Has the Malayalee stopped thinking?

published on March 24, 2007


Author:Jeemon Jacob | Kerala-based commentator


(When there is genocide in West Bengal, the intellectuals of Kerala act as if they haven’t seen or heard anything. Their dependence on Government support and lure of posts and cash awards have led them to outdo each other in displaying loyalty to the Marxist regime)

Nandigram is a hot topic in Kerala’s political circles. The State Congress has sent a delegation to the
West Bengal village led by Ramesh Chennitala, the tireless anti-Communist state party chief. But, in the end, it was mere political opportunism that might have driven khadi-clad State Congressmen to Nandigram.



However, when Nandigram protests rocked the streets of Kolkata, Kerala was largely silent. Only a few politically active writers and intellectuals opened their mouths against the brutal killing of 14 villagers in Nandigram. Popular leftist historian Sumit Sarkar and his wife Tanika Sarkar has returned the award in protest against the killing.


Pradip Mehta, another historian, and Shankha Ghosh, the famous poet, and the vice-president of the Bangla Sahitya Academy, have resigned from their posts in manifestation of protest. These were all lifelong Left sympathisers and close to the party leadership. They have shown their intellectual honesty in their protests. But Kerala’s leftist intellectuals shied away from the truth.


Only a handful of writers felt that they should open their mouth against police atrocities in Kerala’s fellow “progressive” state. MN Vijayan, KG Shankrapillai, Vishnu Narayanan Nampoothiri, P Narayanakurup, P Parameshwaran. MR Thampan, Vilakudi Rajendran, Prof Vattaparambil Gopinathapilla, Prof CG Rajagopal, CR Neelakandan and novelist Sara Joseph were among the few who condemned the West Bengal Left government for the brutal killings.


The others never raised their voice. It was as if it had happened in Uganda. Their silence tells the story of their opportunistic nature and their general insensitivity to human suffering. And, mind you, some of these are the literary giants of Kerala.


Sukumar Azheekode, Sachidanandan and M Mukundan were among those in the forefront of a veritable crusade that was launched against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2002. But these literary giants never uttered a word on Nandigram. Mukundan is now enjoying his retirement as the president of the Kerala Sahitya Academy and Sachidanandan is in faraway Delhi dominating the intellectual circles in the national capital. As for Sukumar Azheekode, he seems to have reserved his fireworks for another day.


Many avoided their reaction when media encountered them. Some played the role of innocent babies who have no access to information or happenings in Bengal‘s remote village. Veteran poet ONV Kurup expressed his inability to react to the event as he was undergoing treatment. Others offered no explanations. Quite a few put up a brave face to defend their ideological leniency towards Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. A few of the smart ones expressed phoney sympathy for the dead and maintained tactical silence on the question of the perpetrators of the murder. And, of course, there were those who wore a “no comments” mask.


However, there is little doubt that if a Congress or BJP government had engineered the killings, heavens would have fallen. The media offices would have been flooded with the responses. This raises questions about their intellectual honesty.


Many perceived the silence of Malayalee artists, historians and literary giants towards the Nandigram massacre as very strange. The same guys were very vocal when one tribal was killed in Muthanga in Wayanad district of Kerala in police firing on February 19, 2003. One police constable was also killed in the incident. It is surprising that they are acting like cultural commissars of a typical communist party now.


Explains Rajeshwari, a political commentator: “It’s most convenient for them. They have many things to gain – memberships on committees, chairs in government bodies and cash awards worth a few thousand. The CPI(M) is going to rule Kerala for the next four years and they know they’d be better off competing with each other in proving their loyalty and utility to the party. Their silence on Nandigram will be rewarded in future.”


According to him, the LDF government has gifted many with ornamental posts on various cultural committees. “The CPI(M) knows how to make all these intellectuals obedient. A mere phone call from Ministers boost their ego. They want to be in the good books of the party bosses. Who has time to condemn Nandigram? The dead will not compensate them with honours for their remarks, but the CPI(M) leadership can promote them to the sky. Globalisation has taught them about the innumerable opportunities waiting for them and silence was best available option they can pursue”, he added.


Kerala’s intellectuals have lowered themselves to the level of the cultural commissars who killed thousands of people during the Chinese ‘Cultural Revolution’ for petty gains. But, what perhaps lessens the guilt of the cultural commissars of the olden times is the realisation that they faced threats to their lives if they failed to express their support to the genocidal regime. But our modern commissars have no such pressure as they are all taking advantage of the democratic set up. It is their greed that has compelled them to be silent. Everybody loves an extra loaf of bread if it’s free.


Welcome to Haindava Keralam! Register for Free or Login as a privileged HK member to enjoy auto-approval of your comments and to receive periodic updates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

five + 1 =


Latest Articles from Kerala Focus

Did You Know?