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A tribute to the founder

P. Govinda Pillai strode into the world of knowledge like a titan till he died on November 22, 2012. He was best known among both intellectuals and common people, politician and social activists, in fact people of all walks of life by the acronym PG. His greatest contribution to Kerala society was that he brought knowledge from the confines of academia, erudition from the cloisters of universities to public domain. From there, he took it to the field of political activism, social and cultural intervention. Knowledge was for him a tool for social intervention and change.

The knowledge he scaled was like a mountain range. He read and assimilated ideas from books on varied subjects, for example, from philosophical treatises to exposition of scientific theories, from anthropology to Marxian aesthetics, and so on. His interest ranged from the works of British Marxist historian Eric John Ernest Hosbawn to John Le Carre, celebrated author of espionage novels. He wrote extensively on global politics, culture and philosophy and spoke at numerous seminars meetings and study classes.

All through his life PG was looked upon as a communist ideologue and Marxist theoretician. True, he belonged to that genre of intellectuals but it cannot be gainsaid that he transcended the makings of an ideologue. He was a great humanist. That was why he could temper the harsh sternness of communist ideology with the sure touch of humanism. However, the elan emanating from the vast fund of his knowledge in social sciences muted adverse criticism although there were some stray voices against him.

From the early years of his career as a social activist he opposed feudalistic and retrogressive mind- set in art and culture. He was the moving force behind the formation of ‘Purogamana Kala Sahitya Sanghom’ (Progressive Art & Literary Movement). However, his singular achievement lies in his efforts to harness science and technology for ushering in better practices in governance and to facilitate delivery of speedy services to society. He devoted all his causative energy for the purpose by forming the Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) in 1988 and remained it’s Director for two terms from Dec. 1988 to May 1991 & June 1996 to May 2001.

He looked upon cinema not only as great entertainer but also as an instrument to illuminate the thought processes of society and to effect social change. He was Chairman of KSFDC and was instrumental in the formation of Kerala State Chalachitra Academy.

Born on March 25, 1926, he was arrested in 1942 for his participation in Quit India movement. He joined the Communist party in 1946, was arrested and remained behind bars till 1951. At the age of 25 he got elected to Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly and he was elected to Kerala Legislative Assembly from Perumbavoor constituency during 1957-’59 and 1967-’69.