Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ammannur Madhava Chakyar (1917 - 2008)

Ammannur Madhava Chakyar the 91 year old Kudiyattom dancer is no more. He died on July 1 at his house Ammannur Chakyar Madom, at Irinjalakuda near Thrissur. He was 91. Had it not been for him Kudiyattom would have gradually died a tragic death in select Kerala temples. He brought it out and the world saw this graceful Sanskrit dance form which is a predecessor of Kathakali. He had a string of awards to his name, these included Padma Bhushan, Kalidasa Samman, Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi Award and Kendra Sangeet Nataka Akademi Award. He was selected to receive the UNESCO heritage citation which described Kutdiyattam as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.

I had the good fortune of attending a Kudiyattom performance at the Indore Rajwada on March 20 2008. This was part of the Phalgun festival to celebrate Holi. The Jatayu Ravana confrontation after the abduction of Sita was the theme of that day's performance. Some images I clicked that day

A Short Biography Of Ammannur - Kapila. Kapila maintains a weblog on Kudiyattom. She is a disciple of Ammannur and is the daughter of G Venu who is also a disciple of Ammannur and is an eminent researcher into the dance and theatre forms of Kerala who has also played a major role in the revival of many of these ancient forms.

Link to an article from The Hindu (Friday Mar 18 2005) titled Endowed With Divine Talent. It is about Madhava Chakyar and his disciple and researcher G Venu who were honoured at a function in Chennai. Click here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

P. Sainath - A Mirror For Rural Poverty In India

P. Sainath's despatches from the most poverty struck pockets of India which were published in The Times of India during the nineties had aroused the consciousness of urban Indians towards the cruelty of rural poverty. It was a world that we urbanites were far removed from. It was a world whose very existence we denied. I used to look forward to reading these despatches as he travelled around India on a Times Fellowship. I was not surprised when Penguin brought out these despatches in book form. The title of the book was Everybody Loves a Good Drought. And, not surprisingly, it became a bestseller.

After buying it I was able to read some of the despatches that I had missed. But I admit that it was difficult reading them. It was unbelievable what poverty could make a man do. There were times when, overcome with emotion, I would put the book down. I had sent a copy of this book to a friend in the U.S.A who was working on a research project for her doctorate. She wrote to me that she wept after reading some of the chapters in the book. I became very 'Sainath - sensitive'. I would read any article written by him with utmost attention. It was the same story over and over. How rural India had been ignored and neglected. How the poor lived lives of dignity inspite of the fact that they had hardly anything.

In 2007 Sainath had won the Magasaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Communication Arts. An article in the Economic Times dated 5 August 2007 had brought out a few facts from Sainath - facts which all educated Indians should know.In this age of globalisation we connect to London and New York but not to our countrymen in the rural areas.

Some of the facts which Sainath states in the above mentioned article are:

(1) The rural poor are migrating towards urban India and becoming domestic servants. Delhi has two lakh maids from Jharkhand. These women come from a resource rich area. It is sad that they have to leave their native place and come to a city like Delhi which has nothing but abuse and exploitation for them. But they prefer the anonymity of city life to the toughness of village life. At least they are able to fill their stomach, send money home and have some hope in their hearts.

(2) Sainath says: "Interest on loan for a Mercedes Benz is charged at six to eight per cent while it is 12 to 15 per cent on a tractor loan." One need not add more to this. Our priorities are clear.

(3) More than a lakh of farmers have committed suicide in the past ten years. A majority of farmers would like to take up some other profession.

(4) The coverage of banks in the rural sector has come down from 58 percent to 48 percent. More than 3000 rural banks have shut down in the past few years.

Click here to read the full article.

Thank You P Sainath for showing us an India which we know exists but which we do not wish to acknowledge.
Based on a blog post of many months ago in my Sulekha weblog . I dont know what triggered this post. Must be something I saw/read recently.

p.s. I remember reading somewhere that P.S. happens to be a grandson of ex-President V.V. Giri