Is Malayalam receiving the kind of attention it should in Kerala’s higher education system? Poet and recipient of the University of Kerala’s honorary D.Litt degree O.N.V. Kurup, for one, does not seem to think so.

In his acceptance speech at the special convocation ceremony convened on December 5 where the D.Litt was conferred on him, ONV pointed out, yet again, that Malayalam’s status was not what it should have been in its own birth place.

Some time ago in another programme organised by the university, ONV had asked — rhetorically, it seemed —whether any university would consider introducing a paper, an examination, to test a graduate’s or post graduate’s level of working knowledge of Malayalam. Coming as it did from a great teacher, nobody found such a thought out of place.

However, the idea did not trigger any sort of discussion or debate in academic circles in a way the poet perhaps hoped it would. Even the State Higher Education Council, which is engaged in an exercise to revamp undergraduate education, has not yet taken on board such a concept or yet initiated a discussion on the subject. Would the D.Litt conferred on the poet prove a catalyst for this? Only time will tell.

G. Mahadevan

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