Protecting Malayalam language is equal to protecting one’s own body and identity, writer K.P. Ramanunni has said.

He was addressing the students of the University College in Thiruvananthapuram, where he has begun an indefinite hunger strike demanding the government to bring in a comprehensive law to make Malayalam the first language of study and governance.

“While the whole world is beginning to understand the importance of their mother tongues, we have only neglected it. In countries such as China and Japan, education — even research and advanced studies — is imparted in their own regional language. Yet we hold on to an alien language while completely neglecting Malayalam,” said Mr. Ramanunni at the strike organised by Aikyamalayalam Prasthanam here on Monday. The government should bring in a comprehensive law to make Malayalam the first language in government institutions, CBSE schools and courts, poet O.N.V. Kurup said after inaugurating the strike.

Proposal for law

“We are ready to provide a proposal for the law if the government requires it. The government should take immediate steps to make Malayalam compulsory in courts, allow the students to write various entrance examinations in Malayalam,” said Mr. Kurup. Demands including a separate department for Malayalam and a directorate functioning under it were also raised.

C.P. Muhammed, MLA, said that he had spoken to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy about the issue and was given an assurance that the issue would be discussed in the Assembly.

“Mr. Chandy has asked me to convey on his behalf that the government will take immediate steps,” Mr. Muhammed said.

According to him, people have to rise above political differences and work together to promote Malayalam language.

Poet Sugathakumari, who presided over the function, said that the situation had reached such a stage that people had to stage protests and strikes to gain support for one’s own mother tongue.

“This is not for a personal cause, but I am only a body representing the minds of many people in the State, who understands the importance of Malayalam language,” said Mr. Ramanunni.