Thiruvananthapuram: Cultural and political leaders in Kerala Friday hailed the Centre's decision to confer classical status to the Malayalam language, for which the State had been campaigning for a long time.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said according such a status was a major recognition for the language and the State at the national level. "The new found status will provide momentum to the growth of the language," he said.
Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said the previous LDF government had taken the initiative to get classical status to Malayalam. "Now the government should take steps to make Malayalam the first language in all schools," he said.
Well-known poet Sugathakumari said the honour would create a new mind set among people and government should take steps to make Malayalam compulsory in all schools.
Jnanpith laureate O N V Kurup expressed happiness and said Malayalam occupies a prominent place among the early languages of the country after Sanskrit and Pali.
Malayalam, spoken by over 30 million people, is the only South Indian language that was till now denied classical language status which Tamil, Telugu and Kannada enjoy.
A panel headed by Kurup, which prepared a report, had stated that Malayalam has all the criteria of a classical language like antiquity, centuries of oral and written literary tradition and epigraphical and grammatical systems.
It also said one of the earliest references to Kerala and its language could be found in the edicts of Emperor Ashoka.
There are other concrete evidences like the inscriptions of the rock cave at Edakkapl in Wayanad district which corroborated the antiquity of Malayalam.
The language had over the centuries developed with scholars enriching its written form by rendering all major literary, scientific and political classics into it, it said.
For instance, Kautilya's "Arthasastra", considered a masterpiece on state craft, had been translated into Malayalam as early as 10th century AD and the Hindu philosophic classic Bhagavad Geeta in 14th century, the report had pointed out.
The Assembly had passed a resolution asking the Centre to confer classical status to Malayalam. It had also submitted a memorandum to Centre in this regard.
The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, yesterday approved classifying Malayalam as a 'Classical Language'.