Modern History of Kerala

Kerala’s evolutionary phase starts from a spread out situation of medieval politics to a more centralized and powerful monarchical rule. The substantial monarchical power that had immense wealth and power of the landlords, had hindered the attempts of foreign domination which became the turning point in the modern history of Kerala.

Travancore was one of the kingdoms that laid firm foundations of centralised administration by severe punishments and good administration. On 1st July, 1949 after the independence of India in the year 1947, the princely states of Kochi and Travancore were incorporated to constitute the province of Travancore-Cochin, the Madras Presidency became the Madras State of India. 

The modern history of Kerala incorporates the beginning to India’s independence, the path to Communism and the development of the modern state of Kerala in India. Kerala consisted of three political units; the kingdom of Travancore, which was formed in the eighteenth century, the princely state of Cochin, which is linked with the middle ages and the district of Malabar, which served as the former Kingdom of the Zamorin of  Kolikod(Calicut).

Among the modern line of traders – the Dutch, French, Portuguese and the English, English traders who controlled the fate of Kerala from the year 1791, and it continued till the end of the rule of the British in India in 1947.

Things changed very little in first eighty years of the rule of the British,. The matrilineal joint family structure and the orthodox caste system went on in the three units which were to become the state of Kerala. During the last part of the eighteenth century, coffee and tea plantations developed. In the 1850s, industrial revolution began. Modern education system was founded. The inflow of missionaries created western education in the state. In 1888,  several democratic institutions were founded.

In India, during the 19th century’s last decades there was emergence of nationalism . In 1885 , Indian National Congress was established and it soon became the spearhead of the Indian Nationalist Movement. These developments did not go wasted in Kerala. A conference was held at Kozhikode in 1904 under the auspices of the Congress and in 1908, a district congress committee was formed in Malabar.

Beyond this, there was no political activity worth the name in Malabar. In the 1920s, several political activities geared up when the Indian National Congress that led to the national independence movement. The period marked the gathering of momentum of the communist movement especially in Malabar. During the Civil Disobedience Movement a parallel movement for responsible Government had begun in Travancore and Kochi.

The second phase of civil disobedience movement, which was started by Mahatma Gandhi with his famous Salt March in March 1930, found good responses from all parts of Kerala. In several places, particularly at Payyannur and Kozhikode, salt laws were broken and hundreds of agitators were arrested.

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