Letter to the Editor
Dear Shri Prafulla Ketkar,
In and on behalf of Kerala and Malayalees all over the world, I would like to point out to you, Editorial Board of Organiser, that you are ignorant of the history, culture and traditions of my home State. 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 insulted the people of Kerala and Malayalees elsewhere. It was done by Mr M Surendra Nath in the article “Kerala: God’s Own Country or Godless Country.” This article appeared in your Deepawali special issue. It is dark irony that the Festival of Lights special should carry such a dismal piece of writing, specially designed to malign Malayalees in and outside Kerala.
Mr Surendra Nath’s malicious article foretells one thing for sure. The venom of communalism in different parts of Bharat is now at the doorsteps of Kerala too. As you may well be aware, recently, the country witnessed heinous acts, prompting the President of Bharat to issue stern warnings, four times, evidently, to the divisive forces. It is no wonder that the Prime Minister of Bharat 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 Organiser 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 Bharat. 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 who is credited with finding the shape of the earth some thousand years before Copernicus, Sankaracharya of Kaaladi who bestowed Keralites with wisdom and logical thinking are the illustrious sons of Kerala who have guided Keralites through the centuries.
Do remember that Kerala is home to Panakkad Sayyid Mohammedali Shihab Thangal of Indian Union Muslim League (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 emphasise 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 uphold the ideals of peace and brotherhood.
Mr Surendra Nath has tried to malign the impressive strides of progress that Kerala has achieved by making wild accusations about some social issues, which are not only seen in Kerala, but also in other parts of Bharat and outside. 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. And we have an enviable track record in law and order. Kerala is a much sought after destination for domestic and international tourists, making it truly ‘God’s Own Country’. In spite of all these achievements, and more, Organiser has tried to vitiate the social harmony and cultural diversity of Kerala.
Mr Surendra Nath and Organiser 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 per cent 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 Bharat, 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.
Time and again the people of Kerala have expressed through the ballot, that communal and divisive forces have no place in the State. This again is an outcome of the independent and free thinking ways of Keralites, who have been brought up on strong foundations of rich traditions, value education, and healthy socio-cultural practices. And they love to tread the path illuminated by stalwarts who led Kerala at various stages of its history. And we will not deviate from this right path.
Nitya Chaitanya Yati, noted philosopher and exponent of ‘Advaita Vedanta’ once said: “Kerala is a Garden of God.” My appeal to Organiser is that it should stay away from attempts to sow terminator seeds in this beautiful ‘Garden of God’. Let this home of dynamic and progressive community continue to be a torchbearer to the country as it now is.
Mr Surendra Nath’s article that appeared in Organiser 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.
That would be some measure of redress indeed.
Respected Shri Oommen Chandy Ji
First of all thanks a lot for taking cognisance of an opinion article published in Organiser (weekly) dated November 15 & 22, 2015, titled “Kerala: God’s Own Country or Godless Country”. I am not here to defend the article or opinion submitted by a fellow Malayalee about Kerala. In fact, I express my sincere regrets if the feelings of an esteemed Malayalee like you are hurt. But I certainly have issues to raise about the politicking that has been doing rounds around this article which virtually forced the office of Honourable Chief Minister to write to the Editor of Organiser on behalf of the state.