Malayalam bill awaits nod from Union Education Ministry

Prakasan Puthiyedi

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Thiruvananthapuram: Malayalam Language (Dissemination and Enrichment) Bill, passed by the Kerala State Assembly in 2015, awaits the nod of the School Education Division of the Union Ministry of Education.

The then Governor P Sathasivam had sent the bill to the President as he was apprehensive if the rights of the language minorities (Kannada and Tamil speaking people) in the state were compromised by it. He also pondered if the topic of the bill falls under the Concurrent List (subjects where both states and Union can pass laws). Kerala claimed that the subject is on the State list.

The Union Home Ministry sought state's responses in 2019, sources said. However, filing the reply got delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On November 1, Mathrubhumi had reported that the bill proposing Malayalam as the official language of the state has been remaining idle with the Union Home Ministry for the last six years.

According to the bill passed in 1969, Malayalam or English can be used as the official language of Kerala. However, Malayalam is not compulsory in official communication. The Oommen Chandy government brought in the bill after accepting all the amendments made by the then Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

The bill

The bill starts with stating “it is expedient to provide for the adoption of Malayalam as the official language and to be used for all official purposes.”

It also aims to create a Malayalam Language Development Department and to ensure Malayalam be used as the language in the bills passed by the Kerala Assembly, in all Ordinances promulgated by the Governor of Kerala, in all orders, rules, regulations or by-laws issued by the Government. It is mandatory to translate important Central Acts and State Acts and amendments.

The bill wants to spread the language in the area of education and research. Non-Malayali students “shall be provided an opportunity to learn Malayalam in addition to their mother tongue,” says the bill. However, they are exempted from taking examinations in Malayalam Language in lX, X and Higher Secondary level.

The bill reserves seats in professional courses for students who did their schooling in Malayalam medium. Kerala had passed another law to make teaching Malayalam compulsory in schools in 2017. The government has ordered from time to time to make official communication in Malayalam. ‘Bharanabhasha Malayalam’ is a project for this purpose.

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