of reservation and employment could be harvested fully in future. ‘BEST' Ramasamy, President of the Kongnadu Munnetra Kazhagam, endorses this view. However the sub-castes of Piramalai Kallars and Maravas in southern and central districts prefer to keep their identities intact since almost all their sub-caste groups are enjoying the benefits of reservation. So do the Dalit castes.

The Tamil Nadu Telugu Brahmana Sabha has urged its people to register their caste under Hindu Telugu Brahmin, while Telungupatti Chetti Mahajana Sangam has told its people to register their caste name as Telungupatti Chetti.