Social Development and Demographic Changes in South India: Focus on Kerala
The central theme of this book deals with the contemporary perspectives on diversity in development cum moderization and their differential influence on contrasting fertility behaviour in the advanced regions of southern Kerala as against the less progressive northern area.
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Before the Brahmin penetration into Kerala in 700 AD, Pulayas were leading an independent life in the jungles like other hill tribes. Although there was no caste oppression, Pulayas did not venture to come to other areas where people belonging to different social groups were living. Probably there were group wars, there were also internecine wars, like other parts of India. When Brahmins brought the country under their control, Pulayas and other hill tribes were brought under oppressive caste system. And yet, Pulayas had their own folk dance and ballads. Margam kali pattu of early Christians, Mappila pattukal of early Muslims, Pulaya songs and the dance-songs of other hill tribes show the independent spirit of these people, defying caste rules of Nambudiri Brahmins. Brahmin dominance led to the division of Kerala society into various castes and sub-castes. Christians, Muslims and other tribes such as Pulayas were made agricultural labourers. Christians, Muslims and pulayas were forced to do compulsory labour oozhiyam. Christian missionaries liberated Syrian Christians from compulsory oozhiyam service. Muslims rose into peasant revolts called 'Mappilla revolts.' Pulayas were also brought under the influence of Christian missionaries. LMS and CMS missionaries constructed schools for Pulayas and civilized them. Untouchable Ezhavas who became Syrian Christians of CMS churches and Nadars who became Christians of LMS churches were not prepared to accommodate Pulaya Christians in their churches. But CMS and LMS missionaries took a firm stand in giving equal rights along with Syrian Christians and Nadar Christians. Social freedom gained by the Pulayas because of missionary efforts was fully exploited by Pulaya leader Ayyankali who fought for their social and political rights. Brahmins and Nairs were afraid to oppose the Pulayas because of their numerical strength, backed by British adminstration of Travancore and Kochi states. .