HISTORIES: The Axe Or The Accent?

On the 54th birthday of Kerala, Manu Remakant takes us back to the many permutations behind forming the state of Kerala


This is the Orient Illustrated Weekly, July 20, 1947. The article written by P. B. K. Menon gives us the heat of the times, when discussions were on to carve a state out of the chaos called malayala kara.
Map of Kerala; Image Courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org

They had many options.

There was a Cape Comerin which had a culture similar to the rest of ‘Kerala’. There was no doubt to it that the state, when formed had a rightful claim to Nanchinadu. The southern tip of the state should touch the three seas; Menon expressed his opinion clearly in the article.

On the north, Menon sees the state extend as far as the southern tip of Goa. He reasons: “They were all under one union from pre-historic times and they had together grown up within the same cultural influences and traditional bonds.” He elaborates on the common factors that run through the cultural veins of all these places and concludes optimistically that if placed under a single roof “Kerala people can all stand up together as a well-knit political unit and merrily jog on from prosperity to prosperity”.

Thus the proposed state of Kerala spread over the native states of Travancore, and Cochin, and also included British Malabar, Nilgiris, Coorg, Tulunad and North Kanara.

Don’t dismiss it as a pipe dream of men in the past. The scholars, as we see in the article, were having a heated debate over the prospects.

But Potti Sreeramulu, a Gandhian and freedom fighter, had at the same time begun a fast unto death for achieving his dream of a separate state of Andhra for the Telugu-speaking people. He had to carve his dream out from a rigid body called Madras. He died for the cause. His sacrifice became instrumental in the linguistic reorganisation of states.
Nehru relented. The rules of the game changed. A unification into states based on the cultural and historical roots of places was impossible. Now plan B. What about forming states with people who speak the same language? A linguistic committee was formed, with Sardar KM Panikkar as one of the members.
That was the second blow to Kerala.

“Panikkar had fallen out with Travancore as his ambition to become Dewan was thwarted for many reasons. He was now waiting to hit back,” says noted historian, MG Sasibhushan.

Panikkar clipped the wings of Kerala in the south and sent Kanyakumari to Tamil Nadu. “You go up to Kuzhithurai towards the south; you will be groping in the dark for reasons, why it was given to Tamil Nadu,” says Sasibhushan.

Kanyakumari – Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue at sunrise; Image Courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org

The worst hadn’t happened.

On the north, the land which could have extended to Karvar (Gokarnam) was not speaking Malayalam, they found, even though they shared the same culture. “But there, I think,” says Sasibhushan, “Kerala gained much at the expense of Karnataka. I think that the culture and the language change much when we go beyond Payyannur towards the north. They had more claim to places beyond that than us.”

Imagine yourself lying on the shores of Goa, and say you are still in Kerala. And the nostalgia of your homeland also involving the beauty of Nanchinadu, where the three seas eternally wait along with a devi to claim their long lost love.

Today as we celebrate the 54th birthday of our state, only a few of us know the pangs as our land evolved out of a mess. The long history of Malayalakkara is laced with selfish interests of leaders, crude outlook of politicians that emptied the coffers of a beautiful land, and spoiled dreams of people.

But on the other hand there is a beautiful story of Parasurama, carving out Kera-nadu with an axe.

Which one do you celebrate today?

Source: yentha.com
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About Manu Remakant

Manu has written 298 stories in Rum, Road & Ravings. You can read all posts by here.

Still quiet here.sas

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