Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vaayana Vaaram - Day 4.

                                                 THE GLOVES ARE OFF


1. The Kerala State Library Council(Metamorphosed from the erstwhile Kerala Grandhasala Sangham founded by the late PN Panicker) had come into being in '94 and the late IV Das sir was its head. Its leadership has always had a generous sprinkling of CPM sympathisers. And they, at every opportunity, try to deride PN Panicker. 

Why do they do this?

2. In the early '70s, the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham was on a high with the following activities:-
    (a) It had celebrated its silver jubilee in '70 with a network of over 5,300 libraries.
    (b) PN Panicker had personally conducted a 'padayatra' from the northern tip to the southern tip
          of Kerala and gifted the Malayalees the imaginative slogan, "Vaayichu valaruka, Chinthichu             vivekam neduka"  
    (c) The Kerala Grandhasala Sangham was awarded the prestigious, "Nadezhda Krupskaya
          Award"- named after Lenin's wife - by the UNESCO in recognition of the stupendous and
          spectacular Library Movement!

3. Political parties, across the spectrum, vied with each other to share a platform with PN Panicker and the Sangham became the toast of the state. Meanwhile, as per bylaws set up in its nascent stages, the office bearers were elected at each level - the taluk, the district and the state committees - democratically and PN Panicker was its unanimous General Secretary for 33 years! There used to be a President and two Vice Presidents, who're nominal figureheads, but very much part of a tight knit organisation. 

4. In the mid '70s the late Thayattu Sankaran became President, who was a man of letters as well as a CPM sympathiser. Whenever he went on tours, be it for meetings or for the inspection of the libraries, he became jealous over the unrestrained love and affection the grass roots library workers gave to PN Panicker, so much so, that after one such tour he penned an article about a 'day in the life of a social worker' in the then monthly, the Kalakaumudi. In it he'd made insinuations and personal attacks on PN Panicker. What infuriated him further were the following:-

     (a) There was no dent in PN Panicker's popularity and instead, he went up in their esteem by
           a few notches because his followers knew him well.

     (b)  PN Panicker had shot down his proposal of naming the top floor conference hall of the Kerala
           Grandhasala Sangham, as the 'Desabhimani Study Centre' as he wanted the organisation to be

5. In '78, the government had bowed to the long standing wish of PN Panicker and had taken over the organisation to be headed by a Library Council with PN Panicker as its Secretary and it was then that the new chief minister, AK Antony, had reformulated the body without PN Panicker in it. By the time he'd realised his mistake and apologised, PN Panicker had begun a new organisation named 'KANFED(Kerala Association for Non-Formal Education and Development) which embarked upon making Kerala cent percent literate and it was achieved on 21 Apr '91.

6. After his passing away on 19 Jun '95, through the untiring efforts of his son, N Balagopal, his remembrance day was declared the 'Vaayana Dinam' and the week that followed as the 'Vaayana Vaaram' by the then EK Nayanar's LDF government. This has been going on for the past 21 years and today the Malayalees, the world over have accepted PN Panicker as one of the modernisers of Kerala.

7. The Kerala State Library Council, now packed with CPM men and inimical to PN Panicker, had all along wanted to hijack the Vaayana Vaaram celebrations. Towards this end, yesterday, the government sponsored 'Pakshaacharanam'(Fortnight's Celebration of Reading) was kick started on similar lines of the Vaayana Vaaram. Towards this end the following have been initiated:-

   (a) The governmental support for the conduct of the Vaayana Vaaram were tapered off.  
   (b)  In their 'Fortnight Celebration of Reading', inaugurated by the chief minister at the Cotton Hill
         Girls' High School, Thiruvananthapuram, he'd said that the library movement was first
         conceived by King Swati Thirunal, taken up by the Malabar Library Movement in '34, EMS and
         IV Das, who made it the robust Kerala State Library Council in '94. PN Panicker is given a one
         line mention, that he'd begun the Travancore Library Movement.

My Take.

1. Since when have the comrades started attributing good initiatives in governance to the kings?
2. How have they forgotten the formation of the Travancore Grandhasala Sangham at the Ambalappuzha Conference of 14 Sep '45, organised by PN Panicker and inaugurated by the then Diwan of Travancore, Sir CP Ramaswamy Iyer which went on to become Thiru-Kochi Grandhasala Sangham in '49 and finally, the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham in '56?
3. PN Panicker had all along maintained that his movement was not the first but the ones that had begun before were all short lived and it was only the Travancore Grandhasala Sangham that had grown into the massive organisation of the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham, now known as the Kerala State Library Council.  

And the CPM blames the BJP saying that it distorts history! Isn't that a laugh?


Maman and I'd left home this morning at 9 o'clock. Our first job was to arrange the seating in the smaller hall of the palace where we usually have focused discussions and the crowd is at a manageable 100 or below! Today's was one such exercise and Oommen Chandy, the former chief minister, had called in to bless us as he was away at Kannur, on an assignment.

There were two panel discussions which centred on the theme of 'Digital Libraries Towards the Spread of Knowledge' and 'Digital Libraries as Training Hubs'. 

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