Dwarfs urge for quota benefits

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - Can dwarfs be classified as physically handicapped to allow them the benefits of reservation? While the dwarf community in Kerala is demanding job quota benefits, the state government has passed the buck to the central government to decide whether they merit reservation.

State Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi Tuesday told the assembly that it is for the central government to classify them in the reservation category.

Sreemathi was replying to a submission raised by nominated legislator Simon Britto Rodrigues who demanded that dwarfs be classified as physically handicapped to enable them get job reservation.

“This has to be decided by the centre. According to medical experts, this community has no medical problems and their short height occurs due to genes,” said Sreemathi.

Her reply caused deep disappointment among representatives of the dwarf community who were watching the proceedings from the visitors gallery in the assembly.

However, there was a glimmer of hope when Sreemathi said she would discuss with Finance Minister Thomas Isaac if the community can be provided some sort of financial assistance.

Expressing concern for the dwarfs was film director Vinayan, who in 2005 made a Malayalam film, “Albudha Dweep” (wonder island) with 296 dwarfs. He said “the plight of the community is so sad that the centre should amend laws to provide them job reservation”.

“I advertised in three south Indian states inviting applications from dwarfs to act in my film. I interviewed 1,000 of them and could select only 296 because the others had health problems. I do not subscribe to the medical view that this community has no problem except for short height. The laws have to be framed or amended so as to benefit this community which is really suffering in all aspects,” said Vinayan.

‘Guinness Pakru’, president of the Small Men’s Association, said their association, formed after the filming of “Albudha Dweep”, now has around 350 members, including 50 women.

“Barring a few lucky ones like me, the condition of a large majority of our people is pathetic. The Left government in Kerala had in 2006, just after assuming office, said it would do something for us. And now they say it is for the centre to do so. This is not fair. We want help and solace from the government,” said Guinness Pakru, who in 2008 got listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the shortest hero (”Albudha Dweep”) in an adult role in world cinema.

–Indo Asian News Service

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