Knowledge Corner

Kerala historically known as Keralam, is an Indian state in South India on the Malabar coast. It was formed on 1 November 1956 following the States Reorganisation Act by combiningMalayalam-speaking regions. Spread over 38,863 km2 (15,005 sq mi), it is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Lakshadweep Sea to the west. With 33,387,677 inhabitants as per the 2011 Census, Kerala is the thirteenth largest state by population and is divided into 14 districts with the capital being Thiruvananthapuram. Malayalam is the most widely spoken language and is also the official language of the state.

The region has been a prominent spice exporter since 3000 BCE. The Chera Dynasty was the first prominent kingdom based in Kerala, though it frequently struggled against attacks by the neighbouring Cholas and Pandyas. In the 15th century, the spice trade attracted Portuguese traders to Kerala, and paved the way for the European colonisation of India. After independence,Travancore and Cochin joined the Republic of India and Travancore-Cochin was given the status of a state in 1949. In 1956, Kerala state was formed by merging Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara.

Kerala has the lowest positive population growth rate in India, 3.44%; highest Human Development Index (HDI), 0.790 in 2011; the highest literacy rate, 93.91% in the 2011 census; the highest life expectancy, 77 years; and the highest sex ratio, 1,084 women per 1000 men. The state has witnessed significant emigration, especially to Arab states of the Persian Gulf during the Gulf Boomof the 1970s and early 1980s, and its economy depends significantly on remittances from a large Malayali expatriate community. Hinduism is practised by more than half of the population, followed by Islam and Christianity. The culture is a synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, developed over millennia, under influences from other parts of India and abroad.

The production of pepper and natural rubber contributes significantly to the total national output. In the agricultural sector, coconut, tea, coffee, cashew and spices are important. The state’s coastline extends for 595 kilometres (370 mi), and around 1.1 million people in the state are dependent on the fishery industry which contributes 3% to the state’s income. The state has thehighest media exposure in India with newspapers publishing in nine languages, mainly English and Malayalam. Kerala is one of the prominent tourist destinations of India, with backwaters, beaches, Ayurvedic tourism and tropical greenery as its major attractions.

History

The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. “Keralam” may stem from the Classical Tamil cherive-alam (“declivity of a hill or a mountain slope”) or chera alam (“Land of the Cheras”). While “Kerala” may represent an imperfect Malayalamportmanteau fusing kera (“coconut palm tree”) and alam (“land” or “location”). “Kerala” can also be derived from the word “Cheral” that refers to the oldest known dynasty of Kerala kings. The word “Cheral” is derived from the Proto-Tamil-Malayalam word for “lake”.

The earliest Sanskrit text to mention Kerala is the Aitareya Aranyaka of the Rigveda.A substantial portion of Kerala may have been under the sea in ancient times. Marine fossils have been found in an area near Changanacherry, thus supporting the hypothesis. Pre-historical archaeological findings include dolmens of the Neolithic era in the Marayur area of the Idukki district. They are locally known as “muniyara”, derived from muni (hermit or sage) and ara (dolmen). Rock engravings in the Edakkal Caves, in Wayanad date back to the Neolithic era around 6000 BCE. Archaeological studies have identified Mesolithic, Neolithic and Megalithic sites in Kerala. The studies point to the development of ancient Kerala society and its culture beginning from the Paleolithic Age, through the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Megalithic Ages. Foreign cultural contacts have assisted this cultural formation; historians suggest a possible relationship with Indus Valley Civilization during the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age.

In the last centuries BCE the coast became important to the Greeks and Romans for its spices, especially black pepper. The Cheras had trading links with China, West Asia, Egypt, Greece, and theRoman Empire. In foreign-trade circles the region was known as Male or Malabar. Muziris, Berkarai, and Nelcynda were among the principal ports at that time. The value of Rome’s annual trade with the region was estimated at around 50,000,000 sesterces; contemporary Sangam literature describes Roman ships coming to Muziris in Kerala, laden with gold to exchange for pepper. One of the earliest western traders to use the monsoon winds to reach Kerala was Eudoxus of Cyzicus, around 118 or 166 BCE, under the patronage of Ptolemy VIII, king of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. Roman establishments in the port cities of the region, such as a temple of Augustus and barracks for garrisoned Roman soldiers, are marked in the Tabula Peutingeriana; the only surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus.

Merchants from West Asia and Southern Europe established coastal posts and settlements in Kerala. The Jewish connection with Kerala started in 573 BCE. Arabs also had trade links with Kerala, starting before the 4th century BCE, as Herodotus (484–413 BCE) noted that goods brought by Arabs from Kerala were sold to the Jews at Eden. They intermarried with local people, resulting in formation of the Muslim Mappila community. In the 4th century, some Christians also migrated from Persia and joined the early Syrian Christian community who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. Mappila was an honorific title that had been assigned to respected visitors from abroad; Jewish, Syrian Christian, and Muslim immigration account for later names of the respective communities: Juda Mappilas, Nasrani Mappilas, and Muslim Mappilas. The earliest Saint Thomas Christian Churches, Cheraman Juma Masjid (629 CE)—the first mosque of India and Paradesi Synagogue (1568 CE)—the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations—were built in Kerala.

The Portuguese were ousted by the Dutch East India Company, who during the conflicts between the Kozhikode and the Kochi, gained control of the trade. The Dutch in turn were weakened by constant battles with Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family, and were defeated at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. An agreement, known as “Treaty of Mavelikkara”, was signed by the Dutch and Travancore in 1753, according to which the Dutch were compelled to detach from all political involvement in the region. Marthanda Varma annexed northern kingdoms through military conquests, resulting in the rise of Travancore to a position of preeminence in Kerala.

In 1766, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore invaded northern Kerala. His son and successor, Tipu Sultan, launched campaigns against the expanding British East India Company, resulting in two of the fourAnglo-Mysore Wars. Tipu ultimately ceded the Malabar District and South Kanara to the company in the 1790s; both were annexed to the Madras Presidency of British India in 1792 . The company forged tributary alliances with Kochi in 1791 and Travancore in 1795. By the end of 18th century, the whole of Kerala fell under the control of the British, either administered directly or undersuzerainty. There were major revolts in Kerala during the independence movement in the 20th century; most notable among them is the 1921 Malabar Rebellion and the social struggles in Travancore. In the Malabar Rebellion, Mappila Muslims of Malabar rioted against Hindu zamindars and the British Raj. Some social struggles against caste inequalities also erupted in the early decades of 20th century, leading to the 1936 Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples in Travancore to all castes.

Geography

The state is wedged between the Lakshadweep Sea and the Western Ghats. Lying between northern latitudes 8°18′ and 12°48′ and eastern longitudes 74°52′ and 77°22′, Kerala experiences the humidequatorial tropic climate. The state has a coast of 590 km (370 mi) and the width of the state varies between 11 and 121 kilometres (7 and 75 mi). Geographically, Kerala can be divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands; rugged and cool mountainous terrain, the central mid-lands; rolling hills, and the western lowlands; coastal plains. Pre-Cambrian and Pleistocenegeological formations compose the bulk of Kerala’s terrain. A catastrophic flood in Kerala in 1341 CE drastically modified its terrain and consequently affected its history; it also created a natural harbour for spice transport. The eastern region of Kerala consists of high mountains, gorges and deep-cut valleys immediately west of the Western Ghats’ rain shadow. 41 of Kerala’s west-flowing rivers, and 3 of its east-flowing ones originate in this region. The Western Ghats form a wall of mountains interrupted only near Palakkad; hence also known Palghat, where the Palakkad Gapbreaks. The Western Ghats rise on average to 1,500 m (4920 ft) above sea level, while the highest peaks reach around 2,500 m (8200 ft). Anamudi, the highest peak in south India, is at an elevation of 2,695 metres (8,842 ft).

Demographics

Kerala is home to 2.76% of India’s population; 859 persons per km2, its land is nearly three times as densely settled as the rest of India, which is at a population density of 370 persons per km2. As of 2011, Thiruvananthapuram is the most populous city in Kerala. In the state, the rate of population growth is India’s lowest, and the decadal growth of 4.9% in 2011 is less than one third of the all-India average of 17.64%. Kerala’s population more than doubled between 1951 and 1991 by adding 15.6 million people to reach 29.1 million residents in 1991; the population stood at 33.3 million by 2011. Kerala’s coastal regions are the most densely settled with population of 2022 persons per km2, 2.5 times the overall population density of the state, 859 persons per km2, leaving the eastern hills and mountains comparatively sparsely populated. Around 31.8 million Keralites are predominantly Malayali. The state’s 321,000 indigenous tribal Adivasis, 1.10% of the population, are concentrated in the east. Malayalam, one of the classical languages in India, is Kerala’s official language.  Tamil, Kannada, Tulu, Hindi, Bengali, Mahl and Adivasi (tribal) languages are also spoken. As of early 2013, there are close to 2.5 million (7.5% of the state population) migrant labourers in Kerala from other parts of India.

Religion

In comparison with the rest of India, Kerala experiences relatively little sectarianism. According to 2011 Census of India figures, 54.73% of Kerala’s residents are Hindus, 26.56% are Muslims, 18.38% are Christians, and the remaining 0.32% follow another or have no religious affiliation. Hindus constitute the majority in all districts except Malappuram, where they are outnumbered by Muslims.

The mythological legends regarding origin of Kerala are Hindu in nature. Kerala produced several saints and movements. Adi Shankara was a religious philosopher who contributed to Hinduism and propagated the philosophy of Advaita. He was instrumental in establishing four mathas at Sringeri, Dwarka, Puri and Jyotirmath. Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri was another religious figure who composedNarayaniyam, a collection of verses in praise of the Hindu God Krishna.

Skill Test

1. Which district of Kerala was declared as the first district in India having Meaningful financial inclusion?

2. Which among the following is known as the queen of Arabian Sea?

3. Nodal agency for Global Ayurveda village project by Kerala government is ?

4. How many times Mahatma Gandhi did visit Kerala?

5. Who served longest as the chief minister of Kerala?

6. In which year was Vasco da Gama appointed as the viceroy of Kerela?

7. In which district of Kerala is the famous Bekal fort located?

8. Analmudi in Kerala is the name of

9. In which of the following year was the Cochin Ship Yard incorporated?

10. In which district of Kerala is the Silent Valley National Park located?

11. Malayam Research Centre is located where?

12. Where did the first All Kerala Congress meet held?

13. What is the total costal length of Kerala?

14. Which is the largest district of Kerala?

15. In which year was the first ever election for Kerala Legislative assembly held?

16. Where is the Kerala forest research institute located?

17. In which year the Presidential rule in Kerala was enforced for the first time?

18. Which is the state bird of Kerala?

19. Chavara deposit in kerala is famous for…….?

20. According to the 2011 census the sex ratio of Kerala is?

21. Name the district of Kerala that has most of the Rivers?

22. Which is the state animal of Kerala?