Various literary figures, cultural icons and political leaders have extended support to the protest, across the state.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan to MT Vasudevan Nair Kerala icons demand Malayalam for PSC exams
news Language Saturday, September 14, 2019 - 18:47

On Saturday, the 17th day of an ongoing protest, children from different parts of the state have come to join the venue in Thiruvananthapuram, and read out poems in Malayalam. It is then that Dhanya, a teacher, spoke about a child she saw fast for the protest. “I saw the child fast when I passed by a few days ago.. Today I am here to speak for the cause, and read out a poem,” Dhanya said. 

A protest for the sake of language. 

Across the state, people are holding protests with one demand: to also include questions in Malayalam for all the PSC exams. The fast held by the Aikya Malayala Prasthanam in front of the Kerala Public Service Commission in Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram was part of the larger protest.

“Even on Onam day, protestors across the state fasted. The message was that there is no Onam without Malayalam,” says Ramesh of the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad, who are also part of the protest.

For now, the Kerala PSC exam that selects candidates for civil service jobs in the state, allows the answers to be written in Malayalam. However, the questions for several exams are in English. "This puts those who come from the Malayalam medium at a disadvantage, because there is limited time to answer the questions. All we are asking is to give the questions in Malayalam and English,” says Ramesh.

Various literary figures, cultural icons and political leaders have extended support to the protest, across the state. MT Vasudevan Nair and Karassery took part in the protest in Kozhikode, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Sugathakumari, VN Murali and Madhupal in Thiruvananthapuram, Balachandran Chullikad in Ernakulam, Kureepuzha in Kollam, M Mukundan in Thalassery, and so on. The Purogamana Kala Sahitya Sangham is also part of it.

When the Aikya Malayala Prasthanam raised the issue at the Kerala PSC office, the explanation they got is that translating the questions into Malayalam would risk leakage of the questions. “The people who are preparing the questions are Malayalis, right? They could do it in Malayalam too,” Ramesh adds.

V Madhusoodanan Nair, poet, who was at the protest venue on Saturday, says, “All cultural streams have joined the protest. So have people from different social strata. It means people have understood the importance of language. Earlier, Malayalis had been made to feel inferior with an idea fed to parents and children that Malayalam is a slave language. But now they are becoming free of that feeling. While we love world culture, we can take what we want, and discard what we don’t. The employees hired by the PSC would be serving people who speak Malayalam. And Malayalam has been made the administrative language of the state. It is the people’s right to use Malayalam.”

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has called a meeting with the Kerala PSC Chairman on Monday. The protestors hope that a resolution will be reached.

Also read: How the Kerala govt plans to tackle coastal erosion and why experts disapprove

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