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

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Useful and enjoyable reading for anyone planning to visit the West Ghats (or having been there before): two novels that capture local history in English translation; each chronicling the lives of people attached to their land and customs while facing the pressures imposed by India’s mainstream society:

  1. Kocharethi the Araya Woman by Narayanan
    New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011
  2. When the Kurinji Blooms by Rajam Krishnan
    New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009
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Each books is written from a different angle: the first one by male Malayalam writer ‘Narayan’ who hails from Kerala’s Malayarayar community; and the second one by Rajam Krishnan (1925-2014), a well know Tamil novelist drawing from her life amidst the Badaga communities in the Nilgiri mountains. Both succeed in portraying people who see change as being unavoidable in economical terms and even attractive where 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.


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