Preserving Malayalee Culture

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Preserving Malayalee culture, heritage and legacy in the disruptive Internet Age

The progressive and forward thinking Malaysian Malayalee community has always placed a high regard, emphasis and priority on educational excellence as part of the social upliftment of its own and the global Kerala diaspora.
The high standard of literacy, educational excellence and professional expertise of leading members of the community in all spheres of the socio economic field attests to this pursuit of superlative educational attainment and commitment.
The many unrecognized personal
sacrifices and unyielding commitment to achieving the most of one’s personal growth potential is a common characteristic of the Malayalee family makeup and psyche that is reflected in the esteemed and high regard, respect and standing that society has for the progressive minded community.
However preserving the rich tapestry of legacy, heritage, culture and language of our Kerala kinfolk in the Malaysian context has come under immense strains and challenges of late from the advent of the Internet and it’s relentless foray and inevitable influence in all spheres of modern civilization.
Newly-minted All Malaysia Malayalee Association President Datuk Rajan Menon is keen to ensure that the community upholds its treasured legacy and heritage amid the challenges that come with a digitally divisive and disruptive new world technological order heralded by the Internet revolution.
An exemplary and eloquent speaker of his mother tongue, Datuk Rajan is a strong advocate, vanguard and champion of preserving the rich traditions and culture of the Malayalee community in Malaysia.
In that sense, as President of AMMA, Datuk Rajan has always been in the forefront of espousing and championing the cause of the community through its main umbrella body and its closely linked samajams.
“It is crucial that our Malayalee community, particularly the younger generation, strives to preserve and uphold our much treasured heritage, culture and language to ensure future generations do not lose touch with our immeasurable and timeless values, customs and traditions.
“We have seen the slow motion demise and gradual decline in cultural norms and traditions that were once held up for posterity by our Malayalee community and passed on unselfishly to the next generation.
“Ironically, in the age of the Internet and interconnectivity and media convergence, the Malayalee community is facing its greatest challenge and upheaval in ensuring its vital links with its past are preserved and passed on to the next generation.”
Datuk Rajan adds that the advent of the Internet and the relentless advance and sweeping encroachment of technology titans like Google, Amazon and social media in all spheres of modern civilization has led to a drastic worldwide decline in the culture of reading particularly among the young Malayalee generation and millennials.
Datuk Rajan quotes American educator Austen Phelps whose saying: “Get an old coat and buy a new book” has ironically turned out into the modern day dismal
phenomenon of folks not even buying old (and cheap books) but spending exorbitant sums of money on their attire in a society that places a premium on exhibitionism and not intellectual inspiration and growth.
And the seismic fallout and implications of a new age where the Internet plays the dominant and immersive role in our technology driven lives is being felt throughout almost every sphere of human activity.
“Ours is increasingly evolving into a planet where apps power every conceivable idea from communication tools to recreational pursuits and the foray into the Internet of Things.
“From smart phones to smart tablets and even more smarter apps the Internet is transforming our lives in ways that were hardly conceivable years ago by our community when rotary dial phones and the obsolete Telegram were the sole means of connectivity in the 19th and early 20th century. “
But Datuk Rajan laments that not all the technological advances have been for the better and our reading culture has paid the price as the first casualty of the Internet’s relentless juggernaut into an unknown, unpredictable and almost scary new world.
“The mainstream newspaper industry is fast becoming a sunset industry globally as proven by plunging circulation numbers and the drastic loss of advertising revenue that has seen entire publications fold up in despair and defeat.
“Media portals have taken their place with their sense of immediacy and breaking news coverage neatly condensed in everyone’s cellphones. All in tune with a target audience that seeks instant gratification on being informed with up to the minute news coverage.”
Datuk Rajan says the decline in reading culture transcends far beyond the borders of the traditional media newsroom or the more modern integrated news platforms of convergence encompassing tv, radio, smartphones and all manner of digital devices.
“Our public libraries and repositories of books, once regarded by intellectuals as the fountain of knowledge, are at dire risk of being relics of a distant past when reading defined knowledge, character and intellectual growth.
“With fewer folks making use of our public libraries, there will inevitably be funding issues for such facilities and the inevitable and agonizing consequence will be the dearth and scarcity of such knowledge repositories that are so much a part of our modern civilisational and intellectual landscape.”
He adds that the bookworm as we know it will be a quaint piece of fossilised wonder in the next century if significant measures are not taken to redress the slide in our learning curve as a consequence of our pervasive disinterest and dislike for literature, books, periodicals and tomes.
The drastic decline in reading culture has now encompassed our so called ivory towers and tertiary institutions where tomes, proposal papers and course work have been replaced by power point presentations and notes on tablets and other digital devices.
Where even graduate students struggle to string a simple logical or structured sentence together that exposes their inherent and fundamental vulnerabilities in language command, fluency and thought processes.
Where academicians rue the decline in educational standards with every new batch of graduate students that are churned out and join the ranks of the jobless or slip into a modicum of mediocrity that exemplifies our national middle income trap syndrome and malaise.
“And we lament the quality, standard and technological capability of our graduates and an equally unskilled workforce that no doubt are left languishing in the bottom of any known productivity scale worth measuring.
“The decline in reading has meant whole generations skipping books for digital devices and in the process they have lost the power of empathy that is the real value that books provide. The art of conversation and family bonding has suffered as a result.
“The young have switched off from books for an addiction to all things electronic - from laptops to cellphones - and the new age teen is a junkie wired and tuned round the clock to Facebook, social media, YouTube and whose aspiration is none of the traditional choice professions of medicine, engineering or accountancy but to be a YouTuber!”
And with the loss of empathy humanity is destined to agonizingly and inevitably slide down that slippery slope of decline towards intolerance for others’ differing views.
Datuk Rajan says these are the dire challenges of the new Information Age that the Malaysian Malayalee community must contend and grapple with as it strives to uphold and preserve its traditions, culture, heritage and, most crucially, the precious mother tongue and legacy of its community.
“AMMA and it’s samajams must work together to face the challenges and ensure the Malaysian Malayalee community forges ahead with renewed vision, courage, perseverance and steadfast commitment to its role as the standard bearer of the community’s ideals and values.”


All Malaysian Malayalee Association


40-B, Lorong Rahim Kajai 14,
Taman Tun Dr.Ismail,  
60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: +603-7725-8001/2
Fax: +603-7725-207