outset let me affirm that I am a Nair myself and I am eminently qualified to
write on the topic. Categorisation of Nairs in the conventional four tier
caste system of Hinduism has always been a problem.
erstwhile warriors, some would categorise them as Kshatriyas. But Nairs have
never been rulers themselves and that would make them eligible only for the
Sudra title, according to some others. Kshatriyas or Sudras, Nair community
has always been at the vanguard of social change in Kerala (and India) from
time immemorial. Any analysis of their contribution to progress of the land
would sound boringly boastful and it has been attempted by many.
let us take another interesting trend that is shaping up within the
community in recent times and see where it will lead us to. The issue
concerns the dowry disease that has afflicted community youngsters. Many of
the young married men are ‘dowrydasans’ and many more are waiting to jump
into the bandwagon.
One of our many unwanted customs contracted from others is the dowry
system. This social evil is so contagious that there is hardly any community
in Kerala that is left uninfected. The patrilineal Christian community have
a logical reason to have something like dowry system to send off a girl
member with her assets from a family. But it should never have been a model
for the matrilineal Nairs and for Muslims with well prescribed ‘mohr’
custom. Now that every one is in the same boat, Nairs are perhaps the most
affected with both the dowry burden and the traditional matrilineal
stronghold of girls over their ancestral properties.
Except for the looseness in marriage bonds, the matrilineal family
lineage of Nairs had always remained an all time ideal social institution
highlighting the importance of females in a human society. Instead of
reforming the system, the community has abandoned the principle in theory
but not from their minds and practice. The concept of ladies staying at home
and husbands joining the wife’s family on marriage was logical for a warrior
community. And it would have remained the best model in modern times too if
the male brought along with him all his wealth. But not anymore when boys
are bought into the girls’ family by paying dowry and all other facilities.
If Kerala Model for social development was a trendsetter in the past, the
Gulf Model among NRKs (Non-Resident Keralites) is setting the trend within
Kerala society nowadays. There is a good number of Malayalee Nairs in the
Gulf and their contribution in all walks of life is second to none. As one
of the so-called forward castes in the Kerala landscape, Nairs have been
forced to seek their fortune in distant lands for a long time. The exodus
has only accelerated after Indian Independence.
What will be the end result of this undesirable tendency is of concern to
all of us. NRKs’ are setting the trend everywhere and what happens among
them is attempted within Kerala sooner or later. The rich among natives take
the clue first and it is attempted by one and all then onwards. If this
system of providing for everything becomes established within the community,
the end results can be devastating. We will soon end up with a set of young
Nairs who cannot survive in a competitive world. Becoming ‘dowrydasan’ will
be the dream of youngsters in the community and once trapped their laziness
will only increase. To be born into a so-called forward community is itself
a curse in India now. One can imagine the trouble if all these ‘dowrydasans’
multiply and make up a community that is good only for procreation.