For the first time, the writings of well-known women’s activist Mythily Sivaraman were compiled into a book titled Haunted By Fire, and was released in the city recently.
CPM State secretary G Ramakrishnan released the book, which was received by P Shanmugam, State president, Tamil Nadu Tribal Association.
Mythily Sivaraman is a noted women’s activist who brought the attention of the world and nation to various issues relating to caste violence and suppression of women, through her writings. She served as president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) in the 90s. Being a staunch supporter of Marxism, she entered CPM in the 1960s and came to be known as one among the important woman leaders in the party, followed by K P Janakiammal and Pappa Umanath.
“After she entered politics, she made her contribution as a political economist thinker. Later, she also involved herself in social activism,” said V Geetha, a researcher, who compiled the book.
“It was in 2007 that we took efforts to do a documentary film on Mythily Sivaraman. But due to various reasons it did not happen,” Geetha added. “Instead, we decided to compile her works that have been published in many popular intellectual journals and magazines like The Radical Review, Mainstream and Economic and Political Weekly.”
Sivaraman’s works have been a helping hand in solving many issues. In his address, P Shanmugam said, “It was through her writings that the Vachathi case saw a turning point.”
He added, “Following the brutal attack by Forest, Police and Revenue Department personnel on tribal people in Vachathi in Dharmapuri district in 1992, she went to the village, did a field study and reported her findings in magazines. After seeing the reports Bhamathi IAS, the then Director of SC/ST Commission launched a one-woman fact-finding committee and submitted a report to the High Court. Only after this the case received more attention.”
In her address, Professor Uma Chakravarthy, who did a documentary on Sivaraman said, “Her writings on class struggles brought the issue to public knowledge. Her reportage on the encounter of Seeraalan and sexual abuse of Nagammal during the final months of the Emergency period, drew the world’s attention as well as that of bureaucrats and made them take action.”
Former Judge of Madras HC, Justice Chandru said, “Many times in my career, Sivaraman’s writings helped me while making my verdict on cases. Once she advised me saying, ‘Don’t be a lawyer but a spokesperson for the people’. Throughout my career I followed this advice.”
G Ramakrishnan said, “Mythily is not only an intellectual, but also an activist. She was inspired by a visit to Cuba and became an anti-American imperialist. May this give her a boost to enter politics and to work for the welfare of the underprivileged.”
City-based publication Bharathi Puthakalayam and Left Word have published the book.