Kovind unveils statue of PN Panicker who popularised literacy and libraries in Kerala

President Ram Nath Kovind speaking after unveiling the statue of late P.N. Panicker-- the pioneer of learning, literacy and library movements in Kerala, in Thiruvananthapuram, on December 24, 2021. 

Kovind unveils statue of PN Panicker who popularised literacy and libraries in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, December 24, 2021

President Ram Nath Kovind paid wholesome tributes to the late P N Panicker for his outstanding efforts in removing illiteracy through the library movement in Kerala and said he spread a very simple and most potent message “Vayichu Valaruka” (read and grow).

Addressing a gathering after the unveiling of the statue of Panicker at Poojappura in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, the President said he made libraries and literacy a popular cultural movement.

“It is a unique feature of Kerala that in every village, even in the remotest ones, there is a library and people feel an emotional connect with the library in their village or town just as they feel with the local temple or church or mosque or school. Libraries created by Panicker’s movement later became nerve centres of all social and cultural activities of which the literacy movement of Kerala is an impressive example.

“The credit for libraries having a central place in the culture of Kerala goes to Panicker who connected common people to libraries. He noted that the Granthashala Sangham started by him with about 50 small libraries in 1945 grew into a large network of thousands of libraries. Through this large network of libraries, the common people of Kerala could get to know the thoughts and ideas of Sree Narayana Guru, Ayyankali, VT Bhattathiripad and other great reformers. The cosmopolitan outlook of an average person from Kerala can be traced to the library and literacy movement," he said.

The President said Kerala displays India at its cultural and harmonious best. It has attracted people from all parts of the world, absorbed different cultures and religions while maintaining its distinct features. The people of Kerala have earned respect and goodwill in the rest of India and different parts of the world.

The enterprising members of the Indian diaspora from Kerala have not only been sending large amounts of remittances home but also kept the prestige of India very high in the lands they have adopted as their workplaces. The service sector professionals from Kerala, especially the nurses and doctors are highly respected and relied upon by people everywhere. Recently, when the Covid pandemic affected the entire world, nurses and doctors from Kerala were among the most visible Covid-warriors in India, the Middle East and so many other regions on the globe. The people of Kerala enhance the pride of India, he added.

Pointing to the fact that Kerala became the first state to have 100% literacy, the President said the ‘Sakshara Keralam’ movement became popular and effective due to the foundations laid down by Panicker. The high literacy and education levels in Kerala have had a multiplier effect. Kerala leads other states on several indices of human development, including aspects of sustainable development.

Successive governments in Kerala have kept a sustained focus on the agenda of growth and development. Therefore, the State has maintained its leadership position on several markers of excellence.

Observing the Punyatithi of Panicker on June 19 as ‘Reading Day’ is the most appropriate way of paying tribute to the great nation builder, he said. Praising the P.N. Panicker Foundation for carrying forward the mission with dedication, the President noted that the Foundation was promoting the cause of digital literacy as a tool to realise the cause of inclusive growth. It has started digital learning in rural areas since the beginning of this century and this effort has succeeded in establishing thousands of home digital libraries.

He appreciated the efforts of the Foundation in reaching the unreached through initiatives like P.N. Panicker National Reading Mission. Referring to a saying in Sanskrit 'Amritam Tu Vidya', which means education or learning is like nectar, the President said the Panicker Foundation was distributing this nectar of learning in the entire country.


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