EWS quota in Kerala Devaswom Boards: 73 from forward caste groups appointed since 2020

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) government led by Pinarayi Vijayan implemented the quota two years before the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on EWS reservation.
Kerala Devaswom Board Recruitment Building
Kerala Devaswom Board Recruitment Building
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December is the follow-up month at TNM where we go back to headlines of the past for a status update. In this series, we strive to bring focus back to promises made by governments, revisit official investigations that should have been completed by now and exhume issues of public interest that lost steam over time.

A total of 73 people have gained employment in various Devaswom boards in Kerala after the state government extended 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among the Hindu forward caste communities. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) government led by Pinarayi Vijayan implemented the quota two years before the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on EWS.

While the Cabinet decision on the quota for EWS was taken in November 2017, it was finally implemented in January, 2020. To ensure that other communities are not affected the quota was hived off from the 50% reservation in the general category. “It is for the first time in the country that the economically backward among forward castes are being given reservations. The appointment is done through Kerala Devaswom Board Recruitment Board,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had tweeted.

The appointment is done for various posts including that of priests depending on the educational qualification of candidates. “This is for people in the communities that don’t enjoy the benefit of reservation now,” said M Rajagopalan Nair, Chairman, Devaswom Recruitment Board. So far  73 people have got the benefit of reservation,” he added.

There are five Devaswom boards in Kerala - Guruvayur, Travancore, Malabar, Cochin and Koodalmanikyam. When the Devaswom Recruitment Board gets notified on the vacancies available by the respective boards, notifications are issued in two Malayalam dailies and an English daily. Applications can be submitted through the website of the recruitment board within a month after the notification. The applications will be processed and will be going for an examination or interview, depending on the number of applications.

In 2019, the SC/ST Welfare Association had requested the state government to increase the reservation for Scheduled Castes in Devaswom Boards to 19% and for Scheduled Tribes to three percent. The representation was made on the argument that SCs form 19% of the Hindu community in the state while STs are three percent. Since only Hindus are allowed to be employed in Devaswom Boards, proportionate representation should be provided in representation, according to them.

In 2017, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages 1,248 shrines, had recommended the appointment of six Dalits as temple priests. The TDB also appointed a person from a Scheduled Tribe community as priest in 2020, on a part-time basis.

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