In a move that would make nearly 40 million Malayalis proud, Malayalam language has been bestowed with classical status by the Central Government.
The Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister on Thursday took the decision in this regard, Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters in Delhi.
With this, the state would get a `100-crore Central fund for development of the language in various fields.
The decision is subject to the outcome of a case in the Madras High Court.
Malayalam is the fifth language to get classical status after Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. Tamil was the first language to receive this status in 2004 and Telugu the last in 2008.
The benefits extended to classical languages include two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence, centres of excellence under the auspices of UGC and chairs in various universities across the country for Malayalam. It was during the tenure of previous LDF Ministry that the move to get the classical status gained momentum. The present UDF Government also followed suit.
Last December, the subcommittee of Kendra Sahitya Academy had recommended to the Ministry of Culture to consider Malayalam as a classical language. However, the demand was rejected in January as many language experts had opined that Malayalam did not have the antiquity of 1,500 years. Following this, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister.
A delegation led by poet O N V Kurup had also presented a detailed report substantiating the heritage of Malayalam.