Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the week-long Keraleeyam festival on November 1, 2023. The festival is aimed at showcasing the richness of Kerala’s ethnic traditions, the complexity of its evolution as a modern state, and its promising future as a knowledge-based economy.
- The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) boycotted the event, accusing the government of profligacy when the “treasury was bone-dry and people reeled under a debilitating cost of living crisis.”
- In his politically themed inaugural address, Mr. Vijayan confronted fraught issues such as feudal and casteist hegemony that informed Kerala’s past and how renaissance movements and agrarian revolutions helped the state replace the oppressive and colonialist social structure with a modern, egalitarian, secular, and welfare-oriented society.
- He saluted the first communist government under former Chief Minister E.M.S. Namboodiripad for initiating land reforms that conferred ownership rights of farm and homestead land to tenants and agriculture workers, while setting a ceiling on the extent of land an individual could own.
- He said the stress on free education till the Class 10, decentralization of power, total literacy, public health, and an expanded social welfare net catapulted Kerala to the top of the physical quality of life index chart and spurred its development.
- He reminisced about how Kerala’s secular unity helped it survive catastrophic floods and also resisted forces that repeatedly sought to divide the state into religious lines to slyly prospect for political gains.
- Mr. Vijayan said Kerala’s resilient public health system did not buckle under pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic and later helped defeat other viral outbreaks, including Nipah.
- Mr. Vijayan said the social mechanics of Kerala’s storied political transformation from a moribund medieval society to a modern secular state in a short span would inform its future as a robust knowledge economy.
- He compared the first edition of Keraleeyam in 2023 to the Edinburgh International Festival, which sought to heal the trauma and economic bleakness caused by the Second World War by harnessing the power of art and enterprise as a salve for social emancipation, progress, and lasting peace.
- Keraleeyam festival: The Keraleeyam festival is a week-long festival held in Kerala to showcase the state’s rich cultural heritage, its evolution as a modern state, and its promising future as a knowledge-based economy.
- Renaissance movements in Kerala: Kerala has a long history of renaissance movements that have helped to shape the state’s modern identity. These movements have challenged feudal and casteist hegemony, promoted social justice, and advocated for education, healthcare, and other social welfare measures.
- Agrarian reforms in Kerala: Kerala was one of the first states in India to implement land reforms. These reforms have helped to empower tenants and agriculture workers and have played a key role in the state’s development.
- Social welfare measures in Kerala: Kerala has a number of social welfare measures in place, including free education till the Class 10, universal healthcare, and an expanded social safety net. These measures have helped to improve the quality of life of the people of Kerala.
- Kerala’s secular unity: Kerala is known for its secular unity. This has helped the state to weather challenges such as communal violence and natural disasters.
- Kerala’s public health system: Kerala has a resilient public health system that has helped the state to combat diseases such as COVID-19 and Nipah.
- Knowledge economy: A knowledge economy is an economy that is based on the production and distribution of knowledge. Kerala is well-positioned to be a knowledge economy, given its high levels of education and its strong focus on research and development.
The Keraleeyam festival is a significant event that showcases the unique and rich cultural heritage of Kerala. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on the state’s journey from a moribund medieval society to a modern secular state in a short span. The festival is expected to attract visitors from all over the world and promote Kerala as a tourist destination.
The Keraleeyam festival is a celebration of Kerala’s rich cultural heritage, its evolution as a modern state, and its promising future as a knowledge-based economy. The festival is a significant event that is expected to attract visitors from all over the world and promote Kerala as a tourist destination.