Padma Shri honour for four Keralites

V P Appukutta Poduval, S R D Prasad, Cheruvayal Raman and  C I Issac are the four luminaries

Published: 26th January 2023 06:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th January 2023 06:11 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Four Keralites were among the 91 honoured with the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian honour in India, on the eve of Republic Day on Wednesday. The four are Gandhian V P Appukutta Poduval, Kalarippayattu exponent S R D Prasad, Cheruvayal Raman, and historian C I Issac.

While Poduval won the honour in the field of social work, Prasad was chosen for the award in the sports category. For 99-year-old Poduval, a freedom fighter and Sanskrit scholar, the honour comes at the twilight of his life. A Payyannur native, Poduval was inspired to join the freedom struggle after Gandhi visited his hometown in 1934. Since Independence, Poduval, who is also a proponent of Khadi, has been working for the uplift of weaker sections of society.

Prasad is considered an authority on Otta, a complex weapon made out of tamarind wood. Cheruvayal Raman, who belongs to the Kurichiya tribal community, had been relentless in his efforts to preserve centuries-old traditions in cultivation. The custodian of 35 rice varieties, Raman won the award in the field of agriculture.

Issac, who is a former member of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), won the award in the literature and education category. He is a retired professor of history from CMS College in Kottayam.

hall of fame

A staunch Gandhian and Sanskrit scholar
Payyannur: Freedom fighter and Sanskrit scholar V P Appukutta Poduval is being rightly honoured at the twilight of his life. A staunch Gandhian idealist, Poduval spent the majority of his life spreading Gandhian ideals and Khadi among the people. It was Gandhi’s visit to Payyannur in 1934 that catapulted young Poduval into the chapters of history.

He was arrested during the Quit India movement for speaking in public meetings against the British. He also enjoyed several stints in politics. In 1944, he joined the Kerala branch of Charkha Sangh and later, in 1947, he became the person-in-charge of Khadi Kendra in Payyannur. After the freedom struggle, he became a part of the Bhoodan movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Jayhaprakash Narayan. After Independence, Poduval dedicated his life to the uplift of weaker sections of society. Born on October 9, 1923, Poduval is 99 years old.

Kurichiya tribe elder who is custodian of 35 rice varieties
Cheruvayal Raman of the Kurichiya tribe has been leading a relentless battle to preserve centuries-old traditions of paddy cultivation prevalent among Wayanad tribals. Fondly called Ramettan, the 75-year-old has been instrumental in saving 35 species of rice varieties.

To the many who approach him to buy rice, he poses one condition: that they should cultivate the rich and return with the seeds. While hanging on to this condition has seen his sales dwindle over time, Ramettan is keen to keep up the fight. There was a time when he treasured over 150 varieties of rice. But those days are long gone, and so is the five-acre that he once owned. However, Ramettan is content. His only dismay is that his children are not as keen as him on keeping traditions.

Maestro of martial arts from Kannur
Kozhikode: For S R D Prasad Gurukkal, the Padma honour has come as a national recognition for kalaripayattu, the martial artform for which he has dedicated his life. Gurukkal comes from the family of legendary Chirakkal T Sreedharan Nair (1909-1984), his father and also his guru. Their kalari was situated near Kalarivathukkal temple at Valapattanam in Kannur.  Prasad Gurukkal received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award on October 4, 2016, for his contribution to martial art from the-then President Pranab Mukherjee.

He had prepared the syllabus for kalarippayattu course at Nalanda Dance Research Centre, Mumbai. Prasad Gurukkal also prepared the syllabus and course materials for Kannur University’s diploma course in Kalarippayattu. He is also the recipient of Gurupooja Award of the Kerala State Folklore Academy (2012).

A delayed recognition for this historian
Kottayam: For C I Isaac, his nearly five decades-long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has finally brought honour for him. Isaac, a retired history professor and an Indo-centric historian, has always been an RSS worker since his college days. He joined ABVP in 1973 while studying in NSS Hindu College, Changanassery, and reinforced his rapport with the RSS during the days of Emergency.

“I believe my contributions to Indian society have been counted for the award,” he said.  He is part and parcel of Bharatiya Vichara Kendram for the past 40 years. The 71-year-old historian also played a crucial role in removing 387 Moplah rebels, including Variyan Kunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, from the list of freedom fighters. He, as a member of the three-member panel of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), had recommended the Central government to remove them from the list. He also doesn’t see any conflict between being a Christian and an RSS leader.


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