31/12/1996

Acceptance speech – Kerala Sastra Sahitya

The best test of a country's future is the edifying impact of the classroom, the extramural attainments and the scientific temper generated in the youth.

Madame Speaker,
Honourable members of this august assembly,
Founder and Members of the Jury of the Right Livelihood Award,
Co-recipients of this coveted Award,
all friends who promote science and champion the cause of human welfare,

It is a matter of great pleasure and even greater pride for me to stand here to receive the Right Livelihood Award on behalf of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad.

We have no words to express our heartfelt thanks for the recognition bestowed on the modest endeavour of the KSSP in the cause of science and society during the past three and half decades.
Ours is a People’s Science Movement, something more than our name denotes, namely Society for Scientific Literature. It started as an organization of intellectuals and science writers who would disseminate science among the common people and cultivate scientific temper and a scientific world outlook among them. In those days the KSSP worked from a number of homes, of its members, in various parts of our state. There was only a kind of loose coordination. In course of time it acquired a higher organizational structure and, more than that, developed new interests and concerns. The attention of the KSSP got focussed on the question of using science as a tool to analyse the problems of our socio-economic development and a weapon in the struggle for a better society. Since it was not merely an academic labour divorced from the concern for the immediate problems of the people as a whole, the KSSP could attract into its fold thousands of men and women who were only too eager to participate in some purposeful activity or other.

The KSSP was never handicapped by a mechanical understanding of its own history, present tasks and future goals. Nor did we confine ourselves to some particular cause or other. Our activists took keen interest in education, health, ecology, economic development, in energy, agriculture, land and water management, in participative planning and a number of other subjects. We looked around, kept our eyes and ears open, assimilated new ideas and originated new schemes and projects that would stimulate people from all walks of life. We had something significant to say in each and every aspect of life and could appeal to all sections and age-groups.

In the year 1974 the KSSP formally adopted the slogan “Science for Social Revolution”. Subsequently in 1978 it christened itself – along with a few other like-minded organizations -, “Peoples Science Movement” or PSM in short. By “People” we mean that part of the Indian society which is steeped in insufferable poverty and utter misery. It consists of millions and millions of people, constituting the majority of our nation. It is visibly contrasted from a small minority wallowing in wealth and luxury.

When we use the word “Science” we are well aware of the way in which its achievements as well as that of technology are hijacked by the rich to rob the poor, nationally and internationally. We consciously attempt to convert this very science and technology into a weapon in the hands of the poor, in their fight against impoverishment.

Yes, ours is a “movement” in the sense that it is an organised, sustained, purposeful activity guided by a vision ever expanding in its scope and reach.

It was in the seventies, the second decade of its existence that the KSSP acquired a new dynamism and grew into a “movement”.
It led a variety of campaigns:

  • Campaigns for adopting our mother tongue as the medium of instructing in our schools
  • Campaigns against industries polluting our rivers and drinking water sources
  • Campaigns for saving the biologically rich Silent Valley Forests
  • Campaigns for eradicating remnants of illiteracy from our state.

What we envision is a nature friendly, people friendly, planned economic development in which the concerned people directly participate.

What we envision is a democratic society in which each citizen participates creatively in running the affairs of the entire society.

What we envision is a society freed from blind consumerism, a society which distinguishes needs from greeds.

What we envision is a society which measures human development in “human” terms and not in terms of per capita income or per capita energy consumption or the like.

During the first decade of its existence the KSSP began to publish three science monthly periodicals, catering to various age groups – 8 to 12, 12 to 16 and 16 plus. During the mid-seventies it began to publish books, an activity which was to become a powerful tool in its campaign as well as a source of finance for its various activities. Our activities took these books and periodicals from door to door, school to school and sold them in large numbers in all seasons.

In the eighties the KSSP started interacting with similar organizations and movements in other parts of India. As a result in 1987, there emerged an All India People´s Science Network. It is this network that has been spear-heading the massive campaigns for literacy in India – mobilizing until this time nearly six million volunteers and sixty million “learners”. The revolutionary potential of this campaign is immense.

Empower the people. Let them, the people at the bottom rungs of the society lead the societal process. It is with this ideal, held consistently, that the KSSP initiated and continued these campaigns.

At this juncture we recall the resurging words of Martin Luther.

“The prosperity of a country depends not on the abundance of its revenues, not on the strength of its fortifications, not on the beauty of its public buildings but it consists in the number of its cultivated citizens, in its men of education, enlightenment and character”.

The KSSP values human resources as the greatest promise of a nation’s future. The best test of a country’s progress is the edifying impact of the class room, the extramural attainments and the scientific temper generated in the youth. Indeed, the “Right Life” is the one in which every member of the society is endowed with moral sensitivity, human dignity and critical faculty. The KSSP believes that these are not commodities to be bought in shops like coke or hamburger. We firmly believe that silence is guilt when speech is called for. And for the past three decades the KSSP has been speaking!

On behalf of my humble organization I once again greet you all on this solemn occasion. It marks an event of great moment in the history of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad. We feel really honoured by this recognition. But when this colourful event concludes and the curtain falls we would sit back and critically evaluate our past activities. This honour has put more responsibilities on our shoulders; we have to live up to the expectations of the world community now. That is why we feel more humble now. But we assure you that we would do justice to this honour; it will inspire us, encourage us to discharge our duties to the nation.

We know that the best award should come from the toiling masses of India and of Kerala in particular. Let me also congratulate the other recipients of the Right Livelihood Award and wish them too a more eventful future.

Thanks to you all once again.




Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad
AKG Road, PO Edappally
Kochi 682 024
INDIA
http://www.kssp.in/