Two novels on West Ghat tribal cultural heritage: Changing perceptions of land and its ownership – Kerala & Tamil Nadu

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Kocharethi the Araya Woman by Narayanan
New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011
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When the Kurinji Blooms by Rajam Krishnan
New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009

Two novels that capture local history in English translation
Each novel is written from a different angle, yet both chronicle the lives of people attached to their land and customs while facing the pressures imposed by mainstream society: one by male Malayalam writer ‘Narayan’ who hails from Kerala’s Malayarayar community; and the other by Rajam Krishnan (1925-2014), a well known Tamil novelist who drew from her life amidst the Badaga communities in the Nilgiri mountains. Both portray people who see change as being unavoidable in economical terms if not attractive as education promises an end to oppression and exploitation; yet neither envisages lasting benefits for the people concerned until their rights and aspirations – notably access to ancestral lands and the constitutionally guaranteed right to benefit (again) from their natural resources – are also being taken into account.

In his play Muktadhara (The Waterfall), Tagore robustly employs this element of freedom. The play relates the story of an exploited people and their eventual release from it. [Today, when] tribal populations across India are being uprooted with impudence Tagore’s message of freedom, in all its shades, is of utmost relevance.

Bhaswati Ghosh in Freedom in Tagore’s Plays | Learn more >>

Learn more

Accord | Ashwini community health programme | Gudalur | Nilgiri | Shola TrustViswa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust

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