top of page

Writ Petition against Compulsory Malayalam Study

An argument against teaching feudal languages

It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!


State of Kerala & others Respondents


1. The contention that the request for the government to arrange for good quality English education for the children from the financially weaker classes is frivolous and has no merit means that the government is not taking up its objective of being a welfare state seriously. For the weaker sections desperately need governmental intervention to learn good English, which is being cunningly denied to them.

2. The petitioner has not attempted to denigrate Malayalam. He has only spelled out that there are certain features in Malayalam that can design social relationship in a feudal or hierarchical or ‘Janmi-kudiyaan’ relationship manner. For, it is language that connects people. The designs in a language create a social system based on that design. Pointing out a visible feature about a language is not denigration, but only what can be defined as scientific observation. It indicates a sense of intolerance that a person cannot make scientific observation about a language.

3. The contention that there is no merit in the argument that Malayalam does discriminate on the basis of financial acumen, social status, age, professional levels, and connections to bureaucratic higher-up persons, is a lie. The government officials concerned are not allowing themselves to examine the contentions of the petitioner. For, they belong to the higher levels of the feudal language and do not want to give up their advantages in this regard. The respondent has not given any hint that he or any other government official concerned has even cursorily gone through the findings in this regard of the petitioner. So the contention that they are frivolous becomes just a mere prejudiced personal opinion of the respondent. And not a considered view.

4. In English nations, even a slightly hurting or disparaging word is pointed out as hurtful and the speaker asked to refrain. Even such words as nigger etc. have been statutorily banned. However, in Kerala there is no way to limit or control negative and disparaging, pejorative words used by the officialdom, teachers, social seniors etc. The government should necessarily see that such discriminatory words are pointed out as impolite. The government is shutting its eyes on this issue which really bring in despoilment to a great percentage of the people here. It is acting as per the wishes of certain vested interests.

5. It is true that the impugned order has been superseded by later orders of the government. The later orders insist Malayalam-study till the 10th class, instead of 8th. It is seen that the government has come out with an order (dt. 01-09-2001) after the filing of this petition that is of more intensity in its negative aims of imposing the language, and removing the right to opt out. For, all schools that do not come under the Kerala State Education Board are also being brought under its purview.

6. It is seen that in this regard it is aiming for punitive measure to ensure its objectives in the case of schools under the Central Education Boards by withholding NOC, if there is non-compliance by such Schools. In all sense, the State Government is being draconian in its attitude. What is on display is intense parochial linguistic fanaticism.

7. It is seen that there is discrimination with regard to Kerala-born or Kerala-family linked students who are studying abroad. They do not come under the purview of these orders and can continue studying Special English, instead of Malayalam. For, it is sure that if Malayalam is insisted upon, many students will move out of those schools, and go in for other local education boards available there. For, students out there can opt for Cambridge University Certificate Course, join International Baccalaureate Certification or opt for other education boards available in those nations. While students who live here in Kerala would not get this option, if Malayalam is insisted upon. Or else, these international certificates also will have to bear the encumbrance of Malayalam. It is seen that only people who are rich can opt out of the strangle hold of language fanaticism here. The common man who is not rich falls prey to their nefarious schemes.

8. Mr. Suresan A R, Under Secretary to the Govt of Kerala, General Education department is speaking about the glorious culture and traditions of Kerala. It is seen that the culture and traditions of Kerala seen in retrospective now are not the real culture and traditions of Kerala. For, Kerala was born of an amalgamation of at least two totally different areas, the Malabar and the Travancore-Cochin areas. Many of the traditions of the different areas were quite different from each other. Beyond all that Malabar bureaucracy was first a creation of the British, with many feudal ingredients removed by the English in the bureaucratic communication. In Travancore this was different and the bureaucratic culture there was modelled on the feudal monarchical system there. However, current day Kerala bureaucracy follows the Travancore systems and is quite feudal.

9. The original language dialect of Malabar was totally incomprehensible to the southern people. If Malayalam is to be preserved, why was no attempt made to preserve the Malabar dialect? It was also part of the ‘glorious culture and traditions’ of Malabar. Sentences like: Onea oriyane njalu Keechi. Ole theeyanu baratha etc. cannot be understood by 99.9% people who speak the official version of Malayalam.

10. Apart from this, there was a Mappila (Malabar Muslim) Malayalam also in prevalence here. This has also more or less vanished in the face of the onslaught of the so-called official version of Malayalam, which is more or less Kottayam based Malayalam. The so-called passionate attempt to preserve Malayalam is, on close examination, only an attempt to propagate the Kottayam based Malayalam. I do not want to attack that aim. However, it needs to be pointed out that propagation is not to be done by compulsion.

11. The issue of many cultural inputs should be discussed in the context of the antiquity of a highly feudal Janmi-Kudiyan social set that was there in Kerala. If Kerala traditions have to be re-activated again, then this should be given statutory promotion, which could be very negative in its implications.

10. Even Onam that is being celebrated as a glorious Kerala tradition actually decries modern Kerala customs. For it speaks of a time when there was no lies, treachery and corruption, and the society was quite egalitarian. It is obvious that the period alluded to, is not during the Malayalam-speaking-times of Kerala, for no king by name Mahabali is there in recorded historical times. Malayalam started as a language only in the recent past. Moreover, the festival of Onam is actually a reminder that lies, cheating, treachery, and corruption have become the order of the day. The presence of a polite, egalitarian language can help in correcting this social malice.

11. The respondent as well as the government of Kerala seems to be using the words ‘opportunity’ and ‘compulsion’ in the same sense. The mentioned words are antonyms in all senses. To use the word ‘opportunity’ as a synonym of ‘compulsion’ and ‘imposition’ is a crude sort of deceit on the people. It is in much sense an insult to local human intelligence.

12. It is understandable that some persons may love Malayalam, and the feudal social system that it ensues. In this nation of ours, everyone has the right to profess, practice and propagate the religion, language, culture and such things that he or she likes. However, he or she has no right to impose his own likings, religion, language, ideas, social systems etc. on others.

13. Language is based on communication in the society. It goes on changing. So, to enforce a rule that will remove the possibility of change and development of a communication system in a society is to stagnate and to stall progress. It is a dangerous retrograde step.

14. Even though the word Mother Tongue is used to denote a person’s native language, it has no connection to the term ‘maternal’ and ‘mother’, with the concept of’ maternity’ or ‘motherhood’, and with breast milk and breastfeeding. The term Mother Tongue is being currently used to incite emotional connections and passions by connecting the powerful emotional strings connected to Mother to that of language. The respondent is also using this term, without delineating the difference. In this context, the term native language of Kerala would be more appropriate. For, it would remove extraneous emotional tugs from the issues under contention.

15. It is seen that the respondent has not given a clear-cut answer to the Hon’ble High Court’s query as to whether the impugned order has the effect of absolutely eliminating any choice for a child in the subject matter. The respondent has only restated and re-asserted that the child will be given the opportunity to study any other language of his or her choice. The answer is not to the query: whether the student has the right to choose to opt out of the compulsion. It is not about the right to choose to study more languages.

16. The government order is silent on the issue of what would happen if the child in question refuses to learn Malayalam. What is the punitive measure that the government will or can impose on the person of young age who desires not to study Malayalam?

17. I would like to take up the two issues of: a). Right to opt out. b). Right of the person who is the student to refuse to study what he or she does not want to study.


Item No: a). The right to opt-out

The right to opt out of what is understood to have negative features:

1) There is a numerically significant, lower caste community in Malabar, called the Thiyyas. With an exception of a few higher class families, by hereditary vocation, they were the labour and coconut plucking class. Incidentally I do belong to this community. Over the centuries, their dressing standard was like this: The men wore throth (thin white towel) as lower garment. They wore nothing as upper garment. On the head they had a Palathoppi (cap made of aracnut palm leaf).

2) The women wore something like a lungi or kayili as lower garment and did not wear any upper garment, other than a thorth as a shawl. The dressing standards had a link to social suppression. Actually women from this community who tried to opt out of this social code, by wearing a blouse, were levied a penal tax.

3) They were compelled to clothe themselves thus by social as well as statutory compulsion. They could not opt out. Yet, it was only a hereditary compulsion about which no one, even the affected persons, associated any issue of feudalism or social suppression. For, it was a way of life. However, when Malabar came under the British rule, the statutory compulsion got removed. Only social compulsion remained. They could opt out of this dressing code, if they wanted. It was then only the affected persons could get to see that they had been under a social suppression and that this was not the only way to live and dress, allowable.

4) The men started wearing mundu and women slowly changed to sari and blouse. Both mundu and sari are not really the hereditary dresses of the majority people of this place, even though it is taught to students as that.

5) Similarly Malayalam has suppressive and feudal features. Yet the average Malayalam speaking person would not have thought about this, for it was a way of life. No other social relationship is considered possible. Until one gets to learn pristine English.

7). Currently the need to learn Malayalam is only due to social compulsion. A person or child can opt out of it, if he or she desires it. The impugned government order has the effect of making it a statutory compulsion.

6) There is no justification to make it a statutory compulsion. If a person wants to learn Malayalam, then it is his or her right to do so. Like there are women in many places in the world who go around topless. It is their right. Likewise if anyone wants to learn Malayalam, it is their right. But it is not to be imposed on others. Like topless dressing standards should not be enforced on other women.

7) There are people who love Malayalam and the hierarchical social relationship it brings in. They fear that Malayalam would slowly vanish, if is not imposed on others. There is no need for them to fear that. For, if they love Malayalam, they can learn it themselves and also teach their children. Lovers of Malayalam can make the language live. And also see that the ‘cultural nuances and heritage’ embedded in Malayalam can be made to continue in them.

8) In 1947, the number of people who speak Malayalam was less than 50 lakhs. Now, there are around 3.5 crore people Malayalam speakers in Kerala alone. So the contention that Malayalam is disappearing is not correct.

9) Children of the poorer classes bear the brunt of the feudal words in Malayalam. They should be given a helping hand by the government to learn good quality English. Instead of the government pumping in crores of rupees for teaching more Malayalam, that money should be spend on teaching English to the financially lower class children. A study on this matter should be done. That is, on whether the poorer class parents want their children to learn English or not. Organised minorities with vested interests are forcing the poor class children to bear the brunt of their selfish interests. Learning Malayalam in Kerala is a very easy thing. Any man, who lives here, can pick up Malayalam within six months of social interaction here, if he or she desires. A 100 crore rupees spending on this is a useless expense, and should be used for improving English standards of the children. There is enough and more infrastructure here to learn Malayalam, including the print and visual media which promote Malayalam.

10) A few generations of people of West Bengal has suffered heavily due to the removal of English from their primary education. This should not be allowed to happen here.


Item b). The right to refuse to study

1) I am an informal researcher on the affect of codes inside languages. It is true that the academic world has not dealt with this issue in detail. I have not given my findings to the academic world. However, they are available for perusal online.

2) On the basis of my own findings and understandings, I had brought up my children in a complete atmosphere of English. It was based on my rights as an individual, and also based on my understandings.

3) There were a number of complaints against me in this regard by local vested interests as well as local politicians. Numerous enquiries by both the police as well as by other government agencies were conducted against me in this regard.

4) One such complaint is given here as Exhibit P6.

5) The Children’s Welfare Committee’s ruling in this regard is given here as Exhibit P7.

5) If the government does come out with the argument that there will be personality impairment or lessening in the intellectual capacity of an individual if he or she does not do his or her learning and social interaction in Malayalam or in the native language of the place of birth or domicile, then I would request the Hon’ble High Court to summon my senior daughter Varuna aged 15 for apprising her intellectual standards, personality category and social interaction.

All the facts stated above are true and correct.

Dated this the 20th day of September, 2011

bottom of page