The demand of seven sub-sects — Devendrakulathan, Kudumban, Pannadi, Kaalaadi, Kadayan, Pallan and Patharia — had not been limited to the name change.

Narendra Modi addressing a crowd in Tamil Nadu
news Politics Sunday, February 14, 2021 - 19:54

During his visit to Tamil Nadu on Sunday, Prime Minister Naresndra Modi announced that the Union government has accepted the demand to bring seven sub-sects of the Devendrakula Vellalar community under one umbrella. Henceforth, instead of being called by their individual caste names, they will all be called Devendrakula Vellalar. The demand had been long pending, and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had announced that he will send a recommendation to the Union government to include the seven sub-sects under Devendrakula Vellalar. Owing to their socio-economic conditions, the community will continue to enjoy the same reservations in education and jobs — that is, they will continue to be on the Scheduled Caste list — according to the CM.

In Chennai, PM Modi said the same will also be formalised by a Bill in the Parliament. "A Bill to this effect will be passed in the upcoming session of Parliament. When they approached me, I told them that Devendra rhymes with my name Narendra,” PM Modi added. According to new reports, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishan Pal Gurjar has tabled the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in order to bring the seven sub-sects under the Devendra Kula Velallars umbrella.

The demand of seven sub-sects — Devendrakulathan, Kudumban, Pannadi, Kaalaadi, Kadayan, Pallan and Patharia — had not been limited to the name change. They had also demanded that their castes be removed from the Scheduled Caste list. Their grievance had been that the members of the castes were not manual scavengers but agrarian workers so putting them on the SC list is not appropriate. They had further asked for 6% reservation for their community, and for them to be included under MBC (Most Backward Caste). 

The Bill, however, makes no mention of this. It is likely to be taken up for consideration in the second half of the ongoing Budget session, as per new reports.

The seven sub-sects collectively constitute around 17.07% of the SC community in Tamil Nadu, as per the 2011 census. An alternate perspective is that removing the castes from the SC list will put the students appearing for competitive examinations at a disadvantage, as they will then have to compete with a larger group. 

Puthiya Tamilagam president K Krishnasamy had strongly taken up the moving of sub-sects in the MBC list and it remains to be seen whether the agitation for the same will continue. 

Several members of the community have put forth their demands several times before both Union and Tamil Nadu governments. In 2015, a group of representatives had met PM Modi to push for their long standing demands. 

In 2016, when Modi was in Madurai to lay the foundation stone for the upcoming All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), he had spoken at a public rally about the issue and said that he is ‘sensitive’ to their cause. Modi had said that he had asked the SC/ST Commission as well as the state government to look into the community’s demands and ‘deliver justice to this community’. 

In December 2020, Tamil Nadu CM announced that he would write to the Union government to accept the demands to group the seven sub sects together. This was based on the Tamil Nadu government accepting the recommendation of the Hansraj Verma Committee that was tasked with studying the issues in 2019.

Pudiya Tamilagam, which has been leading the agitations, has significance presence particularly in southern Tamil nadu and had said if their demands are not met, they will contest the Assembly polls in at least 40 constituencies 

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