Kerala Piravi: Here is how the state was formed 61 years ago

kerala | Wednesday, November 1st, 2017
Team Asianet Newsable
Highlights
  • Before Independence, the region was occupied by three provinces named Malabar, Cochin and Travancore, the latter two being erstwhile princely states
  • The desire to form a united Kerala aka Aikya Kerala, consisting of Malayalam speaking territories together was a dream for the people inhabiting the area for ages
  • Set up solely on linguistic principles, the borders of modern Kerala came into existence in 1956 when the Travancore-Cochin state was merged with Malabar

November 1 marks the 61th anniversary of Kerala Piravi aka Kerala formation day as the state, in its current form, was officially formed on the same day in 1956.

Kerala was formed long after Indian gained Independence in 1947. Before that, the region was occupied by three independent provinces named Malabar, Cochin and Travancore, the latter two being erstwhile princely states.

 Photograph taken in 1900 by government photographer Zacharias D'Cruz of a view of the Adoption Durbar, Thiruvananthapuram. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The desire to form a united Kerala aka Aikya Kerala, consisting of Malayalam speaking territories together was a dream for the people inhabiting the area for ages. The earliest resolution demanding an Aikya Kerala was passed at the state people’s conference in Kochi back in 1928.

Several major agitations for political rights and a popular government began in Travancore and Kochi soon after Independence. On 1 July 1949, the provinces of Travancore and Cochin were merged together by the government of India under Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. 

A street in erstwhile Cochin. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

However, the land continued to be politically divided till the mid-1950s, despite geographic similarities and solidarity of language. It is during this period that communism managed to take firm roots in the region, which went on to be recognised by Leftist ideology.

Set up solely on linguistic principles, the borders of modern Kerala came into existence in 1956 when the Travancore-Cochin state was merged with the Malabar district - which then belonged Madras Presidency under the British - and the Kasaragod area of South Canara district. Some parts of southern Travancore, such as Kanyakumari, went to the Madras state as part of the exchange.

The floating markets of erstwhile​ Malabar. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Now, Malabar forms the northern territory with Thalassery, Kannur and Kasaragod with a tiny pocket-handkerchief erstwhile French colony of Mahe (administratively part of Pondicherry). The middle section is formed by the state of Cochin, while the Southern territory comprises Travancore, another erstwhile princely state.

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