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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Notes on the social democratic and political basis of Kerala society

The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. Keralam may stem from an imperfect Malayalam portmanteau fusing kera ("coconut tree") and alam ("land" or "location").Kerala may represent the Classical Tamil chera-alam ("declivity of a hill or a mountain slope") or chera alam ("Land of the Cheras").Natives of Kerala, known as Malayalis, refer to their land as Keralam. Kerala has been referenced in puranas as created by Parashurama by throwing his axe into the sea. The Aitareya Aranyaka is the earliest Sanskrit work that specifically mentions Kerala. A 3rd-century-BC rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great references Kerala as Keralaputra.

Kerala has a myth about its origin. Parasuraman, one of the ten forms of the god Vishnu threw an axe across the sea and the coastal lands emerged which later came to be known as Keralam. Keralam, as it is known in the native language of Malayalam means 'the land of coconut". The people of Kerala prefer to call themselves Malayalee, meaning the one who speaks Malayalam. Kerala was known to the world over the centuries through spice trade.

It is located on the south-western region of the country. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act bringing together the areas where Malayalam was the dominant language.Kerala is a narrow strip of land along India's southwest coast, covering 38,863 sq. km and comprising approximately 1 percent of India's total land. The land strip is sandwiched between the Western Ghats in the east -- the hill ranges with spice and tea plantations, wildlife reserves, and small settlements—and the Arabian Sea in the west. It is one of the smallest and most densely populated states in India

The geographical location of being sandwiched between the sea and hill ranges played a major role in shaping Kerala's history ,culture and politics. The cardamom hills in the east isolated Kerala from the rest of the peninsula,while the Arabian Sea in the west opened up Kerala to traders from the Middle East and Europe. Hence, Kerala did not experience some of the invasions and dominations that the rest of India did, but over the centuries accepted and accommodated different cultural and religious communities from overseas. When religious minorities in the Middle East faced religious persecution during the early decade of this era, the rulers of the principalities of the Malabar Coast, now known as Kerala, patronized them and provided them with social status, protection and the most significant of all -- the land. The settlers in turn contributed towards the trade and economy of Kerala. Today Kerala has a long tradition of religious and cultural co-existence. Unfortunately, during recent years this tradition is becoming fragile.

Kerala is one of the most densely populated states in India with 819 people per square kilometers. According to 2001 census Kerala's population is approximately 4 million. Kerala is also one of the few Indian states with the highest literacy rate, but also with a high unemployment rate. As a result Kerala became one of the states which exports immigrant workers all around the globe. There is a saying that when the Americans went to the moon, they were surprised to see a restaurant run by a Malayalee.

The climate in Kerala is moderate, compared to the other parts of India, ranging between 220c to 370c. The coastal area is hot and humid during April-May while cool during December-January. Kerala is unique that it has two monsoon seasons. The South West Monsoon begins towards the end of May or in early June and lasts until September. The North East Monsoon starts in October, and lasts until December. Kerala has almost six months of monsoon and receives up to 200 inches of rain.

From as early as 3000 BC, Kerala had established itself as a major spice trade centre. A 3rd-century-BC rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great attests to a Keralaputra. Around 1 BC the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty, which traded with the Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Tamil Chera dynasty, Ays and the Pandyan Empire were the traditional rulers of Kerala whose patriarchal dynasties ruled until the 14th century. The Cheras collapsed after repeated attacks from the neighboring Chola and Rashtrakuta kingdoms. Feudal Namboothiri Brahmin and Nair city-states subsequently gained control of the region. Contact with Europeans after the arrival of Vasco Da Gama in 1498 gave way to struggles between colonial and native interests. By early 16th century, the Portuguese established their domination. They were defeated by the Dutch in 1663, which in turn were forced out of the land by the British East India Company in 1795, bringing the area under British dominion. After independence, the state of Kerala was created in 1956 from the former state of Travancore-Cochin, the Malabar district of Madras State, and the Kasaragod taluk of Dakshina Kannada.

Kerala finds mention in the annuls of international trade from as early as 3000 BC, having established itself as the major spice trade centre of the world and traded with Sumer. Kerala and Tamil Nadu once shared a common language and culture; this common area was known as Tamilakam.

During the first century BC the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty established by the Dravidian tribe Villavar, whose mother tongue and court language was the ancient Tamil. The capital of Cheras was Vanchi. The southern Kerala was ruled by the Pandyan Kingdom with their capital at Nelcynda. The merchants from China, West Asia and Roman Empire had trade links with Cheras. The Sangam literature from the period has descriptions of the Roman ships coming to Muziris, laden with gold as exchange for pepper. Kerala is represented as the eastern tip of the known world in Tabula Peutingeriana, the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus. The west Asian-semitic Jewish, Christian, and Muslim immigrants established Nasrani Mappila, Juda Mappila and Muslim Mappila communities. The Jews first arrived in Kerala in 573 BC. The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings state that Thomas the Apostle visited Muziris in Kerala in 52 CE to proselytize amongst Kerala's Jewish settlements and convert them to Christianity. However, the year of his arrival is widely disputed due to lack of credible historical evidence. Muslim merchants led by Malik ibn Dinar settled in Kerala by the 8th century CE and introduced Islam.

The Later Chera Kingdom (c. 800–1102), also called the Kulasekhara dynasty, was founded by Kulasekhara Varman who was also a Vaishnavaite saint. Ay kings ruled southern Kerala, but by the 10th century the Ay kingdom declined and became a part of the Chera Kingdom. A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils became linguistically separate during this period. The Kulasekhara dynasty came to an end by twelfth century, weakened due to the invasions by Pandyas and Cholas. In the absence of a strong central power, the state became divided under small principalities governed by Nair Cheftains. The kingdoms of Kochi, Venad, Kolathiri and Kozhikode Samuthiri emerged powerful.

After Vasco Da Gama's arrival in Kappad Kozhikode in 1498, the Portuguese began to gain control of the lucrative pepper trade. On 25 March 1505, Francisco de Almeida was appointed the Viceroy of India with his headquarters at Kochi. The period from 1500 to 1571 saw constant battles by the Saamoothiri and his navarch Kunjali Marakkar against the Portuguese until the latter were defeated and their fort destroyed by the Zamorin's forces at Chaliyam. The fall of Chaliyam fort marked the beginning of the end for the Portuguese in the great game of the East. Elsewhere, the Portuguese had established forts at Kannur, Cochin and Kollam .

Dutch commander De Lannoy surrenders to Marthanda Varma at the Battle of Colachel. Depiction at Padmanabhapuram PalaceThe Dutch East India Company like the Portuguese before them took advantage of the conflicts between Kozhikode and Kochi and ousted the Portuguese to gain control of the trade. However, the Dutch were weakened by constant battles with Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family, the most prominent of them the Battle of Colachel in 1741. The Dutch finally surrendered to the British on Oct 20, 1795 when the latter marched from Calicut as part of the larger Napoleonic Wars between Holland and England in Europe. In 1766, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore invaded northern Kerala. In the late 18th century, Tipu Sultan, Ali’s son and successor, launched campaigns against the expanding British East India Company, resulting in two of the four Anglo-Mysore Wars. He ultimately ceded Malabar District and South Kanara to the Company in the 1790s. The Company forged tributary alliances with Kochi in 1791 and Travancore in 1795. Malabar and South Kanara became part of the Madras Presidency.

A nineteenth-century map of Madras Province in British India. Kerala was formed by merging Malabar, Cochin, Travancore and the South Kanara districtKerala was comparatively peaceful under the British Raj; only sporadic revolts such as the 1946 Punnapra-Vayalar uprising and the 1921 Malabar Rebellion. The Dewan of Travancore Velayudan Thampi Dalava, and Pazhassi Raja, among others, vied for greater autonomy or independence. Many actions, spurred by such leaders as Vaikunda Swami, Sree Narayana Guru and Chattampi Swamikal, instead protested such conditions as untouchability; notable was the 1924 Vaikom Satyagraham. In 1936, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma of Travancore issued the Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples to all castes; Malabar soon did likewise. But Cochin did not do the Temple entry proclamation (1948) until after India's independence. The 1921 Moplah Rebellion involved Mappila Muslims rioting against Hindu zamindars Zamindari system and the British Raj. The Muslim rebel killed numerous Hindus and forcefully converted them.

After India gained its independence in 1947, Travancore and Cochin were merged to form Travancore-Cochin on 1 July 1949. On 1 January 1950 (Republic Day), Travancore-Cochin was recognised as a state. The Madras Presidency was organised to form Madras State in 1947. On 1 November 1956, the state of Kerala was formed by the States Reorganisation Act merging the Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks, which were merged with Tamil Nadu), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara. Elections for the new Kerala Legislative Assembly were held in 1957; this resulted in the formation of a communist-led government headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad. Many Indians consider this the first democratically elected communist governmentin the world; however, both San Marino (in 1948) and Guyana (in 1953) had elected communists to power years earlier. Radical reforms introduced by the E. M. S. Namboodiripad government in favour of farmers and labourers helped change, to a great extent, the iniquitous social order that had prevailed in the land for a long time.



Since independence, Kerala was managed as a democratic socialist welfare economy. Since the 1990s, liberalisation of the mixed economy allowed onerous Licence Raj restrictions against capitalism and foreign direct investment to be lightened, leading to economic expansion and job creation. In fiscal year 2007-2008, nominal gross state domestic product (GSDP) was 162,414.79 crore (US$ 36.87 billion). Recent GSDP growth (9.2% in 2004–2005 and 7.4% in 2003–2004) has been robust compared to historical averages (2.3% annually in the 1980s and between 5.1% and 5.99% in the 1990s). The state clocked 8.93% growth in enterprises from 1998 to 2005 compared with 4.80% nationally. Relatively few such enterprises are major corporations or manufacturers. Kerala's Human Development Index rating is the highest in India. This apparently paradoxical "Kerala phenomenon" or "Kerala model of development" of high human and low economic development results from the strong service sector. Kerala's economy depends on emigrants working in foreign countries (mainly in the Persian Gulf countries such as United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia) and remittances annually contribute more than a fifth of GSDP.

The service sector (including tourism, public administration, banking and finance, transportation, and communications—63.8% of GSDP in 2002–2003) and the agricultural and fishing industries (together 17.2% of GSDP) dominate the economy. Nearly half of Kerala's people are dependent on agriculture alone for income. Some 600 varieties of rice (Kerala's most important staple food and cereal crop) are harvested from 3105.21 km² (a decline from 5883.4 km² in 1990) of paddy fields; 688,859 tonnes are produced per annum. Other key crops include coconut (899,198 ha), tea, coffee (23% of Indian production, or 57,000 tonnes), rubber, cashews, and spices—including pepper, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Around 1.050 million fishermen haul an annual catch of 668,000 tonnes (1999–2000 estimate); 222 fishing villages are strung along the 590 km coast. Another 113 fishing villages dot the hinterland.

Traditional industries manufacturing such items as coir, handlooms, and handicrafts employ around one million people. Around 180,000 small-scale industries employ around 909,859 Keralites; 511 medium and large scale manufacturing firms are located in Kerala. A small mining sector (0.3% of GSDP) involves extraction of ilmenite, kaolin, bauxite, silica, quartz, rutile, zircon, and sillimanite.[ Home gardens and animal husbandry also provide work for hundreds of thousands of people. Other major sectors are tourism, manufacturing, and business process outsourcing. As of March 2002, Kerala's banking sector comprised 3341 local branches; each branch served 10,000 persons, lower than the national average of 16,000; the state has the third-highest bank penetration among Indian states. Unemployment in 2007 was estimated at 9.4%;underemployment, low employability of youths, and a 13.5% female participation rate are chronic issues. Poverty rate figures range from 12.71%to as high as 36%. More than 45,000 residents live in slum conditions. The state treasury has suffered loss of thousands of millions of rupees thanks to the state staging over 100 hartals annually in recent times. A record total of 223 hartals were observed in 2006, resulting in a revenue loss of over 2000 crore.



The National Family Health Survey - 3, conducted in 2007 ranked Kerala as state with the most media exposure in India. Dozens of newspapers are published in Kerala, in nine major languages, but principally Malayalam and English. The most widely circulating Malayalam-language newspapers are Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, Madhyamam, Mangalam,Chandrika, Deepika, Kerala Kaumudi and Deshabhimani. Major Malayalam periodicals include Mathrubhumi, India Today Malayalam, Madhyamam weekly,Grihalakshmi, Veedu, Vanitha, Chithrabhumi, Kanyaka and Bhashaposhiniand overtake automobile magazine.

Doordarshan is the state-owned television broadcaster. Multi system operators provide a mix of Malayalam, English and international channels via cable television. There are 17 Malayalam TV channels like Asianet, Indiavision, Surya TV, Kairali TV, Manorama News, Amrita TV and JaiHind TV broadcast along with the major national channels. All India Radio, the national radio service, reaches much of Kerala via its Thiruvananthapuram,Kochi, Thrissur, Alappuzha , Kozhikode and Kannur Malayalam-language broadcasts. Television programmes such as serials, reality shows and the Internet have become a major source of entertainment and information for the people in Kerala. A Malayalam version of Google News was launched in September 2008. Regardless, Keralites maintain high rates of newspaper and magazine subscriptions. A sizeable "people's science" movement has taken root in the state, and such activities as writers' cooperatives are becoming increasingly common.

BSNL, Reliance Infocomm, Tata Docomo, Vodafone, Aircel, Idea and Airtel compete to provide cell phone services. Broadband internet is available in most of the towns and cities and is provided by different agencies like the state-run Kerala Telecommunications (which is run by BSNL) and by other private companies like Asianet Satellite communications, VSNL. BSNL provides broadband service in most of the cities.

Malayalam films are known for their realistic portrayal of characters and being socially oriented without giving a lot of importance to glitz and glamour. Movies produced in Hindi, Tamil and English (Hollywood) popular among Keralites. Late Malayalam actor Prem Nazir holds the world record for having acted as the protagonist of over 720 movies. Nowadays Malayalam movies are dominated mainly by two actors; Mohanlal and Mammootty who have been in the malayalam movie industry for over 25 years. They have won several National and State awards and are considered among the greatest actors in India



Kerala's culture is derived from both a Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam and southern coastal Karnataka. Later, Kerala's culture was elaborated upon through centuries of contact with neighboring and overseas cultures. Native performing arts include koodiyattom (a 2000 year old Sanskrit theatre tradition, officially recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity), kathakali—from katha ("story") and kali ("performance")—and its offshoot Kerala natanam, Kaliyattam -(North Malabar special), koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), Theyyam, thullal NS padayani. Kathakali and Mohiniattam are widely recognized Indian Classical Dance traditions from Kerala.

Other forms of art are more religious or tribal in nature. These include chavittu nadakom, oppana (originally from Malabar), which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. Margam Kali is one of the ancient round group dance practiced by Syrian Christians of Kerala. However, many of these art forms are largely performed for tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most Keralites. Contemporary art and performance styles including those employing mimicry and parody are more popular.

Kerala's music also has ancient roots. Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music. This was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma's popularisation of the genre in the 19th century. Raga-based renditions known as sopanam accompany kathakali performances. Melam (including the paandi and panchari variants) is a more percussive style of music; it is performed at Kshetram centered festivals using the chenda. Melam ensembles comprise up to 150 musicians, and performances may last up to four hours. Panchavadyam is a different form of percussion ensemble, in which up to 100 artists use five types of percussion instrument. Kerala has various styles of folk and tribal music. The popular music of Kerala is dominated by the filmi music of Indian cinema. Kerala's visual arts range from traditional murals to the works of Raja Ravi Varma, the state's most renowned painter.

Kolla Varsham or Malayalam Era, which is assumed to have been established by King Udaya Marthanda Varma in 825 AD, serves as the official calendar of Kerala. The Malayalam calendar is used to plan agricultural and religious activities. Kerala's cuisine is typically served as a sadhya (feast) on green banana leaves. Such dishes as idli, payasam, pulisherry, puttukadala, or PuttuPayarPappadam, puzhukku, rasam, and sambar are typical. Keralites—both men and women alike—traditionally don flowing and unstitched garments. These include the mundu, a loose piece of cloth wrapped around men's waists. Women typically wear the sari, a long and elaborately wrapped banner of cloth, wearable in various styles. Presently, North Indian dresses such as Salwar kameez are also popular amongst women in Kerala.

Elephants are an integral part of daily life in Kerala. Indian elephants are loved, revered, groomed and given a prestigious place in the state's culture. They are often referred to as the 'sons of the sahya.' The ana (elephant) is the state animal of Kerala and is featured on the emblem of the Government of Kerala.

The predominant language spoken in Kerala is Malayalam. Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar (1736–1799) is considered to be the father of modern Malayalam prose. He is the author of Varthamanapusthakam (1790), the first ever travelogue in an Indian language

Malayalam literature is medieval in origin and includes such figures as the 14th century Niranam poets (Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar), and the 17th century poet Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan whose works mark the dawn of both modern Malayalam language and indigenous Keralite poetry. The "triumvirate of poets" (Kavithrayam), Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon, and Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer, are recognised for moving Keralite poetry away from archaic sophistry and metaphysics, and towards a more lyrical mode.

In the second half of the 20th century, Jnanpith awardees like G. Sankara Kurup, S. K. Pottekkatt, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and M. T. Vasudevan Nair have made valuable contributions to the Malayalam literature. Later, such Keralite writers as O. V. Vijayan, Kamaladas, M. Mukundan, and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, whose 1996 semi-autobiographical bestsellerThe God of Small Things is set in the Kottayam town of Ayemenem, have gained international recognition.

Malayalam cinema carved a niche for itself in the Indian film industry. It has been producing both parallel and mainstream cinema of great acclaim for years. Directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, John Abraham, G. Aravindan have been some of the great names in the Indian parallel cinema. Kerala has also given birth to numerous acclaimed actors such as Bharat Gopy, Prem Nazir, Mammotty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Murali and Oduvil Unnikrishnan.

Kerala, situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic Traveler magazine, Kerala is especially known for its ecotourism initiatives. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the state's tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy. Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination; most tourist circuits focused on North India. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state, laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that followed, Kerala's tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. The tagline Kerala- God's Own Country has been widely used in Kerala's tourism promotions and soon became synonymous with the state. In 2006, Kerala attracted 8.5 million tourist arrivals, an increase of 23.68% over the previous year, making the state one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world.

Kerala is a popular tourist destination famous for its backwaters, Ayurvedic treatments and tropical greenery. Kerala has a higher Human Development Index than all other states in India. The state has a literacy rate of 94.59 percent, the highest in India. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala has witnessed significant migration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries during the Kerala Gulf boom, and is heavily dependent on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community

Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Cherai, Varkala, Kappad, Muzhappilangad and Bekal; the hill stations of Munnar, Nelliampathi, Ponmudi and Wayanad; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary and Eravikulam National Park. The "backwaters" region, which comprises an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that centre on Alleppey, Kollam, Kumarakom, and Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August), also see heavy tourist traffic. Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace, are also visited. Cities such as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are popular centres for their shopping and traditional theatrical performances. During early summer, the Thrissur Pooram is conducted, attracting foreign tourists who are largely drawn by the festival's elephants and celebrants.[168] The main pilgrim tourist spots of Kerala are Sabarimala Temple, Padmanabhaswamy Temple (Thiruvananthapuram), Padanilam Parabrahma Temple(Mavelikkara), Chettikulangara Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple, Guruvayoor Temple, Sarkara Devi Temple, Malayattor Church and Parumala Church.


olitical History

Kerala is a very politically sensitive state, to the extent that you will find heated political discussions even in remote village teashops. Kerala is one of the states in the world, if not the only one where right wing political alliance and the leftists are democratically elected to power. The political sensibility of Kerala is the result of decades of political movements, people is participation and, historically, the nobility who were committed to reforms and changes in society.

Present day Kerala consists of three former principalities, Travencore, Cochin and Malabar. The modern history of politics in the region started in the late 17th century when the principalities had to deal with multiple forces, both foreign and domestic. Over the following centuries, there were military invasions both from overseas by the Portugeese, the Dutch and the English, and from neighboring forces, Hider Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore. There were also domestic people's movements for political changes and against foreign governance.
In 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut, and the King, Samuthiri received his with all the honor a state guest could receive. However, on Dec. 25, 1500, with the arrival of another Portuguese, Pedro Alvares Cabral, the Malabar Coast witnessed a period of bloodshed and violence. The Portuguese wanted to dominate the spice trade and monopolize Christianity. They could not tolerate that there was a Christian community that did not pledge their allegiance to the Pope. The Christians of Kerala claimed that they received their tradition directly from St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus. In retaliation the Portuguese traveled from church to church destroying the traditional history written on palm leaves. By the 17th century, the Dutch came onto the scene and confronted the Portuguese. In 1741 Malayalee King Martanda Varma successfully confronted the invaders while annexing the small principalities around Tranvecore. After the death of King Varma, between 1766 and 1790 the principality was shattered by the military expedition of Hider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
The next phase of Kerala's political history starts with the British East India Company annexing Malabar in the late 18th century and gaining dominance over Cochin and Travencore through treaties. British dominance in Malabar instigated rebellions and guerilla warfare against them. Pazhassi Raja of Malabar led a five-year revolt against British rule which ended with his death in 1805. Velu Thampi led another uprising in Travencore, ending with his suicide in 1809. The Muslims rebelled against the British between 1849 and 1855 and again in 1921. This rebellion is popularly known as the Mopila Rebellion. By the early 19th century the British started ruling the principalities directly through advisors to the Malayalee queens and kings and implementers of new systems and infrastucture.

The move toward democracy and social change started in Kerala towards the end of the 19th century. By the early 20th century, leaders like E.M.Sankaran Namboodiripad, A. K. Gopalan and T. M. Varghese, used Communist ideologies to organize political mass movements both against British rule and the Travancore state. This was also a period when a lot of lower castes rose against caste subjugation and gained their right to enter temples and the women to cover their breasts. The Travencore State opened to include elected representatives in the political administration of the state. There were proposals to bring Travencore, Cochin and Malabar under one political administration. However, the political confrontations continued until 1947 when Travencore became free from the British and the Divan of the King. In 1949, the two separate states of Tranancore and Cochin were united. On November 1, 1956 the boundaries of the newly-united states were revised to include neighboring Malayalam-speaking areas, and the whole territory was officially named Kerala. In the first elections that followed the Communists gained a majority and the first Kerala ministry was sworn in under the leadership of Mr. E.M.Sankaran Namputhiripad (knowsn as EMS), head of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.


he First Legislative Assembly
On 16th March 1957 for the first time in the history of the world, the Communists had come to power through democratic means with the first legislative Assembly of Kerala, with E.M.Sankaran Nampoothiripad as the chief minister would last only until July 1959. The ministry was dismissed because the opposition parties launched an agitation called "Vimochana Samaram" (Liberation Struggle) which led to clashes between the police and mass protesters. The state came under presidential rule. During their brief period in power, the Communist ministry passed two significant bills, the education bill and agrarian reform bill.


he Second Legislative Assembly
In February 1960 the second Assembly was formed with the coalition of the Congress Party and the Praja Socialist Party, with Pattom Thanu Pillai as Chief Minister. For the first time the Muslim League joined the ministry, contributing a speaker to the Assembly. The ministry lasted until September 1964.


he Third Legislative Assembly
On 6th March 1967 E. M. S. Namboothiripad became the chief minister again with the Indian Communist Party (Marxist) getting an absolute majority. In October 1969 EMS resigned and C. Achutha Menon became the Chief Minister. For the first time the Congress Party and the Muslim League supported the ministry along with a few other parties. However, in June 1970 the Chief Minister advised the Governor to dissolve the Assembly, paving the way for new general election.


he Fourth Legislative Assembly
In October 1970 the fourth legislative assembly was formed with Achutha Menon as the Chief Minister. This was the first ministry in the history of Kerala which not only lasted five years, the full term, but also extended its term thrice.


he Fifth Legislative Assembly
K. Karunakaran of the Congress Party, simply known as Congress, became the chief minister March 1977 with Chakkiri Ahmmed Kutty of the Muslim League as the Assembly speaker. Later Karunakaran had to resign following a court verdict connecting Congress with the torture and murder of a student, named Rajan, under police custody. The incident is widely known in Kerala as 'Rajan Case'. On 27th April A.K. Antony formed a coalition ministry but he had to resign in October 1978. P.K. Vasudevan Nair of the Communist Party of India formed another coalition but it lasted only until October 1979. In November the Governor dissolved the assembly and scheduled a general election.


he Sixth Legislative Assembly

In January 1980 seven political parties formed a coalition, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) under the leadership of the Communist Party of India-Marxist and won the election. The LDF formed the executive ministry with E.K. Nayanar as the Chief Minister. After twenty two months, the ministry lost its support and Nayanar resigned. A new ministry with K. Karunakaran of the Congress Party as the chief minister came to power in December 1981 and lasted until March 1982.


he Seventh Legislative Assembly
In May 1982, an election was held and a political coalition, the United Democratic Front (UDF), under the leadership of Congress got the majority. Again K.Karunakaran became the chief minister.


he Eighth Legislative Assembly
In the election conducted in March 1987 the Left Democratic Front again came to power and E.K. Nayanar again became Chief Minister. During this ministry in April 1991 Kerala was declared as a totally literate state.


he Ninth Legislative Assembly
In 1991 the ruling LDF decided to dissolve the assembly and conduct fresh elections, expecting to come to power again. But contrary to their expectations, the U D F won the election and K. Karunakaran again became the chief minister in June 1991. In 1995 A.K. Antony became the Chief Minister, after resigning from the Central Cabinet and K. Karunakaran resigned from the Legislative Assembly and got elected to the Rajyasabha, the Cental Cabinet.


he Tenth Legislative Assembly

In 1996 E.K. Nayanar of the LDF yet again came to power, taking advantage of the rift in Congress and the allegations of corruptions against the former ministry. During this period the Kerala Government introduced the People's Plan and campaigned for the planning and implementation of development programs at the grass root level. The People's Plan became a model for development and attracted interest worldwide.


he Eleventh Legislative Assembly
In June of 2001, in spite of the People Plan Programs, the LDF was voted out and the UDF came to power, with A K Antony again as Chief Minister. who leads a Rightist Government. Only two of the former ministers were re-elected to the Legislative Assembly this time.

Kerala is unique in many ways. It is the state in India with the highest rate of literacy, where the quality of health care available is competent with many European countries and, more significantly it is one of the few states in India where people's movements and empowering initiatives at the grassroots level are part of day to day life. There will not be a day in Kerala without a public demonstration of some kind. The demonstrations could be for the right of the workers and peasants, against multi-national corporations, or lately for the land rights of indigenous people.

"Cast Me Out If You Will." Antherjanam, Lalithambika. New York: The Feminist Press, 1997.

Prepared by Biju P R,Assistant Professor in Political Science,Govt Brennen College…….

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