Bringing cheer to the nomadic Narikuravan and Kuruvikaran communities and the Malayali Gounder community (who reside in the hills), the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the introduction of two Bills in Parliament to include them under the Scheduled Tribes (ST). Presently, they are classified under the Most Backward Community.
Expressing happiness over the development, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who had written to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2012 and 2013 demanding their inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribe, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decision.
Hailing the decision, Tamil Nadu Tribals Association vice president P. Shanmugam said the demand of the communities had been met after a gap of over 35 years. “As early as in 1980, then Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran had sent a recommendation to the Centre for including them in the ST list.”
Once the Bill is approved by Parliament members of these communities will get more opportunities in the field of education and employment.
There are permanent settlements for Narikuravars in Saidapet, Red Hills and Thirumullaivoyil, but the members of the community continue to lead a nomadic life selling bangles, beads and bauble.
“They make money during the period of pilgrimage to Sabarimala. They find it difficult to get loans from banks,” pointed out Mr Shanmugam.
Status of Malayalis
As far as Malayalis (not Keralites) in Tamil Nadu are concerned, the community’s members from all districts, except in Erode, were granted the ST status. In Erode, they could not make it to the list after Coimbatore was bifurcated to create a new district in 1980. Now, they will find a place in the list as Erode Malayalis.
“Still a few communities are waiting to be included in the ST list and the recommendations in this regard have already been sent,” said former CPI (M) MLA P. Dillibabu, who is also the president of the Tamil Nadu Tribals Association.
For instance, members of the Pulaiyar community, who live in Kodaikanal Hills and Thirumuthy Hills in Tiruvannamalai, were once listed as STs, but in 1975 they were brought under the SC list as their numbers were not adequate. “The Tribal Research Centre made a study of the community and a recommendation to reclassify them as ST was sent when the DMK was in power,” said Mr. Dillibabu.
Similarly, the sub-sects of Kuravas and Kurumans (Kurumba, Kurumbar and Kurumans), who are found substantial numbers in Tiruvannamalai, Vellore, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri are seeking ST status.
Mr. Dillibabu said members of the Lambadi community living in four villages in Harur constituency, once represented by him, are also looking for ST status. At present they are listed under the MBC.
In 1980, M G Ramachandran had written to the Centre seeking ST status