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Kozhikode, India’s First UNESCO City of Literature

On June 23, 2024, Kozhikode made history by becoming the first UNESCO City of Literature in India. This prestigious recognition highlights the city’s rich literary heritage and cultural significance.

A City of Talent and Freedom

Minister for Local Self-Government M.B. Rajesh announced the achievement, comparing Kozhikode to London in its ability to attract and nurture talent. He described the city as:

  • Unpretentious
  • Hospitable
  • Possessing an undying spirit of freedom

Cultural Contributions

Kozhikode’s literary legacy includes:

  • Two Jnanpith Award winners
  • Notable contributions in cinema, music, and media

Beating the Odds

The city’s success in becoming India’s first City of Literature surprised many, as it surpassed Kolkata, a city with a longer literary tradition. This achievement was credited to:

  • Effective planning and preparation
  • Initiative by the Mayor and Kerala Institute of Local Administration

Celebrating Literature: New Initiatives

Annual “City of Literature Day”

Mayor M. Beena Philip announced that June 23 will be celebrated annually as “City of Literature Day.”

Literary Awards

Six categories of awards will be presented during an annual cultural festival:

  1. Comprehensive contribution
  2. Women writers
  3. Young writers
  4. Children’s literature
  5. Translations from Malayalam to other languages
  6. Translations from other languages to Malayalam

Tourism and Cultural Centers

  • The Malabar Literary Circuit will include Beypore and writer Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s house
  • Anakkulam Cultural Centre will become the “City of Literature centre”

Honouring Literary Giants

The Kozhikode Corporation’s diamond jubilee award was presented to renowned writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair at his home due to health issues.

Looking Ahead

This recognition opens up numerous opportunities for Kozhikode to further develop its literary scene and cultural heritage. As the first Indian city to receive this honor, Kozhikode sets an example for other cities to celebrate and promote their literary traditions.

The UNESCO City of Literature status is not just an achievement for Kozhikode, but for all of Kerala and India. It recognizes the city’s commitment to fostering creativity, promoting literature, and preserving its rich cultural heritage.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • UNESCO DG: Audrey Azoulay;
  • UNESCO Founded: 16 November 1945;
  • UNESCO Headquarters: Paris, France.

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