The Nair Service Society (NSS) is an organization created for the upliftment & welfare of the Nair community. It is headquartered at Perunna in the town of Changanassery in Kottayam, Kerala State, India. It was established under the leadership of Mannathu Padmanabhan.
|Mannath Padmanabhan (1878-1970)|
The Nair Service Society was formed on 31 October 1914 as a reaction to perceived communal slights in the princely state of Travancore in south India, which now forms a part of the state of Kerala. The Nair's were the most economically and socially dominant community, as well as the most numerous, in what was traditionally a staunchly Hindu theocracy that rigorously & officially enforced distinctions between castes. Some Nair's had felt provoked by the rise to prominence of the Syrian Christian community, who held a status on a par with Brahmins and whose members were being elected as chairs of various official bodies during a period when the political systems were being modified.
The Nair's believed Travancore to be a Hindu state & the founders of the NSS believed that their own community could only counter the changing socio-political situation if it presented a united front & did away with its internal social subdivisions.
The first caste association of this type to have been formed in the region was the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP), established in 1903 to work for the benefit of the Ezhava caste.
Frederick Bailey has said that associations such as the NSS & SNDP had three primary functions:
- To "reform caste behavior & bring it into line with high-caste standards", which became necessary as a consequence of some caste members obtaining employment in the professions & in government posts & thus coming into contact with high-caste colleagues who treated them as inferior. The associations aimed to blur the distinction between their members and higher castes, refusing to accept a subordinate position in society.
- To improve the welfare, education and employment opportunities for their members in order to further ameliorate the traditional caste differentiation's.
- To engage in politics for the achievement of these aims, which was necessitated because in attempting to promote the circumstances of their own caste they were inevitably setting themselves in competition with members of other castes
Set-up & Strength of NSS :-
Taking the lead given by Mannath Padmanabhan (1878-1970), expatriate Nair's both in other states of India as well as in countries other than India have formed Nair Service Societies in their states and countries of domicile. Examples are:-
- Karnataka Nair Service Society with 30 Karayogams in Bangalore,
- Kanyakumari Nair Service Society with 27 Karayogams,
- NSS Vidharbha which unites Nair's living in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra & is having branches in Nagpur & Chandrapur,
- The Calcutta Nair Service Society in Kolkatta.
These Societies of Non Kerala origin retain the cultural uniqueness of the Nair's at the same time adapting many practices to the times and country of their adoption. Efforts are on to bring together all Nair groups the world over under an umbrella International Federation of Nair Societies.
In 2010 October, the Nair organizations from around the world decided to start a united organization. As a result, the Global Nair Service Society was formed after a meeting attended by thousands in New Delhi.
As of 2010 the NSS comprised:
- Taluk Unions : 58 Nos.
- Karayogams (Village communities) : 5,300 Nos.
- Vanitha Samajams : 4,232 Nos.
- Bala Samajams : 2,466 Nos.
- NSS College of Engineering at Palakkad,
- NSS Hindu College at Changanassery,
- NSS College at Pandalam,
- Mahatma Gandhi College at Thiruvananthapuram,
- Pazhassi Raja NSS College at Mattanur, Kannur,
- The Women's College at Niramankara, Thiruvananthapuram.