Reality Check India

Je Suis Tiruchengode or Perumal Murugan?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 14, 2015

There is currently a firestorm raging in Tamil progressive circles over Perumal Murugan’s book Mathorubaagan.  Every activist worth his or her salt has tweeted in support of Mr Murugan while heaping scorn and contempt on the Hindutva Caste groups who hounded him over the book.  Mindless activism of this nature will only hurt true supporters of free speech as I argue in this article.

Tiruchengode Umaiorubaagan

Tiruchengode Car Festival 

Events

Here is a quick summary of the events for those unfamiliar with the issue.  Perumal Murugan is a Tamil writer whose novel  Mathorubaagan was published in 2010 by Kalachuvadu. An English translation One Part Woman followed in 2014 published by Penguin.  The storyline is about a childless couple set in 1940’s  Tiruchengode, a small town in central Tamilnadu. The plot builds up to a ritual in the Maathorubaagan temple where the protagonist joins other childless women engaging in free sex in an attempt to get impregnated. About three weeks ago, a few caste outfits along with Hindu Munnani began a series of protests alleging that the novel portrayed the temple as well as the women of their community in bad light. They starting distributing what in their view was objectionable material to the townfolk. The Tiruchengode Arthanareeswarar Girivala Nala Sangam (Society of Tiruchengode Sacred Hill Circumambulation) representing participants, the temple and other well wishers took the legal course by approaching the police. The district administration and the police attempted to broker a truce and initially Mr Murugan agreed to pull unsold copies and excise the objectionable parts from the book. That should have settled it. Until the left progressives decided to make it their fight.

Things got rapidly out of control as pressure on Murugan not to succumb to Hindutva Sanghi Casto-Fascism mounted.  News outlets like Caravan and The Hindu known for progressive views built up a campaign eventually railroading Mr Murugan into an unenviable position. The latest news is that Mr Murugan announced that he has quit writing altogether.

This sordid affair is certainly about freedom of speech but there are two sides to every coin.  I have read the book and I think that the objections of the Tiruchengode Girivala Nala Changam and the various Hindu outfits are exceptionally strong.

 

Where fiction turns libel

The central question is this : “Are there any limits to how much you can fictionalize real people, events, institutions?”  Do all the activists really believe that there should be no such thing as unprotected speech?

Just imagine a world where the only defence against defamation was retort.  To take an example : I  take out an ad in the newspaper saying that there is proof that Colgate toothpaste causes oral cancer. Assuming The Hindu newspaper in a valiant hurrah to my right of expression publishes the ad. I will end up with a lawsuit by evening. Why should Colgate sue me for this and not publish a book explaining in detail why my claim is wrong?  Pardon me for dwelling on this a little longer because this is the central issue. If you believe all speech including misrepresentation, fraud, defamation should be permitted – then you also have to believe that all force including knocking me over with a club should be.  After all, if I am only allowed to respond to a defamation by publishing a retort. Then I am only allowed to respond to an assault by a counter assault. If I happen to be a weak person, I should make up for the deficit by paying a henchman to carry out the assault. You can quickly see the kind of society that will result from these rules. So if you are still reading this article ; you probably agree with the idea that not all speech can be protected. Now lets turn to Maathorubaagan.

I just finished reading the original Tamil version Maathorubaagan today I assume the English version is a direct translation. As mentioned earlier, the book is about a couple, Kali and Ponna who are childless even after a decade of marriage. In an era where assisted reproduction techniques were non existent but the societal prejudice against childlessness were just as strong; nothing was ruled out. The authors proposition is interesting because in these matters the male can be equally at fault. This is narrated in a breezy way. Essentially the story leads to a “ritual” (the subject of the tension) where womenfolk are allowed by societal norms to mate with anyone on the last day of the chariot festival.  Where I think the author went too far is blending in an unsavory promiscuity  against a real temple, real festival, and a real caste that exists to this day.  Mr Murugan probably  recognized the importance of blurring out the details belatedly and rightfully offered to do so. But that was before the activist drones descended.

There is no ambiguity in the book.  The Vaigasi Visagam festivities, the chariot being pulled around town, the little details like the four streets, the various deities, descriptions of the fair, and on and on. The last day of the function he writes was “full of women over 30” and on that day “all women are prostitutes”. The caste names also leave no room for ambiguity – it is about the womenfolk of Kongu Vellala Gounders.

The Vaigasi Visagam festivities happen to this day where the same communities participate in roughly the same manner. Those protesting have a right to demand an explanation. It is worthwhile to remember that they did not damage any property or resort to violence.  Burning books is a well accepted mode of protest. Look at the matter from the vantage point of community leaders.  If left uncontested it means their temple going womenfolk would be fair game for lewd comments and unwanted advances. 

Was this ritual a figment of the imagination ?  Was it oral tradition or hearsay ? Is there a difference between the two. This is what it boils down to.

But what about Niyoga ?

Noted progressive intellectual AR Venkatachalapathy in an article feverishly defends the author against Sanghis. He says this kind of copulation is  not outside the realm of possibility and cites the Niyoga Dharma– the Hindu tradition of sex. But what he does not understand is that there is a huge gap between the realm of the possible and imputing a ritual in a real event.   This is just a remarkably ignorant take that needs no further discussion.

Evidence of ritual

The only  evidence Mr Murugan offers is that he ran into many people named “Sami Pillai” or “Ardhanari” in that area. Upon further enquiry he ran into an oral account of this tradition. I do not doubt that he might have heard this. Unfortunately this standard ; of hearsay is insufficient.  While it is an interesting proposition or a plausible explanation for the Saami Pillais such a lack of evidence should have automatically meant blurring out the details.  I am therefore with the Tiruchengode people in thinking this ritual is just a figment of the authors imagination and their community and their beloved temple cannot be the site for such fictionalizing. An imagination that the author is no doubt entitled to but only after adding in ambiguity.

Penance for childlessness is an extremely common phenomenon in Tamilnadu to this day. From lighting lamps, circling hills, rolling over, to cutting roosters – every community has its version of Saami Pillai or Pichais. I dont think willingness to do extreme penance means women would agree to have sex with other men.  Such an outlandish ritual can hardly be kept under wraps the way Kali’s mother and mother-in-law do in the story.  The males who feast  on these women can also be hardly expected to keep their end of the bargain – of disappearing immediately after sex.  Legally I am afraid Mr Murugan is not on as strong a ground as the Tiruchengode Girivala Nala Changam.  I am also with the townfolk who rightfully recognize that while begetting a child is important; honor is even more so.

Should activists and poets decide what constitutes protected speech on a case by case basis?  Let us assume we browbeat the Tiruchengode townfolk and let Mr Murugan have his way. What if the next author comes by and writes a similar story and THE ACTIVISTS FAIL TO SHOW UP. 

Je suis..?

 

 

Advertisements

47 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. reason said, on January 14, 2015 at 8:25 am

    has mr. murugan identified the caste of the males who ‘feast’ on the women? or provided any clues to help identify?
    i haven’t read the book and do not intend to. i went thru his interview and ‘the hindu’ activists articles. mr. murugan belongs to a caste/religious group that is represented by viduthalai siruthai party. that much is clear. In tamil nadu’s progressive culture, there is only one caste group that can be freely lampooned. The entire hindu religion also was fair game, but unfortunately for the progressives, that is changing.

    anyway, bottom line is good riddance to another bad rubbish.

    • missiamma said, on January 20, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      Perumal Murugan is a Gounder. VCK is a mostly Paraiyar party.

  2. nparamasivam1951 said, on January 14, 2015 at 9:27 am

    He is distorting the history. What he wrote about Tiruchengode festival is not real. May be his church paymasters might have asked him to defame the famous temple of Tiruchengode and residents. The Leftist are shouting because Hindus are united. Murugan, a christian convert, want to do justice to his new religion and paymasters. Otherwise, this rubbish is not fit for a book.

  3. Soma Visal said, on January 14, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Even one Amish, in his Book on Trilogy of Shiva, has said Lord Shiva married Sati who is a widow who gave birth to Lord Ganesha. And finally Sati died in a cruel way (war). Where are the so called Hindu saviours? No knowledge about this three parts book?!

    • realitycheck said, on January 14, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      Two issues with your reasoning.

      1. Just because Hindutva Sanghi Forces did not protest Lord Shiva does not mean they should keep quiet for all.

      2. More important. There is a difference between a general blasphemy of Hindu gods/scriptures/epics that might offend 900Million vs imputing a SPECIFIC promiscuous culture in a SPECIFIC caste in a PARTICULAR temple.

  4. Mallika said, on January 14, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    I would look at this case as a clear case of slander and defamation. The author is calling all women who attend this chariot festival as prostitutes. As an analogy, lets say during Christmas break, a lot of couples meet. Under this context, if the author wrote about all the promiscuous, lascivious crap, the same ‘Hindu activists’ would cry murder.

    Good riddance of bad rubbish

  5. xyz said, on January 14, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/what-is-behind-dravidian-parties-silence-in-perumal-murugan-issue/article6787696.ece?utm_source=Most

    “General secretary of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi D. Ravikumar says the silence of the Dravidian outfits was not something to be surprised about. “In Tamil Nadu, it has always been easier to raise your voice when only religion is involved. In the case of Mr. Murugan, there is a dangerous mixture of caste and religion and hence the reluctance of the parties,” he opines.

    Apart from organisations owing allegiance to Hindutva, the main opposition to Mr. Murugan has come from outfits claiming to represent the Kongu Vellalar community, a powerful intermediate(whatever that means-my comment) caste group which holds a decisive vote-bank in the Western region of the State.

    Professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) C. Lakshmanan, who also hails from the Tiruchengode region, says there is more to the development surrounding Mr. Murugan than what meets the eye.

    “Mr. Murugan has consistently written about the ills of the education system in the Namakkal area, an industry in which powerful caste leaders have high stakes. He has also been a critic of caste discrimination and dedicated one of his books to Ilavarasan of Dharmapuri. Silencing him helps maintain status quo,” he says.”

  6. xyz said, on January 14, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/people-are-looking-to-settle-scores-with-me-perumal-murugan/article6778030.ece?ref=relatedNews

    “I think, for the first time, caste organisations and Hindu organisations have come together on the same platform. The Hindu Munnani and three other caste organisations are running the campaign. Their objective has nothing to do with the book, since they are not ready to relent even after I promised to change the name of the village in the next edition of the book. After I issued a clarification, the local police officials arranged a meeting with the four organisations to find a compromise. I waited, along with the Revenue Development Officer. But none of those who objected to the book turned up.

    Why are caste outfits involved in this?

    Caste organisations and so-called educationists, who are running schools in Namakkal and Tiruchengode areas that specialise in rote-learning and deny students sporting activities, have been looking for an opportunity to settle score with me as I have been constantly writing against the education system and caste practices. I have also compiled a collection of 32 articles by my students, who had borne the brunt of casteism, in “Saathiyum Naanum.” I have dedicated my latest novel “Pookuli” to Dharmapuri Ilavarsan, a victim of casteism. People refused to buy the novel after seeing my dedication to the book.

    Did you not realise that the theme of the novel and making references to a community could land you in trouble?

    Our society is steeped in casteism; how can a writer and his writings remain aloof? I have used the word Gounder. But there are so many communities that bear the title. I have avoided referring to any community in “Pookuli.”

    Is there any documentary evidence to support the existence of consensual sex, written about in the book?

    There is no historical evidence. Details about the custom were passed on orally. Writer Theodore Baskaran and Professor A.K. Perumal have also written about similar customs that prevailed in other parts of the State. For example, [there is] the Thuppatti festival in which men and women participate while covering their faces.”

  7. senthil said, on January 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Excellent article.. there is one point that needs to be corrected.. Niyoga cannot be equated with anonymous random sex as perumal murugan has depicted. There are strict rules for Niyoga, where the issueless woman can beget child in pre-defined ways.. either through a rishi, or through the brother of her deceased husband.. Niyoga should not be done with any other people.. and in niyoga, the sex has to be done ONLY for child and No pleasure should be sought in it ..

    Perumal Murugan and his murpokku gang, tried to equate the scene to niyoga.. that needs to be countered..

  8. Seth said, on January 14, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Excellent article. You should see the comparisons made by users in their comments (not the article itself) http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/silencing-a-sensitive-writer/article6785729.ece to the Charlie incident and the PK movie controversy. Shows how ignorant people are to what this issue really is. Thanks for writing this post.

  9. realitycheck said, on January 14, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Wanted to address one point raised by friends on Twitter.

    “Concerned about accepting concept of group defamation. If we accept Gounder women’s claims we must accept Muslim claim too.”

    I am generally very liberal when it comes to free speech. I am not in favour of group libel or even poor light libel -where a story shows a group or organization in less than favourable light.

    I think we are also in agrrement on what the law IS vs what it OUGHT to be. I think my friends on the right would agree that we are not talking about what the law IS. We know that under existing law there is enough cause for a case here. We are arguing whether or not our ideal laws would consider Mr Murugan’s work to be the basis of a lawsuit.

    The issue is not the extent of defamation but the precision of identification. The novel was very precise in identifying the temple, the exact event, the day when the orgies take place in addition to the caste of the women. A muslim may not have a case because of all the talk about terrorism and Islam. It is dispersed and not very precise. On the other hand, if someone wrote a book alleging that the Mosque on MG Road trained boys in terrorism and girls to be sex slaves – then even without naming the people there is definitely a cause of action here. Extend that to stories about raping boys in church. You get the point.

    Two options :

    1. If the temple was named but the caste of the women wasnt named. Then again the affected population is too large and imprecise.

    2. If the caste was named but the temple was blurred out – say they called it Mickeymouseswarar temple. Then there is no case and unlikely to be a rage.

    3. If it was general fantasy about morals of Kongu area women, that is once again too imprecise. But to be sure Tamilnadu might have taken to the streets on that too. But I would not support it.

    I therefore stand by this article. If this is allowed to be the standard – then there is nothing that prevents a gay sex fantasy around Sabarimala or on any temple or church. Of course the activists will pick and choose which targets are worthy of trending. Sounds like dystopia ..

    • senthil said, on January 15, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      /** If the caste was named but the temple was blurred out – say they called it Mickeymouseswarar temple. Then there is no case and unlikely to be a rage.
      **/

      How can it be. If a caste is named, then it also constitues a libel. right. it precisely points to people group.

      Suppose say, if a particular caste woman is being depicted in bad light, can it be accepted..

      I think you have missed a major point.. The novel has abused the women folk of tiruchengode area, and particularly particular caste. this is the most sensitive point, as no community or society can accept such defamation of their woman.

      On the other hand, suppose if the novel depicted men alone, i feel, it would not have evoked such strong response. For eg, if it had said that males of kongu community went to tiruchengode festival for sex, it is still a libel, but would not have invited such sensitive strong protest..

      No community can tolerate their women being targetted or abused.

    • Eswar said, on January 17, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      //1. If the temple was named but the caste of the women wasnt named. Then again the affected population is too large and imprecise.

      If I remember correctly, the author has used many caste names casually throughout the book and never implied women only from a particular caste participated in this. Even for Ponna, the reference is ‘Gounder’ and not ‘Kongu Vellala Gounder’. (I suppose you derived ‘Kongu Vellala Gounder’ based upon the geographical location of the story. Also I don’t know if Kongu Vellala Gounders were the only Gounders living in that area around the time this story is happening — Circa 1940). Because of Murugan’s casual reference to castes throughout the book, it doesn’t appear to me that he was trying to insinuate a certain caste group.

      Nevertheless, because Ponna happens to be a Gounder, it doesn’t imply, as you have mentioned above in the article “it is about the womenfolk of Kongu Vellala Gounders.” If you say, it defames the women attending that festival, then I would agree. But if you say it defames the womenfolks of Kongu Vellala Gounders, then No. I am happy to stand corrected if you can point to me that Murugan implied only women of this particular caste participated in that activity.

      If you happen to agree with my comments, then based on your point 1, isn’t the affected population too large and imprecise?

      • senthil said, on January 18, 2015 at 2:09 am

        he has explicity used caste names, in detail.. the main character is a kongu vellala gounder.. which adds to the offensive aspect.. the affected communities have every right to protest against it..

      • realitycheck said, on January 18, 2015 at 5:58 am

        If he had included ALL women in that area (and he did not), that would still not address the libel issue. The reputation and sanctity of the temple event will still be subjected to this unsavory story. So the Girivala Sangam would still have the right to protest / approach police.

        The story did not involve Kali/Ponna making a secret pact or that she slyly did this on her own. But that it was a normal social practice in THAT CASTE as handed down by the old ladies. It may or may not have involved other castes, but that is not relevant. It may have dissipated the matter if storyline had Ponna participating with other community women.

        But I agree with you this would be an interesting legal argument.

  10. […] have a mechanism of contesting who is right and who is not on certain matters. There is a good post on the Reality Check blog about this on why he does not stand with Perumal Murugan on the issue about his book that is in […]

  11. nparamasivam1951 said, on January 15, 2015 at 7:51 am

    No one will stand with Perumal Murugan on this issue. He shamed people, on hearsay news. He also shamed the people of the region of a particular community. If some one writes doubting the modesty of the womenfolk of his community, will he agree? So there it stops. Forget Left trouble shooters.

  12. Karthi said, on January 15, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Reblogged this on Indian Perspectives and commented:
    Reposting from RealityCheck. A very interesting freedom of expression story that unfolded in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

  13. jagan said, on January 15, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Historical Fiction does not enjoy complete freedom of expression. The Author has the burden of defending the veracity of historical claims with adequately researched facts and data, and is open to challenge (albeit civilly).
    Charlie Hebdo on the other hand is Satire. And satire has no limits and enjoys complete freedom of speech in a civilised and progressive society.
    Sometimes, people equate satire and historical fiction, which always attracts controversy and some controversies are well founded.
    The problem is – the philosophy of tolerance, free speech and liberties is quite complicated and nuanced, people simply don’t do enough reading to understand the issues with any degree of clarity.

  14. senthil said, on January 15, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    this article gives a different picture, where the communists had tried to use this controversary to target BJP govt at centre.

    http://swarajyamag.com/culture/leftist-media-slanders-rss-bjp-to-uphold-freedom-of-libel/?utm_content=buffer6e19b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  15. _chAyA_ (@_chAyA_) said, on January 15, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Here is writer willingly slandering Hindu women. Yet Hindus, who are being told their religion never treats women as equal, stands up for their women & protests such slander. Why should they allow the slander to remain, in the name of Freedom of Expression? Hindu groups should make this into a women’s rights issue, to shut up progressives 🙂

  16. Arthy Sundaram said, on January 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Ridiculous article. Once it is a fiction – it is a fiction. The author slanders woman more than how a society still slanders a woman who can never have a child ? Artificial insemination and serrogating kids for another family is still considered in many parts as a kill on the honor – does that mean it never happens ? This is just a figment of his imagination – if you have problem with it – writer a book – write an article – write a front page news – but you don’t go with hooligans and police man to batter a “truce” – you do not convince an author to withdraw his work – and call it ‘things were okay’ – ah please – i understand your need to defend anything that is for the sake of religion but as a hindu woman I find this abnoxious – thankfully for valki, kamban, kalki, mahakavi – they were born in a more progressive time and they didn’t have to be ashamed of being progressive!

    • Hemant said, on January 15, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Maybe, you are right.

      In which case you should have nothing against me / anyone penning a work of fiction about some Arthy Sundaram (or whatever your real name is), living at the same address as you do, working at the same place as yours. You should also have no problem with me using my creativity to any extent, even if it projects you as an individual that you are not, may be as an individual you would hate to be. I might even get a publisher and the work might become a bestseller, selling at the a shop next to your workplace.

      I hope you can either live with that or with the realization of being a hypocrite.

      • Arthy Sundaram said, on January 16, 2015 at 1:27 am

        I appreciate your response.
        In case perumal murugan had written about Hemant being anything he is not I would not hold this opinion and I would support you filing a defamation case against the author yet not flex muscles at the doors of author who do not have a voice other than his own.
        I being a Hindu woman, I guess have every right and every senses that others have and apparently trying to protect.
        If historical fiction should be disallowed because it hurts what we like then probably there is a family to which dutchadanan, surpanaka, raavanan, et al belonged who would be hurt by our very own Ramayana and Mahabaratha and need to be withdrawn.
        Intentionally malicing a living / dead person is way different from providing an alternative / creative narrative to a past – as long as the person acknowledges it is his imagination. example: kulki, valmiki, upto the contemporaries like devdutt
        There are so many oral and interesting stories in the remote villages hidden in the folklores – which I would love to read and imagine the times that that was totally not like this – non restrictive – example : reason why temples has erotic poses of gods, why people say – go to temple and you’ll get a kid – have heard it pass on from older generation being giggled by newly weds – somehow all this all of a sudden seems to hurt a few.. – who is being hypocritical here ?

        Frankly, what we need now is some humour, tolerance and imagination.

        I strongly am against forcing him to withdraw through “political mafias”.

    • _chAyA_ (@_chAyA_) said, on January 16, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      Please read Aravind Neelakantan’s expose on swarajya. Perumal Murugan wasn’t paid for writing “fiction”.

    • senthil said, on January 18, 2015 at 2:07 am

      The author himself claimed in many interviews that he has written only what happened 50 years ago.. there is no point in you trying to prove it as fiction..

      Even in the case of fiction, he has used real life characters, real life temple festivals, which is clearly abusive..

      I can write a fiction novel about some imaginary women being worst third rate slut.. but if i give the name of that woman as Arthy Sundaram, to be living in your own address, will you just let it go? or if i write a fiction novel projecting mothers and grand mothers of Arthy Sundaram to have begotten their child from such kind of anonmous sex with strangers, will you allow it?

      Well.. if i write that all those women writers supporting perumal murugan are whores, will they keep quiet..

      There is limit to hypocrisy and lies that you people can unleash..

  17. Raag said, on January 15, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Not very convincing Mr Reality Check. Don’t agree with you. Free speech is absolute. There is no defamation in this case. Even so, they could have sued Mr Murugan for libel.

  18. xyz said, on January 16, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Dear RC,
    I went to “Hindu Lit for Life” festival today.There was a discussion in which NRam,Sashi kumar(ACJ),AR Venkatachalapathy(MIDS) and Justice Chandru participated.Some highlights.
    1)NRam denounced the agitation as RSS/Hindutva sponsored.
    2)AR Venkatachalapathy claimed KJK(kongu party) and BJP(Raja) were behind the agitation.
    3)Justice Chandru claimed theres an organisation in Delhi with links to lawyers that specialises in such hitjobs.
    4)While there was condemnation of Hindutva elements there was also condemnation of dravidian and casteist forces.Vaiko antics(on demand for banning malayalam film “DAM”and khusboo harassment came in for criticism too.
    5)Sashikumar said malayalam novels depict nair-nambudri sambandams and its not correct to say ‘gounders’ or others are exempt from portrayal or commentary.
    7)Maalan who was in the audience said this should not been seen as an episode but as a fundamental malaise in tamizh society and he cited the khuusboo case and an instance where a tamil muslim was ostracised for a rather innocuous remark about absence of female prophets.
    8)Justice Chandru also noted the rather cavalier approach of lower courts wherein the ‘process itself’ is a punishment.He cited a case wherein a judge in Mettur issued summons to khusboo saying it was difficult for Mettur residents to go to Madras to see khusboo and it would be easier for khusboo to come to Mettur.
    9)Ofcourse there were the usual suspects denouncing Hindutva fascism,Nazis,Modi and eulogising Periyaar.

    I tried desparately for about 20 minutes to ask a question to the panelists during the open house session.It was not a big crowd,yet I was ignored.

    Finally after the session,went near N.Ram and requested a minute of his time and asked for the ‘factuality’ of the ‘custom’.He was irritated with me and said thats irrelevant(!) and the writer had the ‘right to offend!’ I protested that we are not UK or US to which he replied “we have to fight for that society!”.I give up finally on chindu.

    I asked the same question to Kannan Sundaram,of Kaalachuvadu(publishers of Murugans book) to which he replied “there are no historical documents,but there are oral traditions and such traditions existed in TN and elsewhere” and with a finality he declared -“If a woman wants she will get a child and laughed and two persons with him laughed too” and I was ‘made to look foolish’.

    The whole protest has been hijacked by the leftists and they wanted Murugan and others to take the protest further.They were distressed/dissappointed/even felt dejected/rejected/betrayed because Murugan had backed off.

    Also ARV acknowledged that Murugan had zero support in Namakkal/Tiruchengode.Also ARV said this whole protest had been orchestrated by ‘shadowy’ RSS/casteist groups.

    take my report for whatever its worth.

    • Anandhi said, on January 18, 2015 at 10:56 am

      @ XYZ, Did ‘The Hindu’ report the chinese ban on burkha???

  19. realitycheck said, on January 16, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Dear xyz,

    Thanks for a fantastic report.

    What an incredibly arrogant bunch of delusional folks.

    • senthil said, on January 16, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      and it is these people who claim to be progressive and moral dictators.

      • nparamasivam1951 said, on January 16, 2015 at 3:07 pm

        really xyz exposed the arrogance of people who shout on top of roof regarding press freedom. Especially, HINDU Ram says he has “right offend”. So arrogant. He forgot that his paper is thriving on the support of Ordy people and if they retaliate by stopping The HINDU, he has to run away like The Mail.

  20. Mac said, on January 16, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    In this context,I would like to draw the attention of the readers, the comments of Pope wrt France episode.

  21. Richard Kodamanchili said, on January 17, 2015 at 12:04 am

    A small correction – proponents of free-speech are not against ‘all’ backlash. The speech has no sense and purpose if there is no response from the society. They’re only against violence (includes destruction of property, physical threats, loss of rights without trial etc.,) and that is what they really seek protection from. As long as you’re alive and healthy, you can explain your point of view to the people who are offended with your speech. In your example, the court won’t ask the free-speaker to immediately compensate as soon as Colgate files the lawsuit. There will be due process and if there is no truth in his claim, then Colgate will get compensated for brand defamation. It can even sue The Hindu that helped in mass publishing of lies, if they didn’t print a disclaimer that it is not their opinion. But killing the speaker or destroying the offices of the publisher is not right, no matter how offensive the claim is.

    I don’t know what transpired between Mr. Murugan and the Hindutva groups, but I think it was a silly, passive-aggressive move on his part to give up writing completely. No one benefits out of it. I think he could have driven home the same point with the same story but different names for the temple, village and the festival. Maybe he didn’t think so.

    • senthil said, on January 18, 2015 at 1:59 am

      You are wrong dude.. the proponents of free speech are demanding the right to offend any one and any society.. Violence is done NOT only through physical means, but through psychological..

      When i say Your Mother is a SLUT, it is much more violence done on you, than beating you with sticks.. the psychological hurt is much more severe and serious than the Physical hurt.. TIruvalluvar says “the wound by fire may heal, but NOT from the tongue”..

      We cannot allow the perverted writers to bang on the society to their whims and fancies.. there is something called Responsibility, Respecting the sensitivities of others etc, which every common people understands, but NOT the writers..

      When the entire tiruchengode people had shown their protest against Perumal Murugan, through total bandh, it does not make sense for people to still support him, in the name of free speech..

  22. Sam said, on January 17, 2015 at 2:46 am

    An interesting affair that is typical of the one-sided secularism that exists in India today. A Christian convert writes a fictional account involving his (pre-conversion) Hindu low caste community and a local temple where he insinuates that childless women of this community ritually prostitute themselves at a popular festival in order to conceive. The problem is that the locals have never heard about this manufactured “tradition” and they get quite upset over the book. No Charlie Hebdo-like massacre takes place, no physical violence is inflicted on the writer and his wife, not even a Pope Francis sanctioned punch. But some book copies might have been burned and demonstrations resorted. The locals boycott/shun the writer and his wife – a la the peaceful Quakers or Shakers – and they, in turn, attempt to make amends with their neighbors/community to calm the waters. Unfortunately for them the leftists and China’s national mouthpiece move in claiming the freedom of speech to libel a community and how dare the locals be offended. Stuck in a no-win situation the writer feels increasingly hemmed in and declares that he no longer exists and that he is withdrawing all his books. At this, the leftists get whipped into an even bigger frenzy and the national media led by the China daily, without digging into the story or trying to ascertain all the facts, mindlessly accuse the RSS and national Hindu movements for being mindless instigators of censorship in the Modi era. A local affair gets nationalized and becomes another stick for the secular left to selectively beat up on Hindus in their desperate attempt to reverse their recent political losses.

  23. sundar said, on January 17, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Jesuis Thiruchengode for sure. Prob with such books claiming to be true but based on hearsay is those very books, works are kept in foreign universities, banned in India, and Mcaulay Putras take such fiction as True history and teach our future generations.

    Perumal’s work sponsored by one India Arts … which is inturn affliated to FordFoundation. So, we can safely assume their lopsided view of India reflecting in their sponsorships.

  24. Anandhi said, on January 18, 2015 at 10:21 am

    First let me say, je suis Perumal Murugan.. Till he said, ‘the writer is dead..’ Wow! What stunts!!!
    I agree that there is more to this than we can see. Yes, he is targeted.
    As far as I know, he belongs to the same community he has written about. So, he is an insider who writes what he thinks he knows.. He was well within his rights to write about kali and ponna, their caste, the temple name, they deciding to get ‘impregnated’ during the festival. But the thing is, why he has to mention it is a ‘practice’??? Doesnt that insinuate everyone who prays for a child at a certain temple, getting a child later, as someone who indulged in that ‘practice’?
    Ok, about this leftists and the intellectuals talking about the ‘highly intolerant and bigotic caste’ why do you cry so much for Perumal Murugan? Did you cry for Charlie Hebdo so severely? So, you want them to face ‘pen with pen’?? Do you suggest them to write and talk about your intellectual/ committee meetings?? How about if they write that a certain party’s high committee meeting is just an orgy taking place??? Or that party’s women’s wing is a group of ‘groupies’???? Or, say, write that these intellectual discussions that happen are a blind for some illegal drug trafficking?? Wont you jump up and protest and shove it back their throats??? Or, you will say its ‘freedom to express’??? Bollocks!
    Remember, hands? Freedom? Nose? Yes!
    And, finally the media.. Do you remember Ilavarasan?? Dharmapuri??? You definitely exposed that area and that party as ‘notorious’ bigots.. But its in the urban minds, who already are above this casteism. I remember, last vacation, when I was teaching my daughter to respect elders irrespective of their caste, a middle aged man told me, ‘you will regret this later..’ I said I dont want my daughter to feel ashamed later in her life as I do now, he said eyes shining, ‘you know, they did kill him (Ilavarasan– I strongly condemn it!) to teach a lesson. Everyone knows,and even the police cant do anything!’ We have as many intercaste marriages as arranged ones in our family. We have an aunt married to someone who used to work in their fields – an Ilavarasan. We know of affairs between the dominant and the downtrodden castes. But that was discussed with, at the most, a wrinkled face. Not with the hatred and zealous face I see now. Unconsciously, you, the media, in chasing the story as long as it was fresh and leaving it out entirely later, have done a far worse thing! Ilavarasan was the hero then! Now it is the other side, forever. If you really want to make a difference, talk about the ‘double tumbler’ issue. Talk about how even now, a telephone engineer would some one else to install a modem ‘inside’ a house. Talk about how in the same Tirupur district, inspite of the ‘sumangali’ schemes, garment company workers are living their ‘Tirupur Dream’, and why. Instead, dont fan the fire. Find out and expose who is hounding the writer. Dont tar an entire community for trying to establish their self respect. They are as much the pawns as PM is. Dear media, you have lost the plot entirely.

  25. xyz said, on February 4, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Dear RC,
    I am amazed by your zeal on the education issue.But some thoughts.

    1)If one looks at South Madras,if one has connections you wll get admission.My niece wanted admission to a very good school in Adayar.She paid Rs 2 lakhs extra,other than Rs 1,20,000 official amt as deposit ,apart from a recommendation from a top constitutional authority.He was ready to get admission in another good school(without extra donation) but my sister and b-i-l wanted admission in that particular.
    2)If the applicant is a child of an alumnus of the school,then it stands better chance.
    3)Remember there are so many people recommending and the seats are limited.Add to it the pressure in places like TN where many communities are advanced.
    4)In TN,I find that in some communities/schools they are past the ‘age of zeal’.They are happy to run the show as it is.Big moral/ethical issues are passe.I remember you used to quote a thinker who wrote about shrinking public space/free agent voters.That inertia has set in among certain ‘elite’ people running educational institutions.
    5)Education too is a ‘commodity’ being marketed in the ‘aspirational’ space.World over,good jobs for middle class is shrinking because of changes in technology etc and theres a huge mismatch imho between old school learning in classrooms and the work place requirements.In India,theres enormous callousness among teachers who are just milking perceptions.To be honest,most teachers are lost.In ancient greece,it seems slaves were used for teaching children because they(the slaves) were uncomplaining.I know for sure students in colleges in interior places in TN are beaten for ‘misdemaneours’.Teachers are treated as coolies.
    6)The Namakkal area is notorious for such schools and coleges.There are so many grey areas in matters of public discourse.
    7)For instance in Kongu region,Vellala Gounders have a strong presence in education.The dominant hindu community has no grievances against govt policy there.The telugu naickers have a long history in education in Coimbatore region.Even malayalis are well represented in Coimbatore.
    8)I think tamils,telugus and malayalis have their niches in Bengaluru as far as colleges go.The problem is for the ‘free agent citizen’.A mallu christian will have no problem getting admission in a school in Bengaluru.Kannadiga castes run successful engineering colleges in KA.Also Govt schools cater for the non-middle classes.The minority institutions will have quotas in their schools for influential babus/netas/ and businessmen who pay donations.The Hindu business elite have patronised christian schools in Bombay and Delhi for their exclusiveness and to keep out the ‘lower’ hindu (in their eye).
    9)Throughout India,the state govt employee types have fear of the cosmopolitan ‘outsiders’.The christian institutions exploit the ‘differences’ between the native types and the ‘outsider’ types for their advantage.Our linguistic diversity is exploited by christians who think they have a divine right to run english medium schools.In a way their entitlement is based on the fact that it were the British who introduced modern schooling system.
    10)One would think ‘Brahmana types would be ideal’ for running schools for the entire community.Two problems arise here.One is the charge of elitist standards and second (more important for today) perhaps brahmanas think there are ‘more important things’ to do and that this education system itself has low benefit to cost ratio.
    11) I agree RTE exemption for minority instutions is a crime but the christians are exploiting our insecurities/differences.Unless theres an enlightened Hindu nationalist intervention,our differences will bury this important issue.

    Please critique my random thoughts fwthey are worth.

    • realitycheck said, on February 4, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks for the comment,

      Given the monopoly situation in edu I am not surprised that schools are not only seeking cash but also letters from judges and top police officers. The situation is alarming because it is not just about money, but these schools are seeking to build a high profile student body. Given the weak rule of law what this body as it grows up become power centres. They can then work themselves into other kinds of deals and influence peddling.

      The main thrust of your points seems to be there are enough gaps in the system where a sufficiently motivated parent can get their kids educated. I am not disagreeing with that. WIll address them separately later.

  26. xyz said, on February 4, 2015 at 5:02 am

    The Hindu elite patronise ‘public’ schools/christian schools in Kodaikanal/Ooty/Yercaud/Shimla/Dehradun/Devlali/Rishi Valley apart from schools in Madras,Bombay,Bengaluru Calcutta.

    The middle class is caught between the elite and the poorer classes with very different perceptions of education.The middle/common ground is so little.

  27. xyz said, on February 5, 2015 at 2:54 am

    My point is this.
    I am following your twitter ‘feed’.I am following other strong self identified hindu nationalists.I strongly identify with your concerns.Infact,I was obsessed with these issues.And one day about 9 yrs back,I was grateful(to ?) to have found your blog which addressed these issues with rare clarity and passion.

    Yet,the other hindu nationalist people do not seem to share your/my intensity regarding schools.Only Barbarindians retweets your posts.Many Hindu nationalists do not seem to be bothered about quality education for all.

    Also,I dont think the school which admitted my niece is interested in building any power centre.My niece would have been denied the seat in normal process.Because of the recommendation of a very senior person,they were forced to consider.That school is happy to continue as it is.They cannot ignore people in ‘top’ positions.Their ‘brand’ has nothing to do with ‘elite’ buth rather quality.The sad thing in India is our governments and some of its pseudo elite are obsessed with mirages of elitism than a greater no of quality schools at the base of the system.

    Again,there are shades of grey here.The problem of getting admission is acute in metros where christians have disproportionate presence.In Tier II cities,local Hindu communities are strong is my guess.Even in metros,there are niche schools catering to their ‘target groups’ and the alumni way eases things for some parents.

    The problem is acute if one moves from one city to another,or in my nieces case,my sister/bil had studied in christian schools,also their present location is some distance from where they studied,this creates problems.Also schools like DAV,Bhaktavatsalam Vidyashram,Chettinad Vidyashram,Lady Andal,Venkata Subba Rao,(to cite a few) have their niche target groups(including North Indians,people in MNCs).And again,schools have different ethos(govt schools,ICSE,State Board,CBSE) with varying emphasis on academic rigour etc.Many parents are opting for IB,British GCSE,ICSE for their flexibility.First generation or Second generation learners are fixated on discipline,memory but third generation learners are more concerned with freedom,motivation,exploration,flexibility etc.If we add to the confusion at admission to college level,one realises the difficulty of chosing schools and also the difficulty of school managements to stay relevant.

  28. xyz said, on February 5, 2015 at 3:43 am

    “For some reason our socialists, do gooders, sundry Kool Aid drinkers think that education sector is some sort of special thing, as distinct from say auto industry. So they enact laws and rules that will somehow defy laws of economics. Results are for all to see.

    I am sure you would have seen this.Not endorsing ‘completely’ about ‘laws of economics’ but theres a lot of sense in what barb says.

  29. xyz said, on February 5, 2015 at 3:51 am

    I do think education ‘industry’ is different from ‘auto industry’.But there are commonalaties of “supply and demand”.

    Also I forgot to add KVs and SBOA in my list of ‘special interest’ schools.The need for KVs is obvious.This is the market we are looking at-extremely fractured,add to it the ‘mushrooming’ of ‘public’ schools/international schools.TBH,I cannot deny that the ‘good neighbourhood’ schools of South Madras were ‘intended’ for …,not that I am apolegetic.”Nalathor veenai seithen etc…”

  30. […] Why not Je Suis Tiruchengode asks @realitycheckindia […]

  31. […] Reprinted from Reality Check India […]

  32. Pradeep CK said, on April 7, 2015 at 11:22 am

    The author seems to be a misogynistic prick! There are numerous instances in literature (contemporary as well as historical) where men consort with one and all they please! This author has not been insulted by that! Why is he insulted by a woman exercising choice? Does that scare him?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: