An article titled ‘Kerala: God’s own country or Godless country’, in Organiser, the weekly magazine of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had snowballed into a huge controversy in Kerala few weeks ago. The article authored by M Surendranath, a lawyer and law lecturer from Mumbai, had drawn criticism from politicians and common people.
The article while dissing Congress and communist regimes, also called Kerala the place with the most radical thinking, divorces and live-in-relationships.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has released a statement asking the RSS magazine to withdraw article on Kerala.
Excerpts from his statement:
As a Malayalee who is rightly proud of the land of my nativity, and as Chief Minister of Kerala, I must defend the honour of my State and my fellow Malayalees. Let me invite your kind attention to the way your magazine has so callously insulted the people of Kerala and Malayalees elsewhere. Mr Surendra Nath's malicious article foretells one thing for sure. The fangs, spewing the venom of communalism in different parts of India are now at the doorsteps of Kerala too. As you may well be aware, recently, the country witnessed heinous acts, prompting the President of India to issue stern warnings, four times, evidently, to the divisive forces. It is no wonder that the Prime Minister of India these days is confronted by protests and harsh media scrutiny during his visits abroad. It is high time for him to be aware of the embers of anarchy that could set fire in the country.
Let me please enlighten the Editorial Team of Organizer that, for more than a century, Kerala has been keeping close to its heart the teachings of its noble son and great social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, who exhorted the people to shun the way of divisiveness based on caste and creed. Tolerance is an integral part of the Malayalee psyche. This is what prompted Cheraman Perumal, the 7 CE Hindu ruler based at Kodungallur, to give away his land for building a mosque, the first in India. And at a time when Jews were facing persecution in different parts of the world, it was King Bhaskara Ravi Varma, who gave perpetual asylum Achandratharam (so long as the moon and the stars exist) to the 8th century Jewish merchant Joseph Rabban. Aryabhatta, the mathematician, is credited with finding the shape of the earth, some thousand years before Copernicus. Sankaracharya of Kaaladi, the great philosopher-saint of the country, bestowed Keralites with wisdom and logical thinking. All of these illustrious sons of Kerala have guided Keralites through the centuries.
Do remember that Kerala is home to Panakkad Sayyid Mohammedali Shihab Thangal of IUML, who gave a stern warning so that not a single leaf did move in Kerala in reaction to the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992. I would also like to emphasize that unlike in some other parts of the country, communal tensions rarely go out of hand in Kerala. This certainly is an outcome of the innate qualities of its people who are willing to forget and forgive, and move forward by upholding the high ideals of peace and brotherhood.
Its high life expectancy, high literacy rate, sex ratio in favour of women (which is a sure sign of the State’s aversion to selective abortion), lowest maternal and infant mortality and so on, which have become benchmarks for rest of the country. Programmes like Kudumbasree are spearheading women's self-reliance in the State.
Mr Surendra Nath and Organizer have ridiculed Kerala in the name of violence in Kannur and on the basis of the alarming level of alcohol consumption. With regard to Kannur, portrayed as the ‘Killing Field’ all I have to say is that this theatre of political murders is kept active by the RSS and BJP volunteers and the CPM followers there. However, Kannur nowadays is experiencing comparative calm following the UDF government’s stern action against the perpetrators of crime and violence there as elsewhere. And, regarding high alcohol consumption, the UDF government made a historic move that has resulted in the closure of 730 bars, and the process of shutting down 10% of the outlets of the Beverages Corporation, annually, over a period of 10 years with a view to implementing total prohibition in the State.
Kerala stands by democratic principles when it takes decision on topics like the eating of beef. As granted by the Constitution of India, the freedom to choose food is there for the people in Kerala as well as people in the rest of the country. But what we see nowadays is that certain forces are flaring up communal and divisive feelings in the name of such centuries old food habits. The BJP even tried this ploy, but in vain, during the recently held elections in Bihar.
Mr Surendra Nath's article that appeared in Organizer has deeply wounded the feelings of Malayalees all over the world. The editorial leadership of the magazine and the RSS ought to tender unconditional apology to the people of Kerala and Malayalees elsewhere. And they must declare that they do withdraw the article without any further delay.