The Hindu, Apr 15, 2006
42 per cent Keralites say no to inter-religious marriages
# Only 3.7 per cent favour religion-based politics
# 3.4 per cent for caste-based politics
# Only 5.5 per cent Muslims and 2.1 per cent Christians favour religion-based politics
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: How broadminded are Keralites when it comes to inter-religious marriages? Far less than one would expect for a State that has a long history of progressive movements in politics and society and reform efforts within individual castes and communities, if one goes by the findings of the study on the economic status and social attitudes of Keralites conducted by the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP).
The study says that as much as 41.7 per cent of the population do not approve of inter-religious marriages and this attitude is shared by almost the same number of people belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, the relatively poor, the lower middle class, upper middle class and the rich. Surprisingly, it is those belonging to the BPL and the relatively poor families who feel so more strongly, over 44 per cent of them taking a stand against inter-religious marriages.
Over 40 per cent of those belonging to lower middle class families also share this feeling, but the upper middle class and the rich appear to be a little more relaxed on the issue with only 36 per cent feeling that inter-religious marriages are not for their children. Understandably, 72 per cent Muslims are against inter-religious marriages and, interestingly, among those with the UDF persuasion, almost 50 per cent do not accept inter-religious marriages against 33.6 per cent among the LDF supporters.
According to the study, there is a larger number of persons tolerant about inter-caste marriages, the overall figure being 26.5 per cent. This feeling is shared by almost the same percentage of the BPL, relatively poor and lower middle class. The relative exception is the upper middle class and the rich among whom only 21.9 per cent think it is a bad thing. The study also shows a similar pattern of persons belonging to the lower rung of the economic hierarchy being more concerned about caste and religious identity when it comes to their preference for schools run by their own religion or caste.
But that feeling does not as yet appear to have grown beyond the personal domain. Thus, only 3.4 per cent of those belonging to all the strata favour caste-based politics and only 3.7 per cent favour religion-based politics. Surprise of surprises, only 5.5 per cent Muslims and 2.1 per cent Christians favour religion-based politics, despite there being political parties claiming to represent Muslim and Christian interests.
At the political level, there seems to be impressive unanimity among the people about a host of issues that are external to the State such as demolition of the Babri Masjid and U.S. invasion of Iraq. While 83 per cent of Hindus and 80.1 per cent of Christians disapprove of the invasion of Iraq, it is expectedly higher at 92.6 per cent in the case of Muslims.
Even among Hindus, only 8.1 per cent approve of the demolition of Babri Masjid and hardly 1 per cent of Christians approve of it. Surprisingly, the percentage of persons who approve the demolition of the Masjid is higher, 1.5 per cent.