Tribal youths denied top job at ‘En Ooru’ in Kerala

Authorities trying to regularise contract staffers from non-tribal communities, say tribal youths
The ‘En Ooru’ tribal hamlet
The ‘En Ooru’ tribal hamlet

KALPETTA: The popular ‘En Ooru’ tribal heritage village on 25 acres on the slope of a hillock at Pookode in Wayanad was opened with the intention to enhance the livelihood of tribal people by providing them with a platform to showcase their diverse traditional knowledge and heritage. With few days into the operation, the centre became one of the main destinations in the hill district by attracting an average of 3,000 people per day.

But, the stunning destination is not helping tribal youths who pursued higher education to improve their livelihood. The reason is that all important posts in the project are ‘reserved’ for non-tribal communities.   
Since the launch of the centre, the CEO post is being held by a person from the non-tribal community. This is at a time when four tribal youths have successfully completed their MBA by fighting all odds and waiting for a job.

The educated tribal youths are up in arms against the authority’s apathetic attitude towards them.  Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha leader and an MBA graduate Manikandan Paniya said that the main intention of the ‘En Ooru’ heritage village project is to provide job opportunities to the tribal people. The project was designed in such a way that tribal people can manage and operate it.

“But, the authorities are not ready to give us an opportunity in the administerial post. There are four MBA graduates, including me belonging to the tribal community in Wayanad, and we are eligible for CEO post of En Ooru heritage village. But, we are denied opportunities,” he said.

“As per a resolution passed by En Ooru Charitable Society, which is running the En Ooru heritage village, all posts in the heritage village are reserved for tribal candidates. Non-tribal people can be appointed only if there are no eligible candidates from the ST community. But, the authorities appointed a non-tribal candidate to the post on a contract basis last year, Now, they are trying to regularise the service of the contract staffer. The authorities should back out from the decision and be ready to appoint an eligible tribal candidate for the post,” he added.

Manikandan further said that the present CEO’s contract period expired on April 14. But, he is still continuing in the post violating all norms. Many tribal people have already quit En Ooru due to the anti-tribal approach of the CEO, he added.

Adi Shakthi Summer School, a forum of educated tribal youths, has also come up with complaints against the ‘En Ooru’ Charitable Society over the appointments. The forum has demanded the district collector and the state government intervene in the issue.

Meanwhile, Mananthavady sub-collector R Sreelakshmi, who is the president of Ooru Charitable Society, said the present CEO was first appointed during the preliminary stage of the project in 2011. Later, his contract was renewed considering his performance.

"Though the centre was opened for providing employment opportunities exclusively for tribal people, it is not mandatory to appoint tribal candidates to administrative posts. However, most of the posts including office staff, security staff, electrician and driver were filled by tribal people,” she said.

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