Resolution and Historical Context
- Unanimous Decision: The Kerala Assembly, led by CM, passed a resolution urging the Centre to rename the state as “Keralam” in both the Constitution and official records.
- Language Basis: The resolution highlights that the Malayalam name of the state is “Keralam,” and states were formed based on language on November 1, 1956. The resolution seeks alignment between the Malayalam name and its representation in official documents.
Procedure for Renaming a State
State Government’s Proposal: The proposal to rename a state originates from the state government. The Union MHA reviews the proposal and seeks No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from various agencies.
Centre’s Approval: Unlike renaming cities, renaming a state requires approval from the Centre’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). A Constitutional amendment is necessary for this change (under Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution).
Parliamentary Approval: If accepted, the proposal is introduced as a Bill in the Parliament. Upon becoming law, the state’s name is officially changed.
Origin of the ‘Kerala’ Name
- ‘Kerala’ and Asoka’s Edict: The earliest recorded mention of ‘Kerala’ is in Emperor Asoka’s Rock Edict II of 257 BC, where the local ruler is referred to as “Keralaputra” (son of Kerala) and “son of Chera” from the Chera dynasty.
- ‘Keralam’ from ‘Cheram’: Scholars speculate that ‘Keralam’ could have derived from ‘Cheram.’ Dr. Herman Gundert, a German scholar, proposed that ‘keram’ is the Canarese (Kannada) form of ‘cheram,’ suggesting that ‘Keralam’ could mean the region between Gokarnam and Kanyakumari, stemming from the root ‘cher’ meaning to join.
Demand for a Unified State
- Aikya Kerala Movement: In the 1920s, the Aikya Kerala movement gained momentum, advocating for a unified state for Malayalam-speaking people. It aimed to integrate Malabar, Kochi, and Travancore into a single territory.
- Cultural Unity: The movement was driven by the shared language, cultural traditions, history, and customs of the Malayalam-speaking population.
Formation of Modern Kerala
- Travancore-Cochin State: In 1949, Travancore and Kochi merged, forming the Travancore-Cochin State.
- State Reorganisation Commission: The State Reorganisation Commission recommended the creation of Kerala as a state for Malayalam-speaking people. The inclusion of Malabar and Kasargod and the exclusion of certain areas were proposed.
- Birth of Kerala: On November 1, 1956, the state of Kerala was officially formed, referred to as “Keralam” in Malayalam and “Kerala” in English.
- The resolution to rename Kerala as “Keralam” reflects the historical and cultural significance attached to the state’s name.
- The process of renaming a state underscores the federal structure of India, where Centre-State collaboration is essential for such significant changes.