KIRTADS doing nothing much on research front

Activists say its work confines to conducting cultural fetes

The Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS) has not been taking up research work to benefit its target groups, activists have alleged.

The Kozhikode-based institute claims to work towards the “development of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by engaging in research and undertaking studies to identify the problems faced by these marginalised sections of society and by suggesting recommendations for their uplift.” Santhosh Kumar, social activist who works with the Keraleeyam magazine, however, alleged that to a query under the Right to Information Act in 2017, the institution informed him that it did not have any research data on the targeted groups.

“Their work is confined to conducting cultural festivals at certain places, producing short films and documentaries, and taking up caste determination inquiries at the behest of government departments,” he claimed.

Decade ago

The last time KIRTADS was involved in a major research project was over a decade ago when it took up the baseline survey among five particularly vulnerable groups in the State, claim social activists. The Union government allocated ₹148 crore for the development of those marginalised sections following the survey.

The agency, however, reportedly had no role in its utilisation and it was left to the Department of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to do the job. The institute did not conduct any study to find out if there were any lapses in the utilisation of the Central funds.

Lacks autonomy

A senior official in the institution told The Hindu that KIRTADS “does not have autonomy and cannot take up research studies on its own.” It had been reduced to “another administrative wing” of its parent department and taking up works it had been assigned.

Narayanan M. Sankaran, an academic who works among the tribespeople in Wayanad district, pointed out that the methodology adopted by the researchers there was problematic too. Tribespeople were being identified with certain custom, rituals, and dressing style at a time when social changes were leading to alterations in their lifestyle. Last year, the KIRTADS officials were also accused of presenting themselves as the organisers and financial sponsors of a traditional festival of the Kuruma community, near Pulppally, in Wayanad district though their job was just to document it for research purpose.

A section of residents objected to this, leading to a divide between the people there.

Source: Read Full Article