Pension to Zamorin family retrograde step: Historians--not a benefit handout: Zamorin royals

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Palakkad, situated east to Calicut. It was a continuation of the attacks on the Kingdom of Valluvanad, the traditional rivals of Calicut. In the one sided Valluvanad attacks the Zamorin had captured much of the land from Eranad to Nedunganad. So, this time Zamorin marched against Palakkad and easily occupied Nadvattom which tore the Kingdom of Palakkad right through the middle.
Komi Achan, the King of Palakkad, requested the faujdar of Dindigul, Hyder Ali to help him. Hyder Ali sent a massive force under Makhdoom Ali and soon the allied forces defeated the Zamorin. By these attacks, Hyder Ali also planned to capture the vast treasuries of Malabar kings which were obtained by the spice trade.
Zamorin came to a treaty with Haider Ali, in which he was demanded to pay twelve hundred thousand rupees as the war reparations. However, the Zamorin technically deceived Hyder Ali after the return of the Mysore Army from Malabar. But, for his role in these activities Hyder Ali was rewarded by Devaraja, the Prime Minister of Mysore, with the jaghir (regional governorship) of Bangalore.

KOZHIKODE: The state government's decision to grant pension to Zamorin royal family descendants has landed in a controversy with historians terming it as a retrograde step amounting to backdoor re-introduction of the privy purse system.

The government had earlier this week decided to give each member of the family, numbering 826, Rs 2,500/month as "an acknowledgement of the family's donation of properties to the government, which are worth crores of rupees". The cabinet decision would cost the state exchequer around Rs 2.5 crore annually.

The family had ruled the Malabar coast for six centuries from 12th century

Pension not a benefit handout: Zamorin royals

KOZHIKODE: Members of the Zamorin royal family have said that monthly pension to the descendants of the family announced by the state government recently should not be considered as a benefit handout.

Speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, family members said that the pension would not even work out to a fraction of the huge returns accrued to the government from the custody of the private properties, which belonged to the family. "The pension is not an allowance and can only be viewed as a rental payment for the properties which are still under the custody of the government. It is totally wrong to term it as privy purse," they said.

The state government had earlier last month decided to give each member of the Kozhikode Zamorin royal family, numbering 826, a sum of Rs 2,500 per month as 'an acknowledgement of the family's donation of properties to the government, which are worth crores of rupees'. The cabinet decision was estimated to cost the state exchequer around Rs 2.5 crore annually.

The erstwhile Zamorin royal family had ruled the Malabar Coast for six centuries from 12th century to 18th century, during which the Kozhikode port city emerged as a global trading hub.

P C Ettanunni Raja, a member of the erstwhile royal family said that the previous E K Nayanar government had on November 13, 2000 issued an order sanctioning pension for the family members. But it could be implemented due to a technical issue in the order.

"The Oommen Chandy government has only set right the technical issue in the order to make the pension payment possible," he said. The family members also said that while the Supreme Court had clearly stated that proper compensation should be paid for the property acquired by the government, it has not happened in the case of the Zamorin properties.

Zamorin family members, Kerala Varma, Krishna Varma Raja, Vijayakumaran Raja, PCV Raja and KCM Raja were present at the press conference.

The cabinet decision was estimated to cost the state exchequer around Rs 2.5 crore annually.


A steel engraving from the 1850s, with modern hand coloring - It shows meeting between Vasc da Gama and Zamorin

The route of Vasco da Gama's first voyage (1497–1499), what became the typical Carreira da ├Źndia


A misunderstood depiction of the "hook-swinging" ritual in Calicut once commonly performed as part of some popular Hindu religious festivals.

Sailors first came to face with the idol of Deumo at Calicut on the Malabar Coast and they concluded it to be the god of Calicut. It is described that the ruler of Calicut (Zamorin) has an image of Deumo in his temple.



Historian M G S Narayanan said the government had taken a 'stupid decision' that went against the country's interests.

"The very argument that the family had donated properties worth crores of rupees to the government is not true. It had fled to Travancore when the army of Hyder Ali invaded Calicut. The then Zamorin committed suicide and the palace was set afire. The region subsequently came under the rule of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, and later under the British."



Small vessels used in Malabar from Thomas Astley's A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels, London, 1745

Narayanan said even today large number of temples and landed properties are under trusts and committees in which the family has a say. He said the government decision was against the spirit of the Constitution (26th Amendment) Act, 1971, which banned privy purses and special privileges to rulers of former Indian states.

He said the government should instead think of a befitting monument to the Zamorin dynasty, which founded the city of Calicut and made it a leading hub of global trade.

P K Krishnanunni Raja, a member of the royal family, said the controversy was very unfortunate. "No one can deny the contributions made by the family to the development of Kozhikode," he said.Properties currently worth crores of rupees, which belonged to the family, are housing government and public offices now.

The Kottaparamba government hospital and Mananchira are examples."

He said a majority of descendants did not have enough financial means for a decent life now.

Map of Samoothiri kingdom

Historian K K N Kurup said the decision would set a bad precedent. "There would be at least 10,000 members belonging to erstwhile royal families in the state. The Cochin royal family, with around 600 members, had given properties worth hundreds of crores to the government, including many palaces."

Providing special privileges to select families was incompatible with the egalitarian social order envisaged under the constitution, he said.

Stele installed in Calicut by Zheng He (modern replica)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Pension not a benefit