Vimochana Samaram

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The Vimochana Samaram (or "liberation struggle") was a movement in 1959 in the Indian State of Kerala by the combined forces of the Catholic Church, the Nair Service Society, and the Indian Union Muslim League. The movement was against the policies that were being enacted by the Communist government under the Chief Minister E.M.S. Namboodiripad.[1]

The controversial legislation[edit]

There were two main bills being proposed by the Kerala Communist administration.

The Education bill[edit]

The Education bill was actually the immediate cause of the Vimochana Samaram. The bill was proposed by the then-Education Minister Joseph Mundassery. Mundassery was known for being a literary critic and professor at St. Thomas College in Trichur, Kerala. As a professor, Mundassery observed the corruption prevalent in colleges during that era. Most of the educational institutions were administered by the Christian churches; however, they received government funding. Corrupt acts included teachers receiving very low wage (presumably with no food stamps) and non-Christian students being disadvantaged when applying for admission. Joseph Mundassery wanted to reverse this trend and universalize education for all resident in Kerala by introducing the Education bill. This bill introduced regulations to working conditions, a removal of student "quotas" favoring Christian students, and allowing teachers to receive fair salary directly from the government. However, the Catholic Church and other Christian clergyman portrayed this policy as an attack on religious and minority freedom when in reality, this bill was meant only to halt corruption in educational institutions.[2] That didn't stop the bishops from sending pastoral letters to the churches in their dioceses which portrayed Mundassery and the Communist government as "godless" and a threat to their religion. In reality, the pastoral letters were nothing more than propaganda at best! In fact, the Catholic Church invented the word propaganda![3]

Agrarian Reform bill[edit]

In pre-independence Kerala up to the 1950's, a sort of feudal system dominated the economic platform. There were two classes: the Jenmi (or landlords), who were mostly Brahmin (priest), Nair (aristocrats and warriors), and Syrian Christians; and the Kudikidappukar, the agricultural laborers who were basically low-caste slaves. The Agrarian Reform Bill addressed the rampant socioeconomic imbalance prevalent in Kerala at the time. This bill shifted land ownership from the jenmi to the kudikidapukkar laborers who worked on the land. Obviously upper-caste Hindus and Syrian Christians didn't appreciate the fact that the proposed bill was infringing on their rights to drive slaves for their own personal profit. Therefore, they fought back through the Vimochana Samaran [4][5]

The CIA was involved[edit]

Interestingly, the CIA was partially involved in the Vimochana Samaram. This shouldn't be a surprise considering the popular 50's mantra of "better dead than red!" The protest movement was funded by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the US ambassador to India from 1973 to 1975, in other to "prevent additional Keralas."[6]

Despite the name, the Vimochana Samaram was not a liberation struggle. It was a battle waged by Catholic clergymen and aristocratic Hindus using their layman devotees as pawns. This protest movement may be an example of how religious leaders may battle the common man for personal gains.


  1. Plunkett, Cannon & Harding 2001, p. 24
  2. "Education bill". Kerala government.
  4. Land reforms". Government of kerala
  5. P Radhakrishnan. Peasant Struggles, Land Reforms and Social Change: Malabar 1836-1982. Radhakrishnan. pp. 78–79.
  6. Thomas Johnson Nossiter. Communism in Kerala : A Study in Political Adaptation. Oxford University Press, 1982.