Malayalam’s long wait for “classical” status is over. On Thursday, the Union Cabinet decided to grant the coveted recognition to the language, spoken by 3.33 crore Malayalis all over the world.

Malayalam now joins Tamil, Kannada and Telugu, all members of the Dravidian linguistic family, as the fourth ‘classical’ language of South India. The decision, it has been clarified by the Ministry of Culture, would be subject to the final decision on a writ petition pending before the Madras High Court.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has described the decision as “a great recognition for Malayalam language and Kerala” and Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan expressed his gratification over the preparatory work of his government to build the State’s case for the recognition. Jnanpith-winning poet O.N.V. Kurup also expressed happiness over Malayalam’s elevation to the long-awaited status and termed it something that nobody could deny.

The decision would result in the State getting Rs.100 crore in assistance from the Centre and support for various projects to promote the language and its literature. Furthermore, the University Grants Commission would back the establishment of Malayalam Chair at various Central universities.

Malayalam now joins Tamil, Kannada and Telugu