Malayalam still not official language of Kerala; bill remains untouched

Prakasan Puthiyetti

2 min read
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Representative image | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as Kerala celebrates its 65th birthday on November 1, 2021, 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.

Kerala State Assembly passed the Malayalam Language (Dissemination and Enrichment) Bill in 2015, unanimously. Sources in the Union government alleged that Kerala never tried to rectify the lapses with the bill or put pressure on the Union government to approve it.

The bills on the topics listed in the concurrent list of the Constitution are sent to the President with the assent of the Governor. It will be returned to the Assembly in case of any confusion. However, this bill remains with the Home Ministry without even reaching the Law Ministry due to the lack of the assent of the Governor, the sources said.

Palode Ravi, former Deputy Speaker and the then head of Committee of Official Languages in the Kerala Legislative Assembly, told Mathrubhumi that certain officers are responsible for sending the bill to the President without the signature of the Governor. He also claimed that the bill did not require the assent of the President originally.

Malayalam or English can be used as the official language of Kerala, since 1969. 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 bye-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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