Kerala Assembly’s demand to rename state as Keralam, why the name change?

The Kerala Assembly unanimously passed the resolution for the second time in the past year to change the name of the state to 'Keralam' in the Constitution

On Monday, June 24th, 2024, the Kerala Assembly unanimously passed the resolution for the second time in the past year to change the name of the state to ‘Keralam’ in the Constitution, citing ‘Keralam’s’ deep cultural and linguistic significance

The resolution, moved by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan urged the Central to formally recognize this name in all languages and stated: “The name of our state in Malayalam is Keralam… However, the name of our state in the First Schedule of the Constitution has been written as Kerala. This Assembly is unanimously requesting the Union Government to take immediate steps under Article 3 of the Constitution to change the name of the state to Keralam.”

Kerala Assembly
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Kerala is the English word for the Malyali Keralam. Last August 9th, a resolution along these lines was approved. The Chief Minister stated that because of some technological problems, it needed to be reintroduced. The prior resolution called for changes to the Constitution’s First Schedule, which is a list of different states.

Additionally, it intended to request a change to the Eighth Schedule, which is a list of official languages. However, upon closer inspection, it became clear that the latter demand was not included in the text. As a result, the resolution was changed and presented to the Assembly again, Vijayan said.

The History of ‘Kerala’

There are several theories regarding its etymological roots. The earliest mention of the word can be found in Emperor Ashoka’s Rock Edict II, dated to 257 BCE. The edict reads: “Everywhere in the dominions of King Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods, as well as those of his frontier sovereigns, such as the Chodas [Cholas], Pandyas, Satiyaputra, Ketalaputra [Keralaputra]…” (translated by epigraphist D R Bhandarkar).

According to the book Culture and Media: Ecocritical Explorations by P.S. Sachindev, Keralaputra, which means literally “son of Kerala” in Sanskrit, refers to the dynasty of the Cheras, one of the three main kingdoms of southern India, and says that the word changed from ‘Chera-alam’ – land of the Cheras- to Kera-alam.

The coastal region between Gokarna (in Karnataka) and Kanyakumari (in Tamil Nadu, southern India) is referred to as “cheram” in Canarese (or Kannada), according to German linguist Dr. Herman Gundert. The word’s etymology may have come from the Old Tamil verb “cher,” which meant to unite. The book further hypothesizes that the phrase could refer to “kera-alam,” the country of coconuts, where “kera” is a term for coconuts.

The 1920s Aikya Kerala movement demanded that Malayalam speakers be given their state based on language. Eventually, a state for Malayalam speakers was established in 1956. Keralam was the state’s original name in its native tongue. It was changed to Kerala in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.

Current Resolution

The goal of the 1920s was to unite the princely republics of Travancore and Cochin with the Malabar area of Madras Presidency to create a single state speaking Malayalam. Following independence, the two princely republics speaking Malayalam were combined to form the state of Travancore-Cochin on July 1, 1949.

Following the State Reorganisation Commission’s proposal to form states based on linguistic basis, the state of Kerala was eventually established. Syed Fazl Ali’s Commission suggested that the districts of Malabar and Kasargod be included in the state of Malayalam-speaking people. Additionally, it suggested that the four Southern Travancore taluks—Tovala, Agastheeswaram, Kalkulam, and Vilayankode—as well as a few areas of Shenkottai be excluded (all these taluks being part of Tamil Nadu). The state of Kerala came into being on November 1, 1956.

The proposal to rename the company has long been supported. Along with several other lawmakers, the then-chief minister, VS Achuthandan, brought up the matter in 2010, but a resolution was unable to be enacted. A name change is a complicated process that needs the consent of the Parliament. The Orissa(Alteration of Name) Bill, of 2010 caused Orissa to alter its name to Odisha in 2011. In 2011 and 2016, West Bengal also attempted to rename the state “Paschim Banga,” but the Center rejected their requests in 2020.

Along with members of the opposition, the ruling party has endorsed renaming the state “Keralam,” as it is known in Malayalam. According to ANI, Indian Union Muslim League MP, ET Muhammed Basheer, said, “Instead of Kerala, it is better to have Keralam. That is the proper terminology.”

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